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I spent about five days trying to get myself out of the latest writing jam. Reviewing where my characters had gone and would go, writing notes and outlines, chatting with said characters at all hours, re-reading relevant parts of my last novel. And finally there was only one place to go. So I wrote the section and am picking up speed again. Let’s hope the road blocks get fewer and farther between.

Have you heard that phrase, “Make your job your dream and you’ll never work a day in your life”? Personally, I think that is a statement full of lies, with more potential to discourage discerning hopefuls than to encourage them. See, marriage is a dream but one I know will be full of hard, hard work and occasional hurt. Friendships are worthwhile, but I’ll cry over every one that matters. Kids–oh my, they do make life fulfilling, but they take a crazy amount of work. Why should a dream job be any different?

There are days and weeks when doing my job feels like the sweet dream it was meant to be. But there are many more days. Days of plot line hurdles and writers block and negative reviews. Days of staying up late to meet a deadline and saying no to going out with friends to meet yet another deadline. Days to rewrite blocks of work and sore backs from leaning over a laptop. Days of doing law homework in-between speaking engagements and friends never knowing where in the world you are. Days of scraping together fifty cents for a hot apple cider and of wondering where the money will come. Days of cold calls. Days of facing fears. Days of failure.

See, little does the statement about the dream job know: success would not feel like success without those days. Without the days when I applied for other jobs because the dream just wasn’t panning out. Days when I nearly quit. Days when I chose to stick to the dream because it was worth the hurt.

Next time you think about your dream job and consider all the work that will go into it, remember: it is that hard work which makes the dream sweet. It’s not a dream, it’s not a life, if it’s not worth fighting for.

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For four days I have left you. Four days for a more noble cause than usual. I have been writing. Back to the drawing board with my novel, a fresh Word document before me. I keep from the first, failed, half-finished draft only that which makes the story soar. My novel and my soul are better for it. For four days I have written, indulged in the Psalms as a refuge from the swirling words of the Lure of Lemons, been rigorous about taking all medicines (new and old, prescription and supplemental), and tackled my wild life into submission.

Patient friends who sought me out through mid-November to mid-January are finally getting a little more of the attention they deserve. Precious family members are finally the confidants they ought to have always been. Life, slowly, is beginning to make sense. As if I am coming out of the fog of illness that was my life.

But my room already begins to show signs of sickness again. An unkempt desk, a chair that houses lost objects, and a dryer sheet too far down on the floor to bear picking up. This time, it’s not the bitter surges of Babesiosis that strikes me. Just a common cold. The kind that makes you drink too much tea and turns your nose raw. It’s quite the relief to feel normal sick. My head might seem a little fuzzy, but its the physical kind of fuzzy that is not nearly so alarming.

Sister Kate and I pulled into the mall parking lot today and just sat for a long time. She shared Jeremiah 29:11, a verse we all have heard too much (if that’s even possible when it comes to Scripture). But instead of focusing on the ‘prosper’ part, she highlighted, “For I know the plans I have for you…” (ESV). God knows the plan. It’s in His mighty, wondrous, talented hands. So sick with Babesious or sick with the common cold or starkly healthy, I’m in the book that He is writing.

And it is far better than any story I could ever craft.

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It’s 10:00 in the morning. I’m flipping through the chapters I have already written, trying not to grimace at their epic badness as I make the plot line shifts necessary for forward movement. Honestly, the condition of this novel is grave. Thankfully, I have eight years of training in salvaging lost causes, so I press on.

I’ve got the playlist entitled ‘Thinking Music’ on in the background. It is a desperate attempt to reach the contemplative, artistic state that used to be so easily attained. Man. The relapse of Babesiousis that crept up on me in December really forced me out of good habits. Time to get back into my craft.

So with a rugged determination, I’m back to the novel. I will ignore the urge to edit, refuse to despair at the faultiness of my words, and finish this difficult catch-up so that I may free-write once more. Yes. Back to work I go.

For small or big tasks, for high or low moments, Philippians 3:12 (NIV, 1984) keeps summing me up:

“Not that I have already obtained all this or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” 

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It took me three days to get back to Starbucks. Three days to find a place in my heart where I could blog anything useful. I don’t want to blog what is unhelpful. I hope never to let these pages be touched by a complaining or grouchy spirit. So I waited.

Lately, it has been nearly impossible to find enough musical strength to song-write. To have temporarily lost that ability has felt like a creative appendage was unusable, in a cast. I waited for some alternative, external way to express and process the internal. And what would you know? It came out in writing! Hah. Imagine that. A writer writing…

It might not be a shock to you, but it was to me. Lately, I have felt out of touch with my craft. As if it and I were unhappy partners merely obligated to each other. But today (as my momager predicated would happen eventually) we fell back into sync.

No. The new novel has not progressed by any great strides. But as I wrote at my favorite table in Starbucks, I finally began to understand that which I had been so blind to in myself. Steady click of my fingers on the keyboard after steady click, I worked my way through the deeper parts of me. With a mocha at my side, I examined those parts–those parts that tend to get cobwebs in my hesitancy to look at them.

Many writers will never discover their gift. Others will run from it in fear of expression or the publishing industry or being read. I have been saved from that fate.

Today I am grateful to God for making me a writer who actually writes.

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“I don’t know what people are looking for,” I lamented to my mother in between my sips of coffee and the whir of her blow dryer.

Last night carried us to a movie, where–going beyond my comfort zone entirely–I asked a random teenager to help me. She seemed to have an appreciation for fantasy reading so I gave her my business card in the hopes that she will beta-test Mark of Orion. Now, this morning, my debate still rages inside me. My writing style is a bit strange, so what is it that keeps readers flipping through chapter after chapter?

The blow dryer stops for only a second as my mom answers, “I think people are looking for you.”

The comment is left hanging as the blow dryer turns back on, giving me the same ‘dun, dun, dun’ feeling I hope to end each chapter with. People are looking for me? I guess its true. Writing isn’t mathematics. It’s about heart. In my first book I could not share my heart–just my imagination. But for the second novel I risked it. Feedback tripled in all positive ways as readers felt like they really got to know me through my writing.

So, my fellow writers, don’t be afraid to write who you are and how you like to read. Your readers won’t love you because you hit some stereotype genre to mathematical perfection. They will love you for you–or not at all. And that’s okay too.

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I felt a bit like a conductor, Saturday. I told a million different parts of the orchestra (novel) when to rise and when to fall. I discovered timeline issues, completely reorganized three chapters, and brought to light all the best parts of the story. It was back-breaking work. Its surprisingly hard to change anything at this point in the game. Yet, with printing deadlines bearing down upon me, I can’t afford to be merciful to the novel. Everything that does not fit has to go.

That was how I felt about my life during the last year of college too. Everything that did not have its place, I simply could not fit it in. It is a headache-filled luxury to be able to invest in people and opportunities I never had time for before–finding what actually fits in my life before the chaos of a book release envelopes me once more.

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Josh Garrels, Mocha Frappuccino, and Mark of Orion pulled up on my computer… I did not even realize how into my story I had fallen. Until the man beside me asked me a question and I jumped out of my skin. It was like the jerking reaction you have when you wake up from a dream in less than a second. That transfer of reality that never goes quite smoothly.

I guess I really was into my novel. I had forgotten that I was in my body in Starbucks. Creepy? I think so.

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