Taking the Scenic Route: Moments of Creative Clarity

“…The race is not given to the swift…” ~Ecclesiastes 9:11

I am, by nature, a person who is all about using every second of every day to my advantage, constantly working out in my mind how to squeeze as much into a moment of productivity as I possibly can.

I like to map things out in order to ensure that I have taken the shortest route but achieved the greatest return. I especially held this way of thinking in the world of my fiction writing.

So when I set out for the third time in my writing career to complete the writing of a novel in thirty days, the first thought, besides what I would write about, was in how many words would I need to produce in a day.

If you do not know, what makes a novel an official novel is the word count. This is the same with Novellas, Short Stories, etcetera. To have a novel, your manuscript must be made up of 50,000 words or more.

Trusting God often means taking the scenic route.

When I sat down on June 1st, 2014, I felt my nerves pinching away at me, screaming for me to make 3,000 words. Why? So that by the end of June I would not only have achieved novel status, but I would be finished the story I was working on in totality.

It sounded like a good plan, great plan if I am honest. But what I have realized is that rushing and counting does not for a strong storyline make. Actually, by focusing more on the word count goal and not the actual creative process, I felt my lines of creativity constricting under the unnecessary pressure I was applying.

Being a person redeemed by the blood of Christ, I often pray, and turn my movements over to Him and rest in His favor as a result. So from the beginning of that writing process, I could hear His voice saying, “Don’t force it. The story will come to you.”

My writing of  Ascension Graveyard (my still current WIP) ended up revealing to me that TRUST is a VERY large part of the creative process, and trusting God often means taking the scenic route.

My rushing was hindering me from allowing this story to truly tell itself. Cutting corners and cramming in masses of words for word’s sake was only making a mess. My rushing toward the goal was getting me nowhere fast.

Since then,  I have slowed down.  Ascension Graveyard has truly taken me on a scenic route, so much so that it is doing more brewing in my imagination than pouring through my fingers onto a keyboard.

I do not have the “desired” word count (yet) but what I do have is a solid plot that I am proud of. I can finally see the characters, get to know them and empathize with them in a way rushing would not have allowed.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because this is what the Creative process is all about. It’s not punching a clock, not compiling data, not reaching a status just so you can say you have one. Rather it is about basking in the picturesque natural beauty of what comes from within when you take your time and create something from your heart.

I have learned that this is indeed true. My art, my writing, is indeed witness to this and I have the Lord Jesus Christ to thank for that.

*Revised from June 2014

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

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Take your Time. I clearly have the rest of my life: Ascension Graveyard Update

Let me start out by saying a few VERY important things:

  1. I LOVE writing, and I LOVE writing this book (Ascension Graveyard)
  2. I am grateful for every person who has been reading along with my story as this 30 day venture has spread into 6+ months
  3. I am EXTREMELY grateful for feedback because, hello, that helps to polish a story with potential.
  4. I am not about to complain…not really.

Now that that is behind us, I have to say that Ascension Graveyard has in many ways irked my bones and grated my nerves. Why? Because it just won’t stop talking!

These images include the photo, "Craney Island (080213-A-5177B-008)," available under the Creative Commons Attributions License 4.0, ©  U.S Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District. The original work has been modified and in no way reflects the views or any endorsement of they original owner.
These images include the photo, “Craney Island (080213-A-5177B-008),” available under the Creative Commons Attributions License 4.0, © U.S Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District. The original work has been modified and in no way reflects the views or any endorsement of they original owner.

What do I mean? Well we are now in Chapter 29 and I have noticed a few things. For starters there is a lot more conflict that is rearing its head(s). (Check out this blog about that touching on what I call the Hydra Effect by clicking HERE.)

I have also noticed that Etta has finally shown me her face. It is as if she has been telling her story from behind a woolen veil, but she has mostly told me things that aren’t really as important as the stuff that is coming out now, only to come back around and say, “Hey, did I mention in Chapter 4 all this really important stuff went down?” (Curious to know the closest face that I see to Etta, Jorn and Mr. Albert, click HERE.)

Yeah, no, and thanks Etta for being long winded. This story is definitely going to be longer than what I had imagined. There goes my dream of writing a nice, short weekend read.

I suppose my irritation is coming from the fact that I feel like there is a lot of buffering that is taking place in the writing of this story. Its not writers block. Everything is inside my head but it is…buffering. Better put, its all in a crock-pot from the 70’s and needs a bit more time to heat up and come out.

Have I ever mentioned that I have this dream of writing novels that are 90,000 words or less? Well I do. But with each novel that I write (I have finished 4, all need revision and editing, but I digress) I well exceed that tome, which generally means my desire for instant gratification in a one volume story ends up being a series or a saga. (So let me edit that by saying I have completed 4 novels in 3 different series.)

I would like to believe that none of my written words are “extra,” but I am certain Etta could have left some stuff out in lieu of diving into the juicer part of things. I suppose I won’t really know until I am finished with this story.

Once I write “THE END,” which I would like to do before the end of the next two months, I know I will have to pull the drawstring on this story, tighten it up, I just don’t know if I will be able to do so within 90,000 words, and at this point I don’t think it really matters as long as the story ends up as strong as I know it can be.

As for right now, I just have to wait for the Divas to decide they are done stewing at each stage, and type out what they say and back track as I go along. Oh the joys of first drafts. Those of you who have just finished NaNoWriMo know what I mean, as this story began in June 2014 as a 30day writing venture. file4591271425904Take your time, Ascension Graveyard. I clearly have the rest of my life.

But for all you AG readers out there, the story is progressing. There are some power struggles that are about to get crazy, and more tension and action which I tend to enjoy. I really love action but I also recognize a book or movie can’t be all about the car chase, although that might be an interesting thing to try.

If you have been reading AG as I have been writing, please leave feedback, give constructive criticism. Tell me what your thoughts are as a reader. The floor is yours, feel free to take it, and look for Chapter 29 which should be all ready and posted before the close of this week.

Cheers!