Life Indeed

Honestly, I’ve been heartbroken since the election, and when I try to blog, anything I say feels a little trivial in comparison to what this country is facing. But I trust in a God who personifies love and grace, truth and justice. That is not lip service. That is not a platitude. I really do trust him, or at least I am trying.

And so, while I will continue to fight for the underdog, today I’m not going to write about the election. I need to hammer out a few posts while letting the outcry for justice stir in my heart before I figure out how to put it onto my blog. I’m not sure if that makes sense to anyone but me. Just know that it is never far from my thoughts, even if I do not write about it for a little while.

Instead, an update on my life (for you sweet readers who care enough to wonder!):

Salt Novel

I turned in my draft about two weeks ago. It feels so good to have it out of my hands for a little while. I know it’s not there yet, but it is improving the way drafts do: slowly, and then all at once.

(Okay, couldn’t resist the TFIOS jab there.)

Of course, it’s not like I can just “turn it off” after spending 10.5 months in that world. I am still thinking of my characters, and I’m especially working on brainstorming titles. Titles are HARD, y’all. Makes me feel for the poets and songwriters who have to title each piece and not just the collection.

What are some of your all-time favorite book, poem, or song titles?


Right now, I’m about halfway through Illusion by Martina Boone. It’s the third book of the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy. I’ve also started or am starting a few books of poetry: Yes Thorn by Amy Munson, who teaches at my university; Ultra-Cabin by Kimberly Lambright, a friend from undergrad; and The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins, always a delight. I’ve purchased a small truckload of YA novels, but I still need to get myself back into reading mode after being in full-on writing mode.

How about you? What’s the best book you’ve read lately?


I’m never ready for it. Snowed in Minnesota this weekend, and it’s snowing now. My book event for tonight (up north) was cancelled (my choice), and I’m fighting those winter blues, where all I want is to be in bed.

Do you like winter? Tell me why. I need to hear positive thoughts about it.


On this day in 2013, I had my first conversation with my editor at Harper and first announced my book deal on my social media. And then promptly had my first panic/anxiety attack that wasn’t OCD-related. So I think back on this day with mixed feelings. But OH how I have grown in the last three years. So much growth, so much healing. It’s maybe ironic that this morning I reached out to my therapist, not even because I’m in a bad place. I just felt prompted to contact her last night while I was praying. We’re gonna meet up next month and chat. I’m delighted.

Hope you are all well! I’m hoping to post a lot more frequently in the coming weeks. I miss hearing from you. Drop me a comment please. It helps to know you’re still there.

pans in the fire

Today is my spiritual birthday!  I gave my life over to Jesus Christ on this day seventeen years ago.  Best decision of my life.

I have a lot going on in my life right now– things I’m really excited about– but it’s a little stressful at times.  Here’s the download:

1. The Big Sur Writing Workshop is held each March and December, and it focuses entirely on children’s and young adult literature.  I have been wanting to go to one of these for a long time now, and I finally took the plunge.  Signed up, bought my airline ticket, got really excited to go when the following happened.

2.  Remember when I told you I purchased a mentorship with a Minneapolis editor?  He has been awesome.  He appreciates my vision for the novel and enjoys my characters.  He also asked me to make some pretty intense changes, which amount to a total re-structuring of my novel.  I have been working so hard at the revision because I really want the draft to be polished before Big Sur.  That gave me six weeks for the revision.  SIX. WEEKS.  Yikes.

3. I am also thinking a lot about going to grad school, and I’m looking specifically at a program that focuses on the writing of children’s and YA lit.  It looks incredible.  I’ve been crunching numbers and processing the idea of returning to the land of student loan debt and homework.  I have had my reasons over the last 4-5 years for not going to graduate school, but this program seems to eliminate the big ones (like not getting to work on projects that I deem important).  I’ve been going back and forth, trying to decide if I would resent grad school once I was actually in it and having to churn out drafts for homework again, but my friend Hannah asked me, “Would you go if it was free?” and my immediate response was, “YES!”  She said, “So it’s the money that is the real issue.”  Talk about a revealing moment!  I needed that split-second question to show me what I was really thinking!  If I do go, it will probably be in January 2014.  In the meantime, I have to apply and see if I can even get in!  (It’s a selective school.)  And, of course, I have no time to apply until after Big Sur.

4. My roommate Desiree got engaged!  It’s very exciting, and I’m really happy for her and her fiance.  Des and I have lived together for about six years, so her marriage will really change both of our lives.  I’m in the market for a new roommate for the first time in a long while.  (I thought about living alone, but I just don’t think it would be healthy for me.)

