Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Little Game of Tag

A journal from my mom. So true.
A few weeks ago, my dear friend and fellow writer, Laura Smith, asked me to be a part of a game of tag—a writerly game of tag. (But wait!! It’ll be fun! Really!*)

Laura has authored six books (and counting!) that deal with real teen issues: divorce, date rape, eating disorders, death. She could write about anything, really--fiction with a deeply carved niche, a genre with a popular following--but instead she chooses this genre of Christian-rooted, college-age fiction that, much like the girls she writes about, struggles to find its place. Why? Because she knows that this is what she is called to write. And so she writes, regardless of what rejection letters or royalty reports say. It's just one of the many reasons I admire her so much. She lives the words of James 2:1 (a verse she shared with me when I needed it most): "My dear friends, don't let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith" (MSG). But maybe this post, from Laura herself, says it best. 

Laura was “it” last week, and she talked about what writers do in the summertime. (The secret’s out: we play!) And then she tagged me. So, here's my backyard, summertime sprint through some questions, before I tag a few other authors whom you'll definitely want to hear from.

Onyamark! Get set! GO!

What are you working on now?
Breathing. (Seriously.) This has been a whirlwind year--and we're only halfway through! I’ve finished writing and co-writing four books (Frederick, Fireproof Your Life for Teens, another teen book, and a Bible storybook), wrapped up four big editing projects, saw Frederick through to printing, wrote oodles of DVD copy, started a little writing and brainstorming with my amazing church, and lots of other odds and ends. 

And, now--ahh--I'm breathing. I'm soaking up some summer fun with my boys and letting my brain refuel for the scariest and funnest part of this job: dreaming up new ideas. I'm currently dipping into my ideas folder, pulling out my favorites that have been oh-so-patiently waiting, and shaping them into full-fledged proposals for my oh-so-patient agent to pitch. So, pray for me. Pray that I spend my time on what matters, in a way that would bring James 2:1 to life.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?
Ha! It's probably the simple fact that I don't stick to a genre! I've written everything from simple rhymes for toddlers to heartrending adult nonfiction from the other side of the world. I've been told that a "successful" author would stick to her genre, but I didn't listen. (See James 2:1. :) Which brings me to the next question . . . 

Why do you write what you do?
I write what I do because I'm moved to, inspired to, nagged to until I can no longer ignore the beautiful nagging. I write because I want everyone from toddlers to teens to adults to know the overwhelming love of God and the hope that it brings. I want every single person on the planet to see the beauty right here among us. I want to love on this big world. And I've found that, for me, right now, putting words on paper is the best way to do that.

How does your writing process work?
Process? There's a process?!

Sometimes I get an idea (more accurately, an idea is given to me), then there's a lot of watching the trees sway and listening to the birds chippering and feeling the wind as it moves across the water. And then, seemingly from out of nowhere, words form into sentences or lines, and a book is born.

But sometimes, as with my most recent project, Frederick, there's an overwhelmingly inspiring idea, research, one crazy meeting, research, a trip across the world, hearts broken and healed, hours and hours of international calls, research, countless emails, photos, and an infinity of BIC (butt-in-chair). And somehow, in the end, when everything seems crazy and chaotic and impossible, all of the leaves of paper float gently down into place, and--just like that--it is finished. (Well, okay, the writing part is finished. Now, on to the publicity!) 

The elusive writing process is different every. single. time. But every single time, it requires work. It requires practice. It requires learning something new and refueling the creative tank. It requires messing up and getting your feelings hurt. But you can never, ever allow your soul to grow timid or your skin to grow tough. Because when you do, you lose the very thing that makes you a writer: the bravery it takes to see and feel the world as it really is.

Next stop on the World Blog Book Tour?

The bad news: This is the last question. The good news? I'm just the opening act! 

Next week, these three writers will give you their take on the writing world: 

  • Alice Sullivan: A hilariously snarky writer friend and editor with a knack for notorious first (and last!) dates. Trust me. Get to know her. (And set her up with your friend, if only for the entertaining story that will result.) Catch her post here next week.

Did I answer your question? What else do you want to know? 

Tag, you're it!

              *Okay, maybe not as fun as running around barefoot in the backyard, but still fun. ;)