Friday, January 29, 2010

Afeared of Writing

Yep, I'm a little afeared of writing.

A little.

Afeared of being rejected. But then. Not really.

I sold life insurance once. I'm tough. Of course, that gig didn't last long.

But I do get enough feedback to think I don't totally stink.

Afeared of being accepted and how that would affect the simpler life I long for.

Afeared I won't make enough money to keep me from going back to "work," even though I do have a supportive "sugar daddy."

Afeared that I will lose interest with anything longer than a blog post.

Afeared that I will start what I don't finish.

The woman of fizzling interests.

Afeared that I will spend too much time writing and ignore other important things. It's already happening.

Afeared  that I will run out of time to sing all my songs now that I've entered my "golden years."

Afeared that I will share too much of my WIP, and it will lose its magic or (GASP!) get stolen.


Afeared that I won't share enough of my WIP.

Cuz I need help! Big time!

I'm not afraid of nonfiction.  Devotionals. It's easy for me to behold God in the mundane. It's easy for me to tie spiritual meanings to earthly things. I can weave thought rags into colorful word rugs.

At least I think so.

Someone else may disagree.

I'm not afraid to "write naked." In fact, my family probably wishes I wasn't so "bare."

But I'm afraid if I become too well known (HAHAHAHAHA!), skeletons shoved in the closet depths will tumble out before their bones are dry.

It's why I would never let hubby run for public office.

Yep, I'm cool when it comes to nonfiction.

I think when it comes to fiction, though, I'm afraid to let my imagination loose. Afraid of loosing control. Afraid of where it might carry me. I've frisked those thoughts so many times, tied them up in the corral, took away their grain, let them languish in the shadows.

I might be a little afraid that others will talk amongst themselves. What DOES go on in her mind? Where does she come UP with this stuff?

Although I s'pose that can be a good thing.

So I'm cracking the stall door. Praying that the Creator of creative thoughts will guide my thoughts within His creative boundaries. That my story and character arcs will reach for Him, bow toward Him, and find hope and redemption in Him. That the pot of gold at the end of every story will reflect Him.

Nope. I ain't afeared.

What are you afraid of?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Arkeology of Writing

I've been thinking about Noah's ark and writing.

A handful of characters shut into a setting and set asea. A few conflicts tossed in to stir up noise and smell up the place. A window for the reader to observe the action. And finally, the story comes to rest. The author opens the door and lets the characters out, maybe to eventually be shut up in another setting.

Noah built the ark in three levels. As I study this fiction thing, I see that authors often build in threes.
  • Setup, Confrontation, Resolution.
  • Theme, Plot, Growth.
  • Development, Plot, Pace.
  • Beginning, Middle, End.
  • Rising Action, Reversals, Recognition.
  • Complication, Conflict, Climax.
  • Characters, Plot, Dialogue.
  • Story, Substance, Structure.
  • Three-Dimensional Characters.

I've also been thinking about character arc--how a character grows during a story, either changes or realizes affirmation. Kind of reminds me of a rainbow. Like Noah, minding his own business, doing whatever Noah did until he got "the call." Challenge and conflict set in motion. A life storm. Rising tension. And then the bright colors of resolution and promise at the end of the storm.

And in my study, I found this article and inspiring video on Steadfast Main Characters.

Can you think of any analogies between writing and Noah's ark?

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book Review - Faces in the Fire by T.L. Hines

(Originally posted on Beholding God on 08/17/09)

Faces in the Fire (published by Thomas Nelson) was my introduction to the work of T.L. Hines. The book pulled me in immediately, but it took me a few chapters to realize that they, the chapters, were all mixed up, disjointed, and set within stanzas that served to separate the stories within the story. I also noticed the shadows of handwritten titles and chapter numbers behind the printed ones. That in itself was intriguing, and although this is a fiction suspense thriller, described as “noir bizarre,” I found myself underlining character quotes, phrases, symbols, names, and other bits of information—trying to put pieces of the puzzle together. I finished the book a few days ago, but it continues to haunt me.

“Sometimes as humans, we need to move backwards before we can move forward.”

Faces in the Fire revolves around 4 characters. Kurt is the truck driver/sculptor who can’t remember his past but is haunted by ghosts. Corinne is the e-mail spammer diagnosed with lymphoma who embraces the basement of her past. Grace is the tattoo artist/heroin addict running from her past, and Stan is the hit man who is a prisoner of his past.