5. I am planning an event, and I am the world’s most stressed-out event planner.  I am pulling together an Easter arts experience with music, poetry, and art, all connected to the death and resurrection of Christ.  (I’m an Easter fanatic!)  VERY excited about this, but I’m also pretty nervous about pulling it all off.  If you live in the Twin Cities and want to come, let me know, and I’ll get you more details.

So that’s life in a nutshell for me.  I’d appreciate your prayers– and advice, if you have any!

Just realized that in my spiritual life, today I am 17, the age of most of the kiddos I’m recruiting.  Gosh, it feels good to be 17.  Good and busy.

to do


accidental novelist

I never meant to become a novelist.

While pursuing my creative writing degree, I took the stance of an archer and aimed my arrows at poetry.  Sure, I took a semester-long class in fiction and even one in the writing of young adult literature, but when the time came for me to set my goals for my senior project, it was all poetry and creative non-fiction.

Years later, in the throes of an intense, prolonged obsession, I found myself jotting down tiny thoughts here and there.  Just chicken-scratches really.  I was heartsick and frantic and depressed, and I couldn’t handle much more than a thought here or there.  Perhaps a month or so later, I looked at that collection of lines and thought, What if I collected them into a book?  Thoughts, poems, short stories, all related to OCD.  Someone would want to read that, right?

For six months or so, I collected stories from life: my thoughts and experiences, poems I wrote about my obsessions, little stories from life.  It was more like a journal than a manuscript, but it felt great.  I was writing every day, a regular at the coffee shop near the university where I work, their very own “writer-in-residence,” as the baristas would tease me and ask me to include them in my book.

It was a mess of thoughts, with little order to it.  I printed off the whole shebang, cut all the parts up, and quite literally sorted each into various categories, trying to force some semblance of order onto it.

cutting apart

After it was all re-grouped, I gave it to my friend Anna for her review.

She said, “Yeahhhhh … it doesn’t work.  Why don’t you ever include real dialogue from your life?”

“I might not get it exactly right,” I told her.  “And that would be like lying.”  It could have become an obsession so easily; instead I avoided it completely by not including dialogue.

“It needs dialogue,” she said.  “It needs to be more of a story and less of a collection of random thoughts.”

But I was months away from the therapy that would give me that kind of freedom, and I knew that I couldn’t make it my own story because I wouldn’t get every detail right, and that would be wrong.  So I decided to make it fiction, which would allow me to invent as much as I wanted.

It took years to transform that original journal into a novel.  I had no idea what I was doing.  Anna kept telling me I was still writing like a memoirist instead of a novelist, and I thought, What’s the difference?  I honestly didn’t know.  I plowed through that like someone wading in a foot of water with cement blocks strapped to her feet.  It was really hard.

But somewhere in the midst of those years, something both incredible and strange happened: I became addicted.

Addicted to writing fiction, to the limitless creativity available to novelists, to the act of creating something out of nothing— trying my hardest to in a small way mimic God in those earliest days of earth.

One year ago, and hooked beyond rescue on fiction (and with no desire for such a rescue), I started a young adult novel.  I gave myself six months for the first draft, and when six months was over, I was shocked that it was a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end.  At the end of six months with the first story, I had a jumbled collection of journalled thoughts.

So I was learning.

Now, a year into this writing, I asked for help from an editor.  Sometimes my life feels like it’s on repeat: he said, “Yeahhhhhh … it doesn’t work.”  Essentially.

It’s okay.  I know that I can massage it into something workable, something publishable, something excellent.  It’s just going to take a lot longer than I first thought.  I want to plead the excuse, “Well, what did you expect?  I’m a poet.”

But not really.  I still love, read, and write poetry, but it’s not the right descriptor anymore.

I am a novelist.

On accident, but a novelist nevertheless.  A clueless one, but learning every day.  Discouraged, but never enough to stop.

I love this identity.




A Night to Believe 2012, Part One

I am so excited to announce that I will be reading an excerpt from my novel, Lights All Around, at “A Night to Believe” next month, culminating OCD Awareness Week!  I emailed today with Michael from the International OCD Foundation, and they are purchasing my flight to Boston and two nights in the Sheraton.  I am beyond thrilled to attend and SO excited to share part of my story with the OCD community.

