Things Learned from a Month of Perceived Insanity

So here it is twenty-three days in to National Novel Writing Month and The End is in sight. Literally.

IMG_3896

The idea of writing a novel in a month is a little crazy town but so worth it. Not only will I have accomplished a goal and have the skeletons of a novel by the end of November but I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. Which for me, is a win all the way around.

So what have I won? Well hopefully I will win Nanowrimo with a 50K word count by the end of the month. Here are some other things I’ve won( or learned over the course of this month):

  1. I am much more capable of “doing” than I give myself credit for. I quit things so  easily. Maybe quit isn’t the right word?  I get done the required amount and quit after that. Maybe you find yourself doing this too? We do just what is asked for, no more. Rarely do we push ourselves beyond our own feelings, or fears to something  bigger, more.
  2. Having a deadline looming is a good thing. Having a deadline looming with a cast of characters watching and cheering you on, motivates you even more. I did not want to come back with anything less than 50 000 words.  They preach it at Nanowrimo.  Telling people makes you accountable!
  3. I waste a ton of time. I don’t need to say anything else. Ugh.
  4. Reading is actually research. Hooray! I’m closing in on 130 books read this year and honestly felt a little guilty. But here’s the thing; I would not have been able to write so quickly if I hadn’t read so much. Reading lots of different genres makes you a better writer. It’s advice seasoned writers always hand out to up-and-comers.
  5. The excuses of why I wasn’t writing do not hold up any longer. I told myself I couldn’t write at night because I was too tired. I told myself I could not get up early to write because I’m tired. I told myself I didn’t have stories to tell that came from my imagination. (Even though I have been telling myself stories since I was a little kid when I couldn’t sleep at night. What did I do during those long dark hours? I made up stories in my head with characters from tv shows. Early fan fiction when it wasn’t even a thing. I think a lot of writers have this experience.) But this month, I wrote at night. I wrote in the morning and I wrote in the afternoon. Did I have time frames that I was more productive? Yes. I am a morning person. The words flowed easier in the am. BUT I still got my word count at other times. Huh. I’ve almost written 50 thousand words. I had a story to tell. Maybe more.

Some Practical Do’s & Don’t’s of NaNoWriMo that I learned:

a. Stay in your chair or on the couch or bed until you have your day’s word count. Wrimos (People doing Nanowrimo) tell you this and it’s true. Do not get up to do dishes (Well, really, why would you do that?) or any other chore that suddenly occurs to you. Stay still until you reach your goal. It’s amazing what your brain will do if you give it a chance and still your body.
b. Don’t get caught up in a good book during this month of novelling. Why? Because if you’re like me, you will get caught up in someone else’s characters and not care as much as you should about your own while you are reading said book. I read mostly what I call fluff stuff and books that had no intense plot lines or were totally different than the book I’m writing. Because you know, I couldn’t stop my research! 🙂
c. Do have a separate folder entitled NOVEL NOTES opened when writing. The wise people at Nanowrimo suggest this and it is pure genius. You will be adding things or coming up with new ideas as you write and you want to be able to put them somewhere easily accessible. For example when the protagonist’s parent’s job changes from a mechanic to an engineer by the end of the book and as an author you don’t catch this nor do any other early readers.  So after publication, your reader is left going, “Wasn’t he a mechanic in the beginning?”  And then has to search through the book to find it.  Hence Novel Notes. It saves everyone from going crazy or thinking they are!
d. If you have a family to feed while trying to writing an outlandish amount of words in a month, do invest in a lot of easy prep food. It will save your butt more times than not. You will be a superhero because chicken wings and fries are awesome! Instead of being the person who at five o’clock in the afternoon, is searching feverishly through the freezer, looking for somehting, anything to eat that will be ready NOW. FYI no one fainted from hunger here during the month of November. Next year they learn to cook for themselves!
e. Do have some writing buddies who are writing along with you. It is inspiring and fun. It takes the solitude away and they can talk you off a ledge better and faster than anyone else.
f. Finally Do have a pet rabbit or any other kind of pet who will keep you company as you type feverishly. Who will listen to plot ideas or character assassinations. Who will let you pet them to relieve stress. Or provide you with a good laugh as they give you fodder for material for your book.

So will my first nanowrimo be my last? Definitely not. This month has been everything I hoped it would be and worth the insanity.  It was also a lot of fun.  In some ways I am sorry to be done.  But I’m not really done, there’s revisions in the months of January and February.  You know, adding flesh to that skeleton I’ve created this past month…

 

The Inadequate Lie

Inadequate. The word keeps rolling around my brain. I ask myself, “Does anyone ever get to the point where you ever feel adequate?”

I’m not sure to tell you the truth. We feel inadequate in so many areas of life at different times. We feel inadequate as parents when our children struggle or have issues. We feel inadequate when we don’t get the promotion at work. We feel inadequate even when we have no control over the situation.

15220118_10153854602076626_6728932325892703896_n

I was diagnosed with diabetes this past year. The doctor just looked at me, puzzled. I should not have diabetes. I have no precursors except one. It’s in the genes so to speak. I felt inadequate sitting there in her office, because for no apparent reason, my body was letting me down.

The Inadequate Lie. That’s what I’m calling it.  Because it’s a lie that you are inadequate. That I am. 
I have been dancing around this word, trying to write this out for probably a month now. Because not only have I felt inadequate with my health but that word has been shouting at me for the better part of the last five months. Probably longer but it became all CAPS IN THE LAST FIVE MONTHS.

Ironically, just as my book has been published, I have struggled with feeling inadequate as a pastor’s wife, as a writer, as a Christian. This does not make me ungrateful. I am so thankful for the opportunity that God has provided to get His message out there. It is so badly needed. I believe in the message. But I have to wonder about the messenger. Which makes me feel like a bigger fraud because this is the precise message of the book; being called to a role or a place and you feel like the biggest, ugliest square peg in a very delicate round hole.

