Slightly Overwhelmed. Like a Little.

I’ve been feeling like I’m stuck in a large, swirling, rather nebulous cloud of resources lately; it isn’t really writer’s block, since (I’m told) that’s a place where you hit a wall and there is no way out. It’s more like hitting a wall and having a hundred ways out. I am at the center of a labyrinth, and all the stone-faced tunnels around me are threatening to drive me insane.

This has been the marketing process: a thousand rabbit trails, a thousand potential venues for advertising myself, a thousand things I would rather not do. Frankly, it’s exhausting; my parents told me to just do the next thing, just do the next thing, it’s all in God’s hands, but figuring out what the next thing is seems to be a bigger problem than actually doing it. Should I write an email? A blog post? A Facebook post? Is it more important to get my church involved with a book signing or to recruit my relatives onto my email list? Where does the actual editing of my book fit into all of this?

The last week has consisted of me asking these questions, then reading my emails and finding more options and asking more questions, then doing several hours of research online to try and find some sort of resolution–and then not actually having time to do the things the research is telling me to do. This has happened almost every day. I have a full-time job at a Chick-fil-A in the mornings, but I feel like I am also working a full-time job in the evenings, and my morning work is–how can it even be?–a break. I’m telling you: writing a book is HARD.

However, I stumbled upon some food for thought in 1 Corinthians the other day, and it’s made me wonder if all of this craziness is okay. 1:27-29 says, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” My foolishness in regards to the publishing world–the idea that I could possibly ever market a book in less than a month, the effort I’m putting into avoiding the I’m-great-read-me speech that so many use (to maddening effect!)–might have some fruit, even if it goes against everything all the experts say. I don’t mean I’m trying to be stupid or expecting God to cook my dinner for me. I just mean, even if I do things in my arduous, confusing, and overwhelmed way, God can use me. We’ll have to see how He does it, but I’m confident He is able.

Life| maze    that     you  }
| is a  / .rehpiced ot evah

Complications abound.
So does pain.

You’ll never} / want to
{dnif yllaer /  you  / go.
your way  where /

It’s hard that way.
But God’s got your back.
He’ll give you a string like Ariadne’s
(His Word)
To guide you, and even if }
{ ,tsol elttil a teg uoy
He’ll show you the
                 / Right /
               / Way   /

Trust Him.
He’s got your }


Writer’s Keys: Lying in Wait for a Raven, Step 1

Ideas are really such slippery things; as smooth as a raven, with sleek shining wings.

Harnessing That sort of a bird can be difficult, because there are fat, distracting, and overused pigeons idling in much easier reach. But there’s an art to catching what you really want, if you know where to look. Spontaneous though it may seem when coming from the Greats (Dickinson and Dickens and Hemingway and Hawthorne), lying in wait for a raven is purely technical and purely intentional, nine ravens out of ten.

By far the most important trick is to discredit the easily reachable birds. Given a prompt, most will take hold of the first pigeon they see, and admire its feathers, and give themselves a pat on the back for Originality and Cleverness. It is all too easy to fall into this trap, but when avoided it causes an exponential increase in true originality. Examine one such prompt:

A pair of unlikely friends.

The first idea one thinks up involves a popular, athletic sort of boy in middle or high school, and a quiet girl of the same age and a very different mien. You may have some slight variation on this standard, but it almost certainly stems from the same tree.

This is a pigeon, of the Fattest, Laziest, and Most Stereotypical Sort.

Ditch it.

As much as anyone dislikes the truth, we all live in the same world as everyone else, and the same country as a great number of people. With many of these we share a language, a lifestyle and an outlook on life; therefore, we have the same associations, the same cultural cliches, the same assets and setbacks. And we think up the same first ideas.

So the first step in catching a raven is to not catch the nearest pigeon, no matter how glossy its feathers appear to be, and no matter how well-fed and comfortable it seems. It has almost certainly been caught, caged, capacitated and coddled a thousand times before. You have to Let It Go.

Once your eyes are opened to the truth of what is really a desirable bird to catch, you can train yourself to find the rarer ones, those that hide in the undergrowth masquerading as pheasants or sparrows rather than sitting plumply on eye-level branches. Writing is reaching. Nine ravens out of ten.

For further writing steps, sign up for my email list here and I’ll send you a free download of the whole document.