Thank you to everyone who voted for my submission!  I will update again after the event … which I am nervous about (a little) … reading the excerpt will be an exposure in and of itself.  Nothing like ERPT right in front of a crowd, eh?  🙂  I think I am up to it.

Is anyone else from the blogosphere going to be at this event?  I’d love to meet you, if so!

CBT advocacy

I am a huge, huge, HUGE proponent of cognitive-behavioral therapy (also known more specifically as exposure and response prevention therapy), which gave me back my life.

I wrote a story called Lights All Around— fiction that sings the praises of CBT.  Even though I had already experienced CBT, it wasn’t until I fictionalized my experiences that I felt like I really understood what exactly went on during therapy, the reprogramming of my brain.  The scenes that I am hoping to share during OCD Awareness Week detail the moments when CBT and its premise finally clicked.

If you haven’t voted for my entry “Tipping Point” yet, will you take 3 seconds to do so right now?  Just go to!  I appreciate you!!  (Which 2-3 friends could you ask to vote for me today?  I’d be so grateful!)

Introducing my new novel!

Soooo … did you know that I am working on my second novel?  This time around it is young adult literature.  I’ve read a lot of YA lit, but this is my first real attempt at writing it.  I thought I’d introduce you to my story and see what you think.  Any and all feedback is welcome!


Once a month, my dad takes holy communion to the members of our church who aren’t able to make it to Sunday services.  Most are older folks from Legacy House, the assisted living home in town, but some are those whose wings have been temporarily clipped by bronchitis or a broken hip.  Dad, Pastor Kerry Beck of Green Lake Community Church, reads from the Bible before he shares communion with them.  A striking number of them manage to spill their tiny little plastic cups—miniature shot glasses, really—of grape juice on their shirts, and when they take the tab of bread, they seem to chew it and chew it as if it were a steak.

This particular day, the second Sunday in June, I tagged along on his communion route.  What else was there to do?  The day before I’d waved goodbye to my best friend Trudy, who was abandoning me our last summer before senior year for a counselor-in-training position at a Wisconsin adventure camp.  She drove east toward the Saturday morning sun and the land of the cheeseheads while I sat dejected on my front porch, a stack of already-stamped postcards addressed to Trudy Kirkwood, in care of Camp Summit, resting on my knees.  Without her, I’d been bored within an hour.

And besides, a few concentrated hours with my father was like accidentally finding a diamond in your cereal box.  Pastor, city council member, and coach of my brother’s summer t-ball team—I barely saw him unless he was behind the pulpit or yelling “stay on second!” to third-graders with poor athletic judgment.

At Legacy House, Dad and I first visited Betty Thorman, who uses a walker around her apartment—the kind with the tennis balls on the back legs for easier gliding, and also Marcheline Von Wald, who has dementia and sometimes thinks I’m her daughter, which always creeps me out a little bit, to be honest.  But it’s worth it, because I know the next stop is always Gordon’s apartment.

Gordon Leimbach is blind and closing in on ninety but still sharp as a tack from his days as a university professor.  He sits in his rocking chair and listens to audio books most of the day.  He even smokes a pipe, which absolutely delights me.  I picture him as a sightless Oxford don.

When Gordon answered his door, he knew who’d come to visit.  “Welcome, welcome!  Hello Pastor Beck.  Is that Westie-girl with you today?”

“I’m here, Gordon,” I said.

“Come on in,” he said.  He walked confidently—if not a little hunched—back into his living room and sat down in his rocker.  Gordon knew the layout of his apartment perfectly well, so long as no one moved anything.  “Westie, what did you think of Wednesday’s broadcast?”

My dad rolled his eyes good-naturedly at the companionship between me and Gordon, who shared a love for a weeknight radio talk show called August Arms, a half-hour story collection.  “Was that the one about the stuntman from Canada?” I asked.

“No, no, that was Thursday.  Wednesday was the story on the hummingbird.  Pastor Beck, did West here tell you that hummingbirds are the only birds who can fly backward?”  Gordon wore dark black glasses and kept his silver hair short.

“She did not,” said my dad, who was always amused by Gordon.

I tossed my two-cents in.  “And their wings move in the pattern of the infinity circle.  And on really cold nights, they go into this weird temporary hibernation.”

“Yep,” agreed Gordon, “and some people think seeing a hummingbird means someone you know is going to die soon.”

I drew a line across my neck, making the characteristic noise of a cut throat, and hung out my tongue as if to demonstrate.  Gordon laughed.  “I can picture the face you’re making!” he said.

“Yeah, it’s lovely,” my dad deadpanned as he smiled.  “So, what have you been up to, Gordon?”

“Always learning, Pastor Beck.  Always learning.  Just started teaching myself Spanish through the YouTube.  And listening to The Chronicles of Narnia on compact disc and dreaming about heaven and seeing Mavis again.  El señor, prisa el día.

The YouTube.  Compact disc.  You had to love Gordon.

“Westie, will I see you much this summer?” Gordon asked me.  “I mean, of course, figuratively.”

I laughed.  “I’ll be around.”

“Car detailing again?”

“I guess,” I said.

“She’s bummed because the Tru part of TruWest Detailing is spending the summer in Wisconsin,” my dad explained.

“Trudy’s at an adventure camp,” I disparaged.  “She left me friendless and without a business partner.”

“Haven’t you learned anything from August Arms and all your reading, Westie?”  I waited.  “With a set-up like that—static in the air—lightning is bound to strike.”


I thought we’d head home after the Legacy House, but Dad said there was one more stop.

“Oh,” I said.  “Where at?”

“Some new folks in town,” he said.  “The Harts.  Just moved into the old Griggs house over in Heaton Ridge.”

“All right.”

The town of Green Lake, Minnesota, is shaped like a right-handed mitten—our church and house, as well as downtown, is within the palm, and the more residential area is where the fingers would be.  The long thumb is called Heaton Ridge, the pricey part of town, and the actual lake for which the town is named is nestled in the crook of the thumb like webbing.  Green River flows out of Green Lake and cuts across like a thumb-ring, so that anyone going into or out of Heaton Ridge has to take a bridge.  It’s like their own version of a gated community.

The old Griggs house—or rather, the new Hart house—was nice in comparison to most of the other houses in Green Lake, even amongst those in Heaton Ridge.  Mr. Griggs had invented some sort of clamp that was used in the farming community, and the royalties from that alone were more than the Griggs family needed to live on.  But when Mrs. Griggs’s lupus got out of control, the family moved to Arizona for the warmer weather, and the house had sat empty for the last year and a half.  No one in town could afford it.

It was a relatively new home—about 15-20 years old—and nice but not ludicrous.  It dwarfed the other homes in the neighborhood and was rumored to have a rooftop patio with a custom masonry fire pit worth twelve thousand dollars.  So maybe mildly ludicrous.

We rang the doorbell and waited.  Inside, I could hear a voice yell, “Got it!” and footsteps approaching.  The huge oak door opened, and there stood the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen in my life.  A perfect jawline, incredible lips, and a thick, dark mop of hair that made him look like some kind of 21st century teenage Beatle.  His cheerful eyes looked at us as if we’d come a-caroling.

“Hey there.  You must be Silas!” my dad said.  “Kerry Beck.  This is my daughter West.”

Hi,” I said, wide-eyed.  “I’m West.”

Silas laughed at my redudancy.  “So I’ve heard!  Come on in.  Mom!  Dad!”  He was tall—maybe six-foot-two or  -three—and he wore a well-worn t-shirt that said “PRACTICE SAFE LUNCH: Use a Condiment,” which seemed a little out of place in this house but made me giggle.  “Sunroom is this way.”

Silas led me and Dad into the “sunroom”—which was the humble word for what was actually an extravagant conservatory: glass-paned walls and ceiling, vaulted and with white beams.  There was the palest bamboo floor, a white rug made of something suspiciously like polar bear fur, and perfect white wicker furniture.  Sitting on the couch was a princess.

I blinked.  The girl was young—about my age—and she offered a faint smile to me and my dad.  Her hair was the color of golden honey, and with the afternoon sun shining down through the conservatory ceiling panels, she was glowing like an angel.  She had perfect peach lips, high cheekbones, dramatic eyebrows, and a pale oval face.  I was so thrown by her stunning presence that it took me several moments to realize that this princess was wearing sweat pants.

“Hi Pastor Beck,” said Mr. Hart, stepping into the sunroom with his wife.  He nodded toward his daughter.  “This is—”

“Laurel,” she said, and she held out her hand to shake my father’s hand, although she didn’t stand up.  I wondered if she was paralyzed or something.  Then she turned toward me.  “Hi,” she said, still that slight smile on her face.  Her eyes looked deep into mine for a moment, but then they looked sad, almost hollow, and she looked away.

“I’m West,” I muttered.  “Nice to meet you.”

Everything felt surreal, as if I’d entered some dreamlike fairytale upon entering the sunroom—but then Mrs. Hart put a hand on my shoulder.  “West, good to meet you, sweetie,” she said.  “It was good of you and your father to come.  Silas, why don’t you and West go have fun, and Dad and I will stay here with Laurel and Pastor Beck?”  Go have fun—it reminded me of what my mom would say to me and my sister Libby when we were little.  Go outside.  Play nice.  Mrs. West noticed Silas’s t-shirt, rolled her eyes, and said, “You couldn’t have changed?”

Silas laughed.  “Come on,” he said to me.  “Let’s go upstairs.”

Gosh, he didn’t have to tell me twice.

“So, how long have you guys been in Green Lake?” I asked, following him back toward the front door and up the stairs that ran along the right wall.  The carpet was so thick that I felt like I was wading.

“Just moved a couple weeks ago.  From Fairbanks.”

Alaska?” I asked, dumbfounded.

“Yeah, we’ve lived there for the last three years.  This is my room.”

He opened a door, the second one on the left.  I wasn’t sure what I’d expected to see inside, but it was the room of a teenaged boy.  It was messy—some shirts and jeans lying on the floor, and a pair of boxers, from which I quickly looked away.  There was a small TV in the corner of the room and beside it, a pizza box with one old slice and some pieces of crust.  His nightstand seemed to have a mix of Sports Illustrated magazines and comic books.  Beside his closet was a huge bookcase, double-lined with books.  “Sorry about the mess,” he said.  “I’d like to say that it’s because of the move, but well … I’m just a slob.  Want to see the roof?”

But I was in his room already, the bookcase drawing me in like a tractor beam.  “You like to read,” I said.  Then, realizing it was the second obvious thing I’d said in the last ten minutes, I blushed.

But Silas laughed—clear, buoyant—and sat down on his bed, watching me peruse his titles.  “I do like to read, This-is-West-my-name-is-West.”

I rolled my eyes, but it was all good natured.  “How did you get so many books?”

“Growing up in the Hart family, you got books instead of toys.  I guess it stuck.”

“What’s your favorite?”

“Mmmm,” he said.  “Billy Collins.  Heard of him?”

I nodded.  “He’s a poet, right?”  I narrowed my eyes at Silas skeptically.  “Really?”  I didn’t know any teenagers who read poetry—I didn’t even read poetry, and I read more than anyone I knew.

“Cross my heart and hope to die,” he promised, still grinning where he sat on the bed.  Behind Silas’s head, hanging on the wall over his bed, were posters.  One said, “NOTICE” in official-looking red letters across the top, and beneath it ran the words, “Thank you for noticing this notice.  Your noting it has been noted.”  Beside it was poster of an orange (yes, the fruit) looking in horror at a glass of orange juice and saying, “Mom??”  In the corner of the room was a full-sized cardboard cutout of Darth Vader.

“Does Vader like to watch you sleep?” I teased, nodding toward the cutout.

“Nah,” said Silas, “but he joins me in bed and puts his head on my chest.  We both fall asleep to the sound his ventilated breathing.  It’s very soothing.”

I laughed.

Looking back at the shelves, I noticed a wide range—from Louis Sachar to John Steinbeck.  And Donovan Trick.  “What did you think of Collier?” I asked.

“It was good.  Actually, if it’s on that bookcase, it got my thumbs up.  I sell everything else on eBay.  I can’t stand to have crap lying around in my room.”

I gestured to the mess on his floor.  “I don’t quite believe you.”

Silas laughed and shrugged.  “You got me,” he said.  “So, are you a reader or do you write too?”

“Just a reader.”

“You’re lucky,” he said.  When I raised my eyebrows, he said, “Readers can just enjoy.  Writers enjoy a great sentence for about a minute, then we’re so envious we either want the incredible writer to die or we want to kill ourselves because we figure we’ll never write a sentence as good.  Or maybe that’s just me.”

“Do you listen to August Arms?” I asked.

“Huh?  Is that a band?”

“It’s a radio show.  It comes from Collier—you know that part where he says, ‘Stories are our most august arms against the darkness’?  The show is cool, just full of interesting stories.  You’d like it.  You know, or want to kill yourself.”  We both laughed.

I sat down on the edge of his bed.  “So what’s with Laurel?” I asked.  “Can she walk?”

He scowled.  He had a tiny freckle on his left cheek.  “Yes.  She’s fine.”

