The Fear of Matches


Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Psalm 46:2-3, NIV

At home we have an electric stove. We used to have a gas stove–I remember touching it by accident when I was a kid. The result was minor, but enough for me to remember, caution!

That was a long time ago. By the time I started doing things in the kitchen myself, we’d switched to an electric. I never had to use a gas stove; the thought of turning one on in Lima has scared me since we arrived, so for the longest time, I didn’t.

I avoided it. I stuck to cold foods when I got hungry–until today.

Something–Someone–told me to go do it.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9, NIV

Fun fact: I’m scared of matches. I light one and my hand starts trembling till I’m sure I’ll drop it. My decision to use the gas stove may seem small, but today I left my comfort zone.

It wasn’t without precautions. I made sure my brother was in the kitchen, thinking his presence would lessen the risk of myself catching fire. He figured out where to turn the knob when I had been doing it wrong.

I didn’t have to do this. I could have found something to eat that didn’t require use of a stove. But Something, a different fire, burned inside my heart, encouraging me. I knew that I could do it. If I didn’t, I would be disappointed in myself.

I decided to fry some eggs on the gas stove, matches and all. The fear was real. Small things can be your biggest chains. You won’t notice they’re a problem until a moment comes and you think, I have to do this.

Why? asks fear.

Because you can, says that little Voice your heart.

Face your fear, whatever it is. You could be scared of matches. You could be scared of wind. You could be scared of darkness or sleep. Don’t be ashamed: your fears may seem small to the outside world, but when you face them, you grow. And you can face them, with Him!

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7, NIV

It took eight matches and a good deal of panic before I got the stove going. If you’re accustomed to gas stoves, you might be laughing. I’m not: my hands were trembling. It was hard.

With His prompting I said, I am going to do this today. I made fried eggs and forgot to add salt, but they were still the most delicious I’d ever eaten. I was scared of matches, but I persevered. I pray the Lord will show me my next fear; with His help I’ll strike a match and burn it to the ground.

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Being a Traveling Pantser


DSCN9349.JPGI will always be a pantser, no matter where in the world I’m writing.

I had a loose outline for the third book of my series. I even made index cards by taking a notebook and cutting its pages into rectangles – I guess it’s easier for me to use index cards that aren’t real and not be afraid I’m wasting money?

Anyway, it’s a good thing I didn’t spend money on index cards, because the outline I made on these makeshift cards turned out to be a waste. I’m 20k into the first draft, and it’s nothing like I’d planned. At least for the Fallen Faery Tales, I will always be a pantser.

The story is coming along so easily! Words are spilling onto the page (or into the document) and I’m resisting the urge to edit, meaning I make faster progress. I think it’s the different location that keeps my Muse busy, making her feel generous.

dscn9350I’ve been trying to start a bullet journal, and though it isn’t pretty (certainly not Pinterest worthy!) my favorite feature is a writing goal tracker. At the end of the day, I fill in a box with the daily word count goal. I keep the goal small, just 2k a day, and have been able to fill in all of the little boxes since January 1. I hope to finish a new draft by the end of January, and if it winds up longer than the first two books, I’ll still be filling in little boxes come February.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading (The Count of Monte Cristo is quite a feat!) or enjoying the Peruvian summer (if it’s not too hot to enjoy.) We’ve gone to the beach and seen different parts of the city. All this helps with my projects.

Travel is a great for any artist. If you can get somewhere new, just for a little while, do it. Your story will thank you, your Muse will love you, and even if you don’t write during the vacation, there’ll be plenty of material to work with at home!

“my blood is a mix of coffee & tea”


coffee1circle

Recently I spoke to a friend about writing, specifically poetry. A couple of verses I wrote came to mind, verses I feel define me:

my blood is a mix of coffee & tea
and words from authors long dead

I wondered, how much of me is made of the words of authors long dead? Where do their voices end so mine can begin?

The question hit me because I’ve been trying my hand at poetry. Perhaps this is a case of Poet’s Block (a new phenomena to me) but when I try tapping into my deepest emotions–I rarely find words.

It’s easier for me to write poems about quarrels with my muse. I’m a creative being, but I don’t have secrets to spin poetry from–it’s all about writing, arguing with the elusive muse. I wonder if somehow I’ve set myself aside.

tearound

How do I absorb every book I read without canceling myself out? I’d already set this year aside as one for self-reflection; I know a writer is a thousand people in one, but it feels like I’ve made my own voice less audible.

It’s why I’ve gone back to keeping a journal. The root of the problem might be that I hadn’t kept a journal for the entirety of 2015. Journals help us keep in touch with our inner selves.

I know there’s a person in me aside from the books I write, because I encounter her in my old journals.

A writer might be a thousand people in one, but there’s still the soul who types the story. Things we read and experience shape a unique voice. In a bizarre way, I’m eager to find out what I have to say.

How can we use our unique voices if we don’t know what they sound like? There’s no problem living by truths taught in books–that’s what they’re for, and one of the reasons they’re beautiful!–but. As people, we are unique and have new truths to tell.

Keep a journal–you’ll learn so much about yourself, and years later will be glad you made the effort!

coffee2round

#wordstorm: looking at flowers


flower3

At the grocery store yesterday, I photographed many flower arrangements. It’s not spring yet, but flowers remind me of what’s to come! Time flies, and soon it will be warm. There’ll be more flowers, ladybugs, even bees (which I hate.) I’ll be able to wear shorter sleeves.

There’ll be a smell of new in the air.

A year ago today, Dissonance hadn’t yet been published. I was in the process of completing edits and honestly, I might not have published it had people not encouraged me. To put your book out for others to read and go from writer to author–that’s scary.

Sometimes I still can’t believe I went through with it, that people have read and enjoyed it.

That smell of new in the air could be new stories (I’m working on them,) new dreams, new friends. Springtime is exciting; there’s always a surprise! I look forward to sitting outside with my laptop and finishing Serenade so you can read it.

flower1

Winter isn’t bad, either. Those moments I spent huddled in bed with frozen toes were useful for meditation and plotting. I realized how much I’ve achieved since the book release, things I hadn’t dreamed of when Dissonance started out as a mermaid story.

I thought about new friends I’ve met, marveling that some have Dissonance on their shelves!

There’s beauty in the new and the old–the problem is finding balance, learning to anticipate the future without losing sight of the past. There are lessons to be learned and memories to be kept, even as we hold our breath for May.

I’ve never been good at living for the present (that’s something I’m working on.) However, I do feel that when I published Dissonance, I embarked on the path always meant for me. I started my career as an author, and things will only get better with time!

This year, I will get another potted plant and put it on my window. I’ll embrace the blessings I’ve been given since embarking on my path as an author. I thank every person who might take the time to read those 200 pages I worked so hard on.

Your time means so much to me.

flower2

New things emerge in the spring–friends, ideas, stories. I can’t wait to see what I’ll dream up in 2016–it’s a matter of controlling my procrastination. That way I can instead embark on more #wordstorms.

Those can lead anywhere, even to a new story more people will enjoy.

These flowers are for you, I hope you find them as beautiful as I did.