There Is More To Writing A Novel Than Pouring Out A Story

I have time. After all, I have waited thirty-five years to get to this point. I am as committed to completing the Millard: Warrior of the King series as Frodo was to getting the Ring of Power to Mount Doom. Doing a project as vast as this requires time and a great deal of patience, especially if you want it to impact your audience.

For any of you who are considering writing your first novel, let me make some recommendations before you spend six months to a year revising your manuscript five or six times.  Go back to school!

I don’t mean literally, although if you have the time and money, go for it. What I mean is read some books on the subject. My editor recommended three books for me that I have found extremely helpful and eye-opening.  Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark; Elements of Fiction Writing-Characters and Viewpoint by Olson Scott Card; and Novelist’s Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes by Raymond Obstfeld.

In my case the story of Millard literally poured out of me at one sitting in 1992. I have read that J K Rawlings had a similar experience writing her first Harry Potter book.  When it happened to me, I could see the beginning and the end very clearly. Since that time, I have had similar experiences, leaving me with dozens of pieces of a story to assemble into a book. Cutting and pasting was a disaster. I found myself with duplicate storylines, too many explanations, and even the wrong names for characters (because I forgot that I had changed some of them).

Once I was in the proper setting (living in the mountains) and had the time available (without too much interruption), I started from scratch. Just like 1992 the story poured out of me. I had literal visions of the beginning, the middle and the end, and I worked to fine tune the middle. When I had completed my first draft, I went through it a second time, and a third, fourth and fifth, quite proud of myself for completing 80,000+ words. Not being very disciplined at anything, I felt that I had really accomplished something. However, was it everything it could be?

No. Not by a long shot. Just because you have a story that you know is God-breathed, does not mean that it is ready to print. Sure, you can go ahead and self-print a book without it being professionally edited, but your work would probably be mediocre at best. (I am referring specifically to works of fiction, not to biblical teachings or inspirational books.) Knowing and understanding the process of writing good fiction is an absolute necessity if you want your work to be excellent.

Because one of my majors was Journalism, I thought that I could write. I had gotten straight “A”s in every writing, literature and English class in both high school and college. But journalism and fiction are different. Writing fictional novels requires a great deal of thought and planning; trial and error with point of view; strategic scene development; knowing what clichés, phrases, adjectives and adverbs not to use; and a firm commitment to go the extra mile.  Plus, you cannot be sensitive to constructive criticism. Be humble and teachable, even if it is “your baby.”

A good editor is one who truly wants to see your book become the very best it can be, and is willing to work with you to achieve that goal. Not a proofreader, but more of a building inspector.

I am in the middle of this process now, and it is wonderful. I have no doubt that when this first book is released, it will be the very best it can be. I have to do my part, but I am willing and determined to see it through. I really have no choice in the matter. It is part of my destiny.

My thanks to NY Book Editors (NYBookEditors.com), to Dan, and to Andy, my editor. I won’t stop working until it meets with your approval!

Quick Nugget

If you think that you have lost that special creative God-given gift… or that maybe it was just for a particular season in your life….you haven’t lost it and He hasn’t stopped it.

You or your circumstances may have stopped you, but God hasn’t. The gift is still there inside of you, and His Grace never leaves you. Pick it back up and run with it. You will see that His anointing will continue to flow. He is just waiting for you to pick it up…whether it is music, art, poetry, prose, dance…any gift that you know is God-breathed. Like I have said many times, never ever give up! We all have gifts that are part of His intricate tapestry. Finish what He started in you and through you! Your part is precious to Him!

Boomers….We All Have Wisdom To Share

Today, I am speaking primarily to the “baby boomers” out there. Perhaps only to the boomers like me. To the creative boomers. The undisciplined, impulsive, once “radically different from our parents” boomers. The offspring of “the Great Generation.” Those of us who started adulthood ready to let the cards fall where they may; who started our twenties with no real clue of what we were going to do with our lives; who suddenly find ourselves “old,” and wondering what we actually did over the past forty plus years.

Some of us, hopefully, have grown up, having lived through college/s, marriage/s (or not), raising children (or not), divorce/s (in some cases), extended families, careers, employers, employees, unexpected career changes, investment losses, the IRS, mortgages, etc. We have survived wars and rumors of war, Tiny Tim, the personal computer, MTV, big hair, Richard Simmons, the Internet, the “blue dress,” September 11, political scandals, extremes on every side “of the aisle,” and now, social media.

But, unfortunately, many of us carry scars from years of disappointments, rejection, abuse, sickness, financial stupidity, addictions, loneliness, etc., which can have a crippling effect on our lives and interfere with our ministry to others.

Our scars need to be healed.

If we allow Him, God will heal all of our scars so that we are no longer emotional wrecks carrying truck loads of unwanted baggage on our backs. Jesus paid the price for our healing and deliverance through His death and resurrection. He freely gives us His grace to forgive those who have caused those scars. To those who have offended or wounded us over the years.

The Holy Spirit will drive out the pain and residue (spiritual bondage) from rejection, bitterness, and any darkness that may still be hanging on to our hearts. He fills the voids with His love, allowing our souls to recover and be renewed to new life in Him.

But first, we must come to Him.  Ask Him to show us those areas that need healing. The Holy Spirit will shine His light on our scarred souls and remove the arrows, applying His healing balm to the wounds. He will comfort us as our wounds heal.

Do you know how to tell if you are free from a wound in your heart? When you can think about or share a painful experience, and it doesn’t scratch and claw at your belly or make you angry again! You no longer have an uncontrolled emotional reaction to a hurt, but rather, you can see your experience as a “life lesson.” You can remember the pain, but you truly have “no hard feelings.”