It can be anything or any role, not just a pastor’s wife. Maybe you feel inadequate as a parent, as daughter or son, as a caretaker, or whatever job you may be working in right now. Maybe you feel like you’ve been called to a city or town that feels so alien you’d think you were on a different planet. We all feel it sometimes. Like there is no way we will ever measure up.

The Inadequate Lie manifests itself in times of both success and failure. It doesn’t matter how many accolades, songs of praise we’ve heard, we still feel less than. Or we know failure is knocking because we’ve done it so many times before. The Inadequate Lie has power because we continue to be sucked into these cycles of lies. We fall for the whispers every time and as long as we believe them, we will feel inadequate regardless. The lie will win even if reality says otherwise.

I read a memoir, Atlas Girl by Emily Wierenga. We had a lot of the same dreams for our lives. Yet she said when her name was on a book, it wasn’t enough. I’ve never forgotten that line. She still felt inadequate. What’s the dream that you had that in the end, wasn’t enough?

IMG_0621

It is at this point that God stands waiting. He’s waiting for us to turn to Him. We’ve reached the pinnacle of what we define as success. Or we’ve sunk so low, there’s no place else to go. We have come to the ends of ourselves. We know it. So does He. And He waits for us.

If we want to get beyond the narcissism or the pride or whatever it is, there’s only one place to turn. He created us in His image. He is the embodiment of truth. If we turn to Him in all our feelings of inadequacy he can take those things and refine them until they are bright and shiny, turning lies to truth.

What is the truth? The truth is He is I AM. And always will be forever and ever. I AM is greater than all our successes, our failures, our measuring sticks. Even though He is bigger than anything out there, He grabs our hand and pulls us into the adventure, allowing us a glimpse of Him. It isn’t about our inadequacies. It isn’t about publishing books. It isn’t about being the perfect parent or child. It isn’t about the latest promotion. It’s only about Him. Those things are of this world, although we may be called to them, they will never be enough. Only He is enough. Like a blanket, I AM covers everything else.

And the good news? The Inadequate Lie loses. We are not inadequate. I AM gives us the power to do what He’s called us to do. We are ENABLED by His Spirit to move mountains, write books, sing songs, parent children and prodigals, and become who we were created to be. It is the Enabled Truth.

When Your Dream is an Impossibility

Have you ever got to a point where you realized that what you were hoping for, working towards, dreaming about, was a complete impossibility?  That there was absolutely no way you could ever make it happen?

I’ve been chasing a dream for as long as I can remember.  In fact, for a while, I chased two dreams.  One was far fetched, the second one was out of this world.  I gave up the out of this world for just far fetched.  Do you know why?  Dreams are fragile things.  One word against them can bury them.  My teacher didn’t believe in me and so neither did I.  My confidence was zero to begin with and I’m not sure she understood what I was really asking.  Do I have what it takes?  Her reply made me think no.  Twenty years later, I’m not so sure it was a no.  My insecurity, youth and fear interpreted it as no but now I wonder if she was telling me I’d have to work hard.  Was I willing?  Hindsight is twenty-twenty as they say.  

I’ve learned though that dreams are fragile and need to be treated with the utmost gentleness and respect.  I sunk that out of this world dream.  And instead went after the other.  

I find it interesting that the world tells us to go after our dreams.  That everything is within reach.  But when you do pursue a dream, one that is even a little far fetched, the world looks at you like you are some sort of alien.  And treat you accordingly.  If you don’t have a live-savings filled to the brim, a whole network of people launched and all the i’s dotted, you are an idiot for going after something so elusive.  Something that could end with your face all covered in mud.

On the other end of the spectrum, anyone who has ever achieved a dream didn’t do it alone.  Family and friends have embraced your wild dreams and joined in for the ride.  Or at least give you an encouraging thumbs up.  They’ve seen the dream and have treated it with gentleness and respect.  I am so thankful to have those family members and friends.  They don’t think I’m an idiot.  Even when I do.  They have more faith in me than I will ever have in myself.  They are blessings.  They keep me pointed in the right direction.

Because if I had my way, I’d be running the other way.  Right into a brick wall.  I’ve tried to scale it.  I’ve tried to jump over it.  It’s painful how many times I’ve tried and failed to master that wall.  

I finally gave up and turned back to the dream because God gave me no other choice.  That wall hemmed me in on three sides.  The answer was always no.  It frustrated me beyond belief.  I argued with God.  I told Him he couldn’t tell me no to everything!  He told me it wasn’t, it was wait.  Work.  So I have.

Working on a dream brings peace, fulfillment and excitement.  And dread.  It’s an impossible dream.  I am like an ant among elephants.  A nobody.  The enormity of the impossibility hit me smack in the face today.  The only way this is going to happen is if God moves.  

I’ve been studying about how God specializes in impossibilities.  Take a look at the apostles.  Fishermen who became the pillars of the New Testament church.  Who took the gospel and spread it out to the world.  Fishermen were not scholars,  They were fairly low on society’s ladder.

David, a young shepherd, the youngest of a quiver of handsome, strong sons.  God chose him over them all to become the king of his people.  It would be through David’s descendants that the Messiah would come.

Mary, a young virgin girl, chosen to be the mother of God’s only Son.  Her cousin, Elizabeth, well past child-bearing age, giving birth to a son chosen to prepare the way for Jesus.  These are just a handful.

The bible is full of impossibilities made possible by God.  Aren’t we living examples of just that?  Jesus replied, “What is impossible for man is possible for God.” Luke 18:27 NIV

What impossible dream are you chasing today?