In a sense, the book reminded me a little of the concept of 6 degrees of separation. The lives of major and even minor characters are “coincidentally” intertwined through their attempts to find some sense of identity and significance. Threads of numbers, catfish, ghosts, shoes, locked doors, fire, human and supernatural touch and voices run throughout.

This is an easy read and will appeal to anyone who wants to sit on the edge of their seat, continually turn just one more page, and be surprised in the end. It’s a great, yet weird, story with loose ends attached--much like our own lives, often disjointed and frayed at the edges, with shadows of the past that we can choose to embrace or overcome in time.

I saw hope, redemption, and freedom for those facing the fires of life, those who have been burned, and even “bottom feeders” when grace knocks on the door and is invited in. We can find our true face, and old things can indeed become new.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Arc? What's an Arc?

Snady was in her office, typing away, creating a few posts for her blog there. She was a good devotional writer.

Clickity-clack. Clickity-clack. Clickity-clack.



Somebody call?

Clickity-clack. Clickity-clack. Clickity-clack.



Who is that?

It's the Lord--Snady.

Right. Where are ya? Whaddya want? I been good. Sorta.

I want you. to build. an arc.

A boat? You want me to build a boat? But that's already been done.

No. I want you to build an a-r-c.

Right. What's an a-r-c?

Look it up.

Flip, flip, flip.

The dictionary says an "arc" is a curve forming part of a circle, like a bow. 

Umm . . .You want me to build a bow?

Been there. Done that. (Genesis 9:13-16)
Look a little further.

Google. Google. Google. 

Here's something called a "character arc" and a drawing that looks like the St. Louis Arch and . . . 

Uh oh. Wait a minute. Lord, this is starting to sound like fiction. You don't want me to write (gulp) fiction. Umm . . . do you?

Bingo! I want you to build a story, some stories. It won't be easy, but you're too comfortable where you are. It'll be an uphill climb, a wild ride, and you'll struggle. A lot. But you will grow in the process. And one day you'll be comfortable again.

Trust me. Still.

GULP! Again.

Study, study, study.

Hmm. This character arc stuff seems kind of important. Next time I'll share some things I discovered.

In the meantime, enjoy this Bill Cosby video.

Question: Are you too comfortable where you are right now?

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, January 18, 2010

7 Writing Tips From a 7-Year-Old

Reposting this from my other blog because--well, because it belongs here. And I needed the refresher.

Sometimes--no, often--Gracee amazes me with insightful words. Lately she has dispensed writing advice with wisdom beyond second grade. Who needs to attend a writers' conference when you have a live-in mentor?

Here are 7 of her tips.

1. Think of your story as a gift. Put lots of excitement in the box. Make it fun to read.

2.  Have a central idea. Put it on the back cover because that's what authors do.

3.  Add description (detail words).
  • No:  I got my ears pierced.
  • Yes: My mom took me to a little store called Claire's in the mall to get my ears pierced for my seventh birthday.
4.  Use dialogue (talking words).
  • No:  I was nervous.
  • Yes: "Mom," I said. "Hold my hand because I'm kind of nervous."
5.  Use lots of action (energy words)
  • No:  I sat in the chair.
  • Yes: I climbed up on a tall stool, kicked my legs back and forth and bit my lower lip.
6.  Use expression (feeling words).
  • No:  It was over.
  • Yes: I felt proud when it was over and smiled big when I saw my earrings in the mirror, even though one giant tear floated in my right eye.
7.  Use onomatopoeia (noise words). Yes, she said this!
  • No: The gun was loud.
  • Yes: Bang! Bang! The gun shot an earring into each ear, and I did not jump.
When you are done writing your story, wrap it up. Tie up all loose ends. Make the book cover pretty!

In Pursuit,

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Writing Room of My Own--A Tour

It's not exactly a palace.

But it's a step up from the pit. With a penthouse view. Where I can look down on the fields.

I used to work in the dungeon. The furnace room. In the basement. Where I could look up at some face staring at me. A possum. A woodchuck. A raccoon. A skunk. Or a cat. Some critter that sought refuge under our porch. Nose pressed to window. Only one made it inside, though. King Kobe.
Now I work two floors up. In the room where my son slept for 20-plus years. In the room where my husband slept for 20-plus years. At the top of the house. On the north side of this 150-plus-year-old farmhouse. Where it gets cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Where the floor slopes just so, so that I often have to hook my leg around the desk leg when I work to keep from rolling out the door and down the stairs.

Thump! Thump! Thump!

But it's mine. All mine! A real writing studio. I'm on top of the world.

And I don't need to worry about looking up to see a face out the window. I only have to worry about jumping out the window if my heater or fan or 'puter or another of my many electrical devices catches fire. Or if someone sneaks up behind me while I'm engrossed in my writing world.

There's a bit more clutter here than you'd expect given the dump truck mentality I've described in my other blog. But almost everything has some meaning and provides inspiration.

Let me take you on a brief tour. Or not so brief.
Welcome. This is what you would see as you enter.

I spend hours in this chair. Notice the paraffin bath under the desk? Great way to pamper and work at the same time!  By the way, I hate cords!

My reading place, also known as the pansy corner. "Pansy" was my father-in-law's pet name for his wife.
This is actually a porch rocker from Cracker Barrel--oh so comfy!
This picture hangs above my rocker. A family friend painted it in 1997. She took painting classes after her husband died, and I think she must have been in her 70s when she did this. I've noted many of her paintings in stores around my hometown, and this reminds me that you are never too old to pursue your dreams.

My dad created this relief carving and the pansy letter opener. (He carves canes, too.) It reminds me that God has placed a gene of creativity within me, actually from both parents since my mom has penned some fun poems.
I had to hang this with the rest of the pansies. It reminds me of the wonderful gifts God has given us in our children--in His time and in His way.
What I see as I sit at my desk. I might catch a glimpse of deer or a fox. Once we even saw a coyote chasing deer. And I can watch Gracee as she plays.
Binoculars stand ready for a wildlife closeup!

My son made the clay project in Sunday School. The lamb was a gift to him from our adult Sunday School class when he was baptized. A reminder to let the Good Shepherd guide me in all I write. Well, actually in everything!
A little prayer corner.
Another Sunday School project. This time my husband's--probably over 50 years ago.
The view from the prayer corner, facing east.
I love to chair fly to the bookcase. Not all my books are here. There are two identical cases downstairs as well as on a wall in another room and in cabinets in the garage. Most books escaped the declutter brigade. I'm thinking the white boxes on the top right shelf will be perfect for storing manuscripts. (Will they each hold 90,000 words?) The three white magazine boxes on the left hold research material for my works in progress. The fourth one on the right and the white notebook hold current Bible study materials. The books on that shelf are ones I'm planning to review. I've already written reviews for those on the bottom. The white box on the second shelf, right bookcase, holds material related to the Bible study I'm currently teaching.
Closeup of a picture done by a local artist, Jesus and children. The caption reads, "A merry heart doeth good medicine." It reminds me to be childlike in my faith.
I cross-stitched this back in 1983.

Moving now to my desk . . .
The Lord is my shepherd! Hangs above my computer.
Chocolate for energy! I use the colored Twistables for marking my Bible. The dogwood reminds me of  Georgia (we lived there three times) and of Jesus because of the legend that is attached to the dogwood.
My sister gave me "A Quiet Moment" (Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus) that sits on top of this antique spool cabinet that houses supplies. I seldom watch the TV, but the Worship Network shows some awesome nature videos combined with scripture and music.
Moleskine planner and notebook. I keep another notebook in my purse. Great for capturing notes, last forever, and make me feel like a real writer. Purchased at Barnes & Noble.
And, of course, my bookworm pen.
Compassion International! Releasing children from poverty, in Jesus' name.

A sheep bank to remind me I can actually make money doing something I love. And an aromatherapy candle. Serenity!

Another drawing by local artist, Barbara Bosworth. Amazing Grace! "And you shall call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:20.
"The draped ribbon joining these images symbolizes our common need of God's Saving Grace forming the name of the one who alone can offer such . . . Jesus."
Can you see His name?
She also incorporated lambs in the composition to represent the parable of the Good Shepherd.
"Fear not, for I have redeemed thee. I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine." Isaiah 43:1
Given to me by my Precept class more than 25 years ago. This verse has carried me through many trials and doubts.
From my daughter.
From my son. Turn it on for light, shimmering water, and the sounds of birds.
This is a Homedics sound machine that plays sounds of a rainforest, ocean, thunder, a summer night, a waterfall, and rain. Currently I have a CD playing "soothing sounds of the Native American flute." I also play "spa sounds" of Celtic harp and hammered dulcimer. At some point I'll try some soundtracks. I'm just getting used to having music while I work. One of the white boxes holds music CD's and the other holds photo and backup CDs.
Last, but not least, this floor register provides heat. The animals like to lie over it.
I supplement with an electric heater on my feet, so the paraffin bath is a necessity!