This is the fruit of genuine forgiveness.

We of the baby boom generation are meant to be the wise ones now. Sadly, the Great Generation is all but gone. It is a scary thought, but it is our time to pass on all that we have learned over our lifetimes. But in order to do that, we need to get our hearts fixed, if they need fixing. We must let go of the pain we have been carrying around for decades so that we can lead by example and not just by our words. We are called to walk in the light, free of the dark shadows that may be hiding within us, choking our witness. The Apostle John wrote, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” [1 John 1:7].

I’m going to create an example. Let’s say that I meet a young woman who is in an abusive relationship. I feel that I should minister God’s grace to her because I, too, was once involved in an abusive relationship. Over the years I gained a lot of wisdom in this area that would help her, and had a good knowledge of God’s word. However, I am still carrying unforgiveness towards my ex-boyfriend. In the middle of middle of ministering to her, my emotions rise up. I start getting angry and then crying. The young woman starts crying her eyes out, and the whole session becomes a tearful hug fest. It is okay to empathize with another person’s situation, but we need to be a testimony of God’s healing grace…not be emotional train wrecks.

I’m not saying that the Holy Spirit can’t work through a broken vessel. He does all the time. But His desire is for us to be whole, in spirit, soul and body, so that His Spirit can flow freely through us.

Our souls needs to be healthy and healed so that our lives can prosper, and we can be the pure heart and hands of Jesus in the earth. The Apostle John wrote, “Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” [3 John 1:2]. Soul prosperity is the key to a happy and fulfilled life. It enables us to thrive in all circumstances, with our minds renewed to God’s Word.  The Apostle Paul said, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” [Romans 12:2]. 

God is just waiting for us to let Him into our wounded areas. Growing  up in the Lord is a process that takes a lifetime. None of us has been perfected yet, and we won’t be until we leave this earth. Our job is to remain teachable and willing to let go of those things that have kept us bound.

God’s wisdom and counsel comes from the Holy Spirit working through us, from our spirits through our souls.  If the pathway is clogged by bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, hate, anger, prejudice, lawlessness, and other soulical bondage, our message can be clouded and filtered. It can result in twisted truth or leavened bread. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. [Galatians 5:9].

God has healed me from more wounds than I can count. Some were self-inflicted. Some were the fault of others. Some were demonic. And some were just circumstances over which I had no control. Walking through these very painful times, I often felt like I was stumbling around in a fog. My eyes were cloudy, and all I could do was hang on to the hem of Jesus’ garment, crying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” [Luke 18:38].

Jesus did have mercy on me. He delivered me (and continues to deliver me) from every painful situation, healing the wounds in my soul.  “…what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord delivered me! [2 Timothy 3:11].

In 1986 I had a “God dream,” one of those dreams that you know that you know came from the Throne Room. I was in my early stages of walking with Jesus, but I had many obstacles yet to overcome. It was a prophetic dream, meaning it was not necessarily for that time in my life. Not limited by time or space, the dream still ministers to me today as much as it did thirty years ago.

“I opened a door, and there stood a man with dark hair and beard, wearing a plaid flannel shirt and jeans. He looked rather like a lumber jack, but He was Jesus, and I knew Him.

Jesus took me by the hand and walked me down some steps into an endless white marble foyer with massive columns and a magnificent marble stairway. The marble had veins of gold, giving the whole area a warm, rich tone. The whole experience was like walking into a movie and watching the characters play out their story. (Like Scrooge’s experience in A CHRISTMAS CAROL.)

Jesus held my hand, and we walked to the stairway where I saw myself laying on the landing as if I were dead. (Jesus and I stood in front of the stairway, watching all of this, as if it were a movie.) We watched as Jesus walked over, picked me up and carried me back down the hallway. While He was carrying me, I regained consciousness and looked at Him. He said to me, ‘When you feel that you cannot go on, I carry you.’ ”  This dream has never left me. It has been a source of strength for thirty years, and I it continues today.

God wants all of us healed and free so that we can walk in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted; To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; To set at liberty those who are oppressed.” We (of the older generation, in particular) are walking treasure troves of knowledge and wisdom, something that is greatly needed in this hour. Our children and grandchildren’s minds are being polluted by world systems and mindsets through their schools, social media, entertainment, and political bullying. But, we can reach them one heart at a time.

Don’t ever feel that you have nothing to give. We all have wisdom that needs to be shared with the younger generations. Both the wisdom that comes from God (through His word and the gifts of the Holy Spirit) and that wisdom which is born from a lifetime of experience.

Some of the greatest nuggets of wisdom I ever received came from my parents and grandparents. Granted, when the counsel was originally given, it usually went in one ear and out the other. But through the years their words of wisdom have come back to me. I finally “get it.”

We all have wisdom to share. If not face-to-face, then through writing. Shared on Facebook, or in a blog or a book. We may never know how important our little nuggets of wisdom could be in the life of another person. They could prevent terrible mistakes. Bad marriages. Bad career choices. Wrong circle of friends. And they could even save a person’s life.

 

 

 

Never Ever Ever Give Up….Even If It Is The Last Thing You Do On This Earth

In the brief history of my character, Millard, I have shared some of the phases of his life – from his birth as a frumpy, lovable cartoon bear to his ultimate metamorphosis into a human teenager called into the service of an unseen and forgotten King.  It has been quite a journey for both Millard and me, a journey that is still far from over. Continue reading “Never Ever Ever Give Up….Even If It Is The Last Thing You Do On This Earth”