"For skillful and godly Wisdom is better than rubies or pearls,
and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared with it." Proverbs 8:11 Amplified

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What Will it Take...

This weekend my daughter Coleen completed the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run.

Coleen Voeks crossing the finish line and receiving her finisher's medal.

This race began at 5am on Saturday and the runners must have completed it in under thirty hours. This involves running up and down mountains, through snow and heat, through the day and night. This is not her first 100 miler but an important one to her. Her father completed this race in 1984. Coleen finished in 28 hours and 46 minutes.

Coleen, 11 years-old, at Western States with her dad when he had completed the race in 1984.

As I thought about her accomplishment I began to think about the goals she had to set, the preparation and discipline it took to complete this race. The principles can apply to any goal.

Coleen’s accomplishment inspired me to set goals to finish my first novel, (sadly I have three particial novels), and have the finished novel ready to present to agents and publishers at the ACFW conference in 2013.

Getting a novel written and ready to be seen by agents, and publishers, is not a sprint but a long distance endurance run so, I think, I hope, I have set a reasonable goal. That gives me twenty-six months. I have begun my calendar of check-points to reaching my goal. Those who have finished a novel and presented it to agents please let me know if I need to allow myself more time.

Who am I going to surround myself with to help me reach this lofty place? Other writer’s of course. My daughter has her group of running friends; some went with her to California and paced her through the last part of the race. That is the kind of friends I need. Those who won’t let me quit and won’t let me put in any performance but my best.

I’ve been involved in a wonderful writer's group for three years and have attended two excellent writer’s conferences; my bookshelves are loaded with books on the craft of writing. I have the tools, now I need to apply them as I let my fingers fly across my keyboard. I hope there will be more "fingers flying" than "head banging."

Along this road to my dream, another goal I have set is to lose weight and get physically strong. I turn sixty-five on Thursday and I don’t want to look, or act, like a person of age. I am young at heart and my body needs to be able to keep up with where I want to take it.

It is time that I seriously begin the journey God has called me to, it is one I will be on for the rest of my life.

This is the prize Coleen received for finishing her race. A large belt buckle.

My Prize? A published novel.

What goal have you been pushing back, thinking, I’ll start tomorrow? The clock is ticking. What hints can you give to others for accomplishing the thing that won't let go of them?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stop the Pain

Pain...sometimes it creeps up on you and you have to decide what to do with it.

I’m not talking about bodily aches but the knife in your heart and twist it pain.

The, take your breath away, pain. What do you do with it?

You allow it to stay and you hold it up to the light and study it, turning it this way and that, checking out every angle and facet. The pain deepens.

Or...you accept that it is there but decide not to allow it to linger.

You offer it to God as a sweet smelling sacrifice, knowing He loves you and will never leave you and that He has carried your sorrows.

I choose to do the latter. I know the pain will return but each time I hope to send it away quicker.

So I take a deep breath, even though it is a painful breath, and REJOICE in my God.

I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 Message

Friday, June 10, 2011

Used Books and Writing Prompts

The library is my friend. Not only do I check out books from their vast shelves but I also check out the shelves with books to purchase. Our local Friends of the Library has a continuously changing array of donated books for sale and they are cheap. I appreciate cheap when on a limited budget.

This week I purchased several books, the title of one of the books is: Writing Short Stories for Young People.

I pick up any books I find on the subject of writing, I'm building my personal writing reference library. I was also lucky enough to find a copy of Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, which made me very happy.

When I opened the book on writing short stories I found a card in the front of the book. It was a birthday card with a hand written note to Polly. I chuckled; my mom’s nickname is Polly.

I think God has a wonderful sense of humor. He knew I would be picking up this book and that I would appreciate a card addressed to Polly.

Have you found notes, shopping lists, sales slips or the like in books? I image we all have. Have you ever wondered about the story behind those little treasures?

What tales we writers could weave about those snippets from someone’s life.

Instead of throwing out these random pieces of paper, what about creating a file folder labeled story ideas. Who knows what could develop.

When you are being interviewed about your published book and they ask, “How did you come up with the idea for this story?” You can smile and answer, “I got the idea from a sales slip.” Watch for the puzzled look on your interviewee's  face.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

View From the Treetop

The slats of wood nailed to the trunk shifted as I grabbed one over my head. As I grasped the bit of wood above me I lifted one foot onto the lower slat. I kept reaching and stepping until I touched the platform nestled into the crook of thick branches in the middle of the huge shade tree. When I pulled myself to the place I was seeking I sank with a sigh to the rough floor beneath me. My place, my hideaway. Peering through the leaves I could see the houses across the street, I wondered if they could see me through the leafy shade.

Do kids still build tree-houses?

It was a wonderful way to wile-away a lazy summer.

Building a tree-house wasn’t something accomplished in a day.

You first had to find the right tree and get permission to build in it.

Then there was time scrounging in the garage for wood that could be used.

It might involve a trip to the grocery store for discarded orange crates. Those had to be dismantled so the wood could be used for a new purpose.

Begging dad for permission to use his tools with the promise that they would be returned or suffer the consequences of the rest of the summer locked in your room.

Securing the steps was key to getting up into the tree. Then tying a rope to the tree so that you could haul up the lumber needed for the platform. This is definitely where a friend came in handy.

Somehow we were able to get the wood stable and secured. We didn’t have carpentry skills or an adult supervising us, just the desire to make this dream come true. Friends working together can accomplish almost anything.

There were several styles of tree-houses to choose from. You could go with the very simple platform or you could add sides, have a door opening and widow openings and a roof. The latter style took a lot more lumber than we usually had.

The tree-house was a wonderful meeting place for friends, “I’ll meet you at the tree-house,” was spoken over telephone wires or shouted across hedges.

Games were played, books read, secrets told, lasting friendships made in that place amongst the leafy canopy.

As an adult I miss the laid back, free from a schedule, time of childhood summers.

How about you? What summer memories do you miss?