June: a Sense of Abundance

This month proved a struggle, looking at abundance – primarily in terms of material abundance – when all I seemed to abound in was phlegm. Such Fun.

I think Julia Cameron is really on to something here: “For many of us, raised to believe that money is the real source of security, a dependence on God feels foolhardy, suicidal, even laughable.” (p.105)

Consider the wildflowers…

I was raised by two people who were most definitely dependent on God rather than money, and I still struggle with wanting to be financially secure all the time, not to risk having nothing to fall back on.

“We have tried to be sensible – as though we have any proof at all that God is sensible…”
“Snowflakes, of course are the ultimate exercise in sheer creative glee. No two alike.” (p.107)

Wilson A. Bentley snowflake, 1890

Dare we dream that God has something better for us than we have at present? Not necessarily something easier, or safer, to be sure, but better?

Now, Cameron and I do differ in places. She characterises common belief as “Hard work is good. A terrible job must be building our moral fiber.” (p.106)

And you know what? I think hard work is good. I think a terrible job can build your strength, your endurance. I think I have become a better writer by having to struggle to write. I’ve had to ask myself – how much do I want this? I’ve had to develop discipline, and you can’t tell me that’s a waste of time.

Truck pull – no rope

But that doesn’t mean that the Dreaded Day Job is all there is, in perpetuity. People don’t keep going to school once they’ve passed their last exams. Soldiers don’t stay in basic training forever.

But here’s what scares me: once you leave training is when the work really starts.

And here’s another thought: your dreams and God’s dreams for you aren’t necessarily the same dreams (although they can be). But given a clash, God’s dreams are always better. And bigger. And scarier, because we don’t think we can do it, and he knows we can (with his help), and he’s just got to keep pushing us til we reach the place where we’re prepared to try.

An acorn may be content to become a modest shrub, but God will not be content until he has made it an oak.

You can’t out-dream God.

Cameron moves on to discuss the idea of creative luxury – not wallowing in plutocratic plushiness, but allowing yourself those non-utilitarian things which feed your soul. Things that make you feel rich in life – doesn’t have to be expensive. An old LP of great music. A monthly packet of chocolate biscuits. Really nice paper to write on, instead of a ratty old exercise book. A beautiful cup and saucer, second-hand.

vb9060x-japanese-porcelain-teacup-saucer

I freely admit that I didn’t do most of the exercises this month. For some reason, this is the month with all the practical stuff in it. Go outside and find five interesting rocks. (I have bronchitis.) Find five flowers. (It’s winter. Plus I have bronchitis.) Bake something. (It’s winter in the kitchen too.)

Things that I didn’t do but still intend to once I recover: purge 5 old ratty items of clothing; send 5 postcards to friends you’d like to hear from; make some changes to the [cluttered, messy] home environment.
I can’t decide whether to go for this:

Home Library 2005

or this:

luther room

Dreaming too big? Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow.

And DDJ – your days are numbered. Even though I don’t know the number yet. God’s got dreams…

Zombie Rising

And we are not talking about those lovable Chocolate Zombies, either.

At least one of you has noticed the lack of posts of late; I am sorry to inform you that this is because I have become a zombie. However I am seeing the doctor shortly and I hope there is a cure.

Emdee by Schell

I had last week off the DDJ, and oh, the plans I had. Yes, I needed to reconstruct everything after the crisis, but it was going to be fun. I was going to have time. I could live like a writer, at least for a week! The bells pealed, the angels sang, and I wrote about a thousand words of notes on the reincarnation of my WIP.

Mass Emergencies Opening Reception - Saint Peter and His Choir of Angels with Andre Woodward's Work

And then…
You guessed it. I got sick. At the worst, I had a high fever and couldn’t even bear to read (i.e. was at death’s door, as precious little else will stop me reading).
Once all my leave was up I went back to the DDJ, thinking I was getting better. But after only a day and a half I had to go home sick again. The cough, the cold…

Cough and the Common Cold

On the plus side, this means I am not at the DDJ and can even squeeze in a little writing here and there.

On the downside, I now have less than three days of sick leave to last me til mid 2014. (Guess I’d better not get sick again. ) I also have the brain of a zombie – all greyish green gook and slow synapses.

On the plus side again, I also have a Hollow-Cheeked Writer’s Cough which is definitely giving me the appropriate garret look.

58/365 where does it hurt?

What I really need to do now (aside from see the doctor for a zombie-cure, obvs.) is start writing the new draft. Just a line. Because until that first line is down, there’s the spectre of Perfectionism hanging over me.
And that’s scarier than any zombie.

A Crisis and its Consequences

After Saturday, I didn’t think I had anywhere to go but up.

I wrote a grand total of 729 words on my WIP last week. I sat down on Saturday, gritted my teeth, and wrote. I managed 37 words before I realised what the problem was.

It wasn’t so much that I had no ideas – I had a few, and enough to be going on with. The problem was that I was bored with the story.

Learning

Because the story was boring. It had got to the point where it didn’t even seem worth the effort of writing the next word, so I stopped in the middle of a sentence and did some serious thinking.

It didn’t take long to realise where the problem lay, at its deepest root – I’d long suspected, but hoped it would go away of its own accord. (It didn’t. They never do.)
The main character was flat and boring. Yes, she was supposed to be naïve, and completely uneducated in practical matters, but she had become the literary equivalent of blancmange: pale, flavourless and trembling.

Blancmange

Well, no more! I’ve kept the bit of the naïvety, and her knowledge of the world is still largely theoretical, but she’s no fool, and she knows her own mind (particularly in the matter of taking forbidden lessons in the nature and properties of explosive materials). Think of a cross between Scarlett O’Hara and a young Queen Victoria, with a side of pyrotechnical ability.

But then, of course, everything and everyone else had to change too. I had to kill off half the characters and perform radical surgery on the rest, but the result is much stronger and much more interesting.

I was surprised by how little pain it cost to kill my darlings. I had a twinge for the invisible minstrel, but he may yet return, if he can earn his keep.

The invisible man working in the nude

Unfortunately, I’ve also had to come to terms with pretty much starting all over again: most of the 27,387 words I have written so far will have to be ditched, because they just don’t fit any more. Even the (few) good bits.

Of their adventures in the Forest of Roxburghe, this chronicler shall say but little. Tsifira wandering away from the stream and getting lost shall be barely mentioned; Riordan and Berengaria going to find her shall be touched upon but lightly; and how they subsequently were lost all together and had to wait for sunrise to get their bearings will not even be spoken of.
The fraught incident involving Berengaria and an incidental bear, which was only resolved by the quick and judicious application of half an onion, shall, however, be divulged in full. (But not in this book.)

Ooh, the irony.