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!

Advertisements

More Than Hours: A Short Story

He stumbled through the darkness, the light at his back forcing everything into angrier shadows that toyed with his perception. His fingers curved and clawed at nothing as if to anchor himself to where he was.

Where was he? He felt as if he’d been in a terrible accident like his body had been jettisoned, head-first through plate glass, accept there was no road nearby, no sound of distress from on-lookers who’d had the misfortune of watching him play with death.

No. He was alone, disoriented and meandering through dark woods with the brightest of light ebbing down into a dim glow around him. He stopped and gulped at air, wishing it was water. How he thirsted. His heart thrumming an erratic tattoo in his chest, he lifted his eyes upward and glanced through the canopy of the trees.

Dark foliage and branches like skeletal fingers wove above him, yielding very little ground to the setting sun above. It was dusk here. Here, not where he’d been only moments ago.

He’d stepped through time. How much time…he didn’t know. He felt his chest tense as his lungs fought to take in air. His fingers clumsily met with the cