Landing on a Dime

Recently, I was over at my friend Kristin’s Minnesota house (she spends most of the year at her Kenya house), discussing writing and Christian art.

Kristin is lovely and brilliant and so terribly wise– and she gets me, gets my heart.  She knows how the desperate cry of my heart is to honor God in my writing through creating a book that is excellent and thought-provoking while avoiding mawkish sentimentality and all cliches, Christian or otherwise.

It’s so hard.

dime“I feel like I’m parachuting,” I told her, “and trying to land on a spot the size of dime.”

That is how precise my goal seems.  I want my stories to be just offensive enough to disturb someone’s thoughts– but not so offensive that they’ll put down the book.  I want them to be full of mystery– but with enough clues to find the answer.  I want them to reflect the trials, confusions, and joys of my deepest heart– but in a way that no one will find cheesy or trite.

Again: the size of a dime.

I’m not sure that I am a good enough writer to hit such a bullseye (in fact I feel quite confident that I am not).  So, what then?  Do I stop writing?

Of course not.  Not when that’s the goal of my life and the best worship I can offer.

I tell myself, You’re 31.  Keep writing and you’ll be better at 32 … 33 … 34.  But I am a perfectionist, an achiever, a go-getter, and terribly impatient.  I get frustrated with myself (see here, here, here, here, here, and here) and get so down and low, or else frantic and scared.  But the best I can do is to keep writing, continue praying, practice grace, revel in creation, and gauge my faithfulness.

And my faithfulness looks like persistence, like fidelity to Christ, to his gifts, and to showing up.

On the writing front …

I thought I’d give you all a little update on what I’ve been up to, creativity-wise.writer

I just attended a children’s and YA writing conference.  It was held right here in Minneapolis, so I thought I’d take advantage of its being local, and I’m so glad I did.  The keynote speakers (husband-and-wife team David Small and Sarah Stewart spoke on Saturday, and Donna Bray of Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins spoke on Sunday) were all absolutely incredible.  I also attended four classes, including one on Sex and YA Literature, which I think I’m going to blog about soon.

I have a draft of my novel that is ready for line edits.  I will be working with Ben again, the same editor I’ve been working with since last Christmas.  At the time, I blogged about how risky it was for me to purchase that mentorship, but I am so glad to report that it was MORE than worth it!

I am in the middle of writing a short story.  It’s about four teenaged wards of the state living in hospice care.  Morbid much?  But I feel very invested in these thirteen pages, very passionate about these four friends who have no one but each other as their time is running out.  My writing group is helping me with the next draft, and I’m hoping to enter it into a contest before the month is over.

I started another new short story just this week.  This one is about two half-sisters, Fightest and Lou, and, in the words of Judy Hougen, I’m writing till I know.

I am trying my hand at short works of poetry and flash fiction.  It’s helping me to keep limber while I wait to dive back into novel work.

I have put hours upon hours of research into creating a list of agents to query.  My list is about 80 deep.  I am so hoping that someone in that group will take an interest in my manuscript– but who knows?  No matter what, I will not stop writing.

I have been researching hooks and re-drafting my query letter like crazy.  The query letter is proving to be more difficult than writing the novel itself– and far less enjoyable.  The “hook” is a short sentence that is intended to pique the interest of the reader; it’s usually the tagline on the front of the novel.  I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anything more difficult to write.  

Plus blogging, always blogging …