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Posts Tagged ‘writing students’

Sometimes, you just need a change of perspective…

The Eiffel Tower has long been known as grand and romantic, a symbol of France. Back in college, I was astounded to learn that, having been commissioned for the 1889 World’s Fair, the tower had never been intended to remain. As seeing this legendary icon had become the top of my bucket list, I feared it could only disappoint. And then there it was. Big and majestic and beautiful and certainly no more than a twenty-minute walk from our current location. Little did we realize just how big the tower truly was. What looked so close was actually a good hour’s walk away.

By the time we reached it, my feet were literally bleeding. One popped blister, two average-joe blisters, and one blood blister completely obliterated my ability to stand up long enough to take the iconic, long-distance photo of my dearly sought-after tower. So instead, as we half-teetered in line for the elevator, I snapped a photo upwards–catching the iron latticework in all of its true glory. And I realized that this was the photo I wanted. Not the photo the rest of the world would care about, perhaps, but the photo that would remind me of the hard, detailed, inspired work and the massive scale of my beloved tower. Then, together with my sister, I piled into two over-crowded elevators to get to the top of one of the world’s greatest structures. The view was breathtaking–whatever the guidebooks say.

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Before leaving for France people said all kinds of things. That the locals were rude, the sights overcrowded, the streets dirty, and the gelato good. I could have expected that France. Instead, I found my own France. Sidewalks with street-musicians. A collection of food trucks where we were the only foreigners. Locals down by the water playing hopscotch and strumming guitars. Streets far cleaner than New York City. Gorgeous architecture. Friendly people. A collection of shops and Starbucks and affordable eateries in my favorite neighborhood. And, yes, the gelato was good, but it was nothing compared to the fresh strawberries we bought on the Rue Cler. Paris became my own.

I could have felt disappointment in missing my long-distance shot of Gustave Eiffel’s greatest feat. I could have felt disappointment in getting only one scoop of gelato. I could have fought for the Paris I had heard about. Instead, I found the Paris that mattered to me.

The understandable tendency, when we miss out, is to feel disappointment, but the last few weeks have given me a different perspective. Of course, there is the part of me that wants to fight for the me that could have been without Lyme’s Disease: a fiddler, a missionary, a gymnast, a businesswoman… Instead, I have decided to revel in the me that is. Just as I chose to celebrate the close-up shot of the Eiffel Tower, I choose to celebrate the path I walk. It may not be the iconic life of our favorite characters on television, but it’s mine and it’s profoundly beautiful. Now, having set aside any kind of modern standard, I am thankful for the strange, yet powerful role I play in this world. As I continue to learn about myself, I have a new appreciation for the way God directed me. The passion developing for writing students, the creativity seeping out in play-dates with my nephews and in my novels, the true friendships now returning from across the globe… It’s all because my life didn’t go the way I wanted it to. Praise God for that.

Sometimes you just need a change of perspective.

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It has been a ‘my-brain-is-on-overdrive’ kind of week. Not one, but four books on three worlds in five different novel sections simultaneously vie for the attention of my mind even as my return to business school has publishing racing through my neurons. If one of my students asked me what to do in a situation like this I would tell them, politely, that it was time to grow up and let all but the most important, most pressing story rest on a dusty shelf. If I have told you something like this, I have new sympathy. But the advice stays the same.

I am determined to capture just enough of each tale to write a few pages of the story and an army of bullet points as to where it is going. Then I am going to let those stories fade away as I return my focus to The Orion Records (both Mark of Orion and its sequel). I am hoping that this method will keep the creativity flowing, while slowly turning it in a more useful direction and preserving the beauty of the untold tales. In the past I have tried to cut out the irrelevant stories from my imagination entirely. This left me with a severe (and, as my deadline approached, rather terrifying) form of writer’s block. To this day, I have been unable to recapture that lost novel.

So this is my new strategy and my repeated advice: when you have more than one story vying for your attention hash out the important details and then force your brain to move on. It is a hard learned skill to know how to hold onto the right novels and let go of those whose turn has not yet come.

(Side note: it can be a very good thing to be plotting novel C while you are drafting novel B while you are editing novel A, but you had best be very careful when you introduce novel B and novel C so you do not overcrowd your brain and explode.)

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