Writing and/or Life, Both Hard


Either I’m not doing it right and still need to learn the universe’s secrets, or else the truth is that writing is masochism.

No, stop. I shouldn’t say that. Believe me, I love to write. Sometimes.

But it is really, really hard.

Why does it so often seem like other writers have their acts together?  They feel confident in their abilities.  They are clever and funny and smart … gahhh, I know I can be those things too.  But mostly I just feel insufficient and terrified that I’ll be found out.

Not just writing either.  Life.  I’m 32, and I feel like I know so little about how to be successful at Life.  I retreat in fear to my favorite things night after night: my bed, my prayer journal, my Jesus.

A few lines from Truest (as it stands today):

And while I sit in the stand and pray, I have the same sensation—that I am being outlined, defined, and that the definition doesn’t come from me.

I am trying to hold so many things—and failing—but this one thing is holding me.

Please tell me, people: do any of you get so overwhelmed that you become paralyzed? Have you fallen in love with a vocation that gnaws on your heart? Have you figured out any ways to be still and yet productive?

All I know is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus– thankfully, he’s more than enough.



Filed under anxiety, Jesus, real life, writing

Easter is over – now what?

Jackie Lea Sommers:

My friend Rachel’s important thoughts on what we do after Easter. Loved this.

Originally posted on fellow passengers:

IMG_5142 I always imagine the day after all of Jesus’ friends discovered that he was alive to be a little, well, weird.

I mean really, what do you do with that?

One of your best friends, a person you’ve admired and followed and tried really hard to be like, dies a horrible death. You’re shocked. Numb. Scared something similar might happen to you, given the political climate.

And then, a few days later, he’s standing in front of you.

Your mouth goes dry, agape. You hug, but you still don’t know how to believe the truth of what you’re holding. And then you’re sitting down on a mountainside, having supper and saying things like, hey Jesus, will you pass the cheese?


Lent is over. Easter is finished. I’ve been reminded. I’ve remembered. I’ve worked really hard at giving up my anger to be more like Jesus. And meanwhile, my…

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YA Junkie [& proud of it]

A few odds and ends from the Land of YA Lit …

I joined Oblong Insider because I EVEN WANT BOOKS I DON’T KNOW THAT I WANT.  Yes, it’s true.  I signed up for a YA book subscription where someone else chooses books for me because WHY NOT.  I filled out a form that asked for my favorite books and authors so they could get a feel for what I liked, and then– voila!– the other day, I got my first package!

Look at this stuff!  I got Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens (a book for which I’ve read great reviews!), an awesome “I read YA” book bag, and a matching button.  Too cute!

ya swag

Yes, of course I love buying and choosing books on my own, but this is so fun and exciting, like unwrapping a birthday present!

Also, someone muttered some fightin’ words online:

fighting back

Seriously??!  What is wrong with people?

Also, thought Teen Librarian’s Toolbox posted an interesting article about how we guide teens into a safe discussion about sex in literature.  You can read it here.

Also, my friend Mary has got me thinking and dreaming about what the cover of Truest will look like.  (Note: I will likely have no say in this.)  But an author can dream, right?

Also, Maggie Stiefvater is going to be at the SCBWI summer conference.  I thought about going, but in the end, I think I’ve decided to stay put.

Also, Buzzfeed’s 19 True Struggles of Being Addicted to YA Books as an Adult.

Also, also, also … !

I love YA lit.

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OCD, Medication, and Genetic Testing

Jackie Lea Sommers:

Super interesting! In my case, “trial and error” took five years and a near-death allergic reaction …

Originally posted on ocdtalk:

mrpuen freedigitalphotos.net

mrpuen freedigitalphotos.net

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, it’s no secret that my son Dan had negative experiences with medication used to treat his OCD. He was overmedicated, wrongly medicated, and improperly weaned from various combinations of ten different medications over a fifteen-month period. Medication didn’t help him; it hurt him. For him, the best meds turned out to be no meds at all.

There are, however, a good number of OCD sufferers who are helped by medication (usually in combination with Exposure and Response Prevention therapy). But even for those who benefit from taking medication it is often a long, frustrating journey to find the right medication, or combination of medications, that work. We’ve all heard it before: trial and error is the only way to find that often elusive “right combination.”

But is trial and error really the only way?


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Writerly Thoughts on Predestination, Conflict, & Rescue


It’s an old debate: do humans have free will, or are “choices” predestined by God?

I have a friend who thinks the former while I lean more toward the latter (honestly, I most prefer to live in the gray area between the two), and we were talking briefly about this.  The Big Question, of course, is If there’s no free will, then why would God predestine the sinful fall of man?

My response was that I think that rescue and redemption are more valuable to God than there being no need for them, that somehow God gets more glory from saving a fallen world than from not needing to save a perfect one.

My friend didn’t buy it, didn’t think it made sense.


My writing critique group met recently, and it was a great evening.  We didn’t actually critique anything, only shared about our current projects (and a couple people shed some tears, it’s true).  One of my friends is writing a young adult novel for her MFA program, and the problem she keeps running into is that she loves her characters so much that she doesn’t want to hurt them.

“It’s what I always used to yell at you for, Jackie!” she said to me.  “And now I’m doing it myself!”

If you’re not a writer, you probably can’t understand, but trust me– it can be hard to create characters you adore and then force them through hell.

But we have to.


If there’s no conflict, it’s not a good story.


I started to think about that in terms of the story of the world.  God is the ultimate creator, the supreme artist, and the universe and its inhabitants are his masterpiece.

Is the same principle at work here?  Did God as an Artist determine that the great Story of the world would not be good without conflict?  Every good writer knows that a story needs a conflict and a climax.  Could that be the very simplest of explanations for the fall of man and the cross of Christ?  God was writing a story, and he wanted it to be great.

You’re welcome to chime in in the comments!


Image credit: fotomachine


Filed under Bible, Christianity, Jesus, real life, writing

Resurrection Joy

I love Easter.  This is– hands down– my favorite holiday.  This weekend, I have taken some time to reflect on the cross of Christ, the darkness of the Saturday in between, and the power and rejoicing of the resurrection Sunday.

As someone who often finds it hard to ground myself in the present time– one who is always anxiously anticipating that which lies ahead for me– I stand in awe of my savior, who knew for all eternity that the cross would be the climax of his story.  How could he bear it?  Death must have been such a relief.

Perhaps it was that he not only knew what was ahead in the cross– but even further ahead, in the resurrection.  I am unspeakably proud of my rescuer.

Blessings on your Easter, friends.  May you find deep joy in this mighty rescue, peace in knowing that God understands our deepest sufferings, and power in the realization that the spirit that raised Christ from the dead is the same spirit that desires to live and work in us.

I am so proud to say that I belong to Jesus.

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5 Things I Wish I Was in Addition to Being a Writer

1) A visual artist.


2) Fashionable.


3) In a relationship.


4) Friends with the Vlogbrothers.

vlogbrothers[please see #1]

5) Makeout buddies with Theo James.



Your turn.


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