And that concludes today's tour.

I'm glad you stayed until the end, and I wish we could sit down and have a cup of tea--or coffee--together and share a bit of chocolate. Maybe next time.

My writing "studio" is a work in progress. My writing is a work in progress. I am a work in progress!

Where do you write?

In Pursuit,

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In Pursuit---An Introduction

I missed out on a late-night conversation during the holidays. My sister apparently told my daughter and niece that I am a woman of many interests. That I throw myself into something and then abandon it when something else grabs my attention.

That might just have been a nice way of describing me as fickle. But then she told them that I always came back to writing.

She's got that straight. Sisters are smart like that. Especially younger and wiser ones. She reads me.

Lots of pursuits entailing lots of supplies entailing lots of money. Sometimes even making money.

Lots of hobbies. Soapmaking, quilting, antiquing, decorating, organic and vegetarian cooking. For starters.

Lots of jobs. Nursing, transcribing, editing, selling. For starters.

But it always comes back to writing. And reading, too. The pursuit of words. Tasting and tumbling sounds and syllables. Delighting in the perfect phrase. Making music with the alphabet. A passionate pursuit in the midst of pursuits.

I can't remember not writing in some form.

I loved Bambi so much that I brought the book home from the school library and attempted to copy it with a pencil.

I wrote long letters to my aunt who was a cloistered nun. Some were in journal form inspired by Jo from the Little Women.

Once I wrote a Nancy Drew type story where I was the heroine and captured bad guys down by the lake. I sent it to a local newspaper, just like Jo. It came back with a written rejection, and I burned both.

My parents took me to a Tigers game when I graduated from eighth grade. I wrote a poem about the game (the Tigers beat the Yankees) and sent it to George Kell and Ernie Harwell along with an autograph book. I don't know what they did with the poem. They didn't return it. But they did return the autograph book, and every player had signed it, including Al Kaline. A couple years later, I decided that was childish. And I burned it.


In the 80's I took a writing course through the Christian Writer's Institute with Esther Vogt as my instructor. I went to a CWI conference and started to submit articles. Some were actually accepted, and I made a little money. I wrote and edited a church newsletter.

During this time, I also dug deep in the Word, inductively, and led Precept classes. I taught. I spoke. I overcommitted to good stuff. 

And then came pain. Infertility. Pregnancy loss. Children adopted in our mid and late thirties. More joy and more pain. A granddaughter born to a single mom. Challenges. Dark nights of the soul. Wilderness times. Mountaintop moments. Emotional and spiritual growth.

And then near total burnout. Overwhelmed. Living life in frantic fragments with a blurred focus. I was tempermental and moody.

And restless with a deep desire to have my time, my work, my life, stamped with eternity.

I quit my job to regain my balance. I began to dig out of the rubble.

Dorothea Brande in her book, Becoming a Writer, says of a writer that "the moods and tempers, when they actually exist, are symptoms of the artist's personality gone wrong--running off into waste effort and emotional exhaustion."

So maybe my moods, my crankiness, my overwhelmed state were really a result of being overwhelmed with the wrong things? I'm certainly as busy or busier now as then and am much more overwhelmed with joy.

Ms. Brande also talks about arranging "affairs and relations so that they help you instead of hinder you on your way toward the goal you have chosen."

Or that was chosen for me?

At any rate, once I started the decluttering of heart, home, and head, I began to hear more clearly. A whisper. A faint rumble. A call. The call. Passion reawakened.

The right pursuit. The write pursuit. Placed in my heart by the One whom I pursue. With Whom I want to be right.

So today I spin this blog off Beholding God, which I started late last summer. That one simmered with an eclectic flavor. But now it will be mostly devotional and personal.

I hope The Write Pursuit will appeal to readers and writers, those also in pursuit of words. I'll focus on my writing journey, book reviews, author interviews, maybe some guest blogs, and writing tips as I learn them.

Thanks for visiting. I hope you'll come back, and I hope you'll find some encouragement for your own journey.

P.S. The pen above is a bookworm pen, a Christmas gift from my sister. The perfect gift for a reader/writer. You can find it and others here.

In pursuit,

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King