“Oh,” I retreated.  “Sorry.  We just—sorry.”

Silas shrugged and seemed to soften.  “It’s fine,” he said.  “I’m just protective; Laurel’s my twin sister.  It was really good of your dad to bring over communion.  Body and the Blood.  Good stuff.”

I was used to my dad using church phrases like that—but no one my own age talked that way.  “How old are you?” I asked him, suspiciously.

“Seventeen.  You?”


I was looking hard at Silas Hart.  His cheekbones were high like Laurel’s, his eyebrows rapacious, and his eyes a dark, dark brown that looked just as alive as Laurel’s had looked hollow.  “What?” he asked, but this time his voice was cheerful again, almost teasing.

“West!” I heard my dad shout up the stairs.  “Ready to go?”

Silas and I walked down the stairs.  I glanced back down the hall in the direction of the sunroom, hoping to see Laurel again, as if she were an oddity, but the couch was empty.

“Silas, good to meet you today.  I hope we’ll see you at church next week too?” my dad asked.

“With bells on, sir,” Silas promised.

“Glad you got to meet Westlin,” Dad said.  “Maybe she can show you what’s fun in Green Lake, introduce you to some of her friends.”

“Maybe she can show me where to find a decent summer job,” he said to my dad, but glanced at me with a smile.  “That’s my first priority.”

“West here makes pretty good money doing car detailing in the summer, and she’s short a business partner and needing some help.”

Both Dad and Silas looked at me.  “You interested?” I squeaked out.


“We start tomorrow morning at nine in my driveway.  We’re in the parsonage by the community church.  Wear junky clothes.”

Silas pointed to his condiments t-shirt with a smirk.  “I’ll be there at five to.”


Dear Tru,

I met twins today—secrecy and spirit, dark and light.

Love, West

This is how I picture Silas Hart.

YA literature

Young adult literature is probably my favorite kind of book to read.  It’s fun, accessible, and– if you’re a picky reader like I am– it’s incredibly well written.  Here’s a list of some of my all-time favorite YA lit.

1) Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
2) Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
3) The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
4) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
5) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
6) Ordinary People by Judith Guest
7) Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
8) Bridge to Terabithia by Kathleen Patterson
9) Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
10) The Pigman by Paul Zindel

… and so many more (Saving Francesca, Finnikin of the Rock, The Sky is Everywhere, Tuck Everlasting, The Secret Garden …)!  Do you like YA lit?  What are your favorites?  Have you tried writing YA lit before?  What are the critical elements to include in any YA story?

books books books

I know I blog a lot about how much I love to write, but hand-in-hand with that is my love for reading.  My reading feeds my writing.

What I have read and enjoyed recently:
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
My entire Billy Collins collection of poetry (I literally re-read through 7-8 Collins books in 3 days)

What I am reading and enjoying now:
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (I have probably read this book around 75 times; it’s my favorite, and I re-read favorites the way I eat chocolate.)
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
World War Z by Max Brooks
Desiring God by John Piper
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

I buy books faster than I can read them– and I read fast!  But reading fuels my energy to write, and I find myself returning to my laptop, eager to build my own worlds.

Christian media

Last Friday I had an adventure with my former writing professor Judy.  We went to Macalester College to meet Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz, one of my favorite books, and watch a special pre-screening of Blue Like Jazz: The Movie.

The movie was very well done, a fictionalized account of Miller’s time at Reed College in Portland, Oregon– a story about a young Christian who is stepping away from his faith and trying his hand at life.  I loved that it didn’t shy away from any tough issues.  The movie was gritty and raw and real, and I encourage everyone to go see it on April 13th.

Steve Taylor, the movie’s director, was at the event as well, and he introduced the film by saying, “Since when did ‘Christian’ come to mean ‘family-friendly’?”  He pointed out that the Bible itself contained stories that kids might not be old enough to hear.

When I think of Christian movies, I think of cheesy, overdone movies with bad acting and fairytale endings.  When I think of Christian books, I think of poorly written, G-rated romance novels with unbelievable, over-the-top conversion scenes and lots of scenes where the protagonist “happens to” come across a Bible verse directly suited to her situation.  No thanks.

Writing about Jesus is tricky, let me tell you.  How do you write about an eternal God who supernaturally reaches into people’s chests and grips their hearts without sounding insane?  How do you write about spiritual experiences in a way that people who do not love God can come along for the ride?

I think this movie is going to be a big step in the right direction.  Check out the trailer hereLet me know your thoughts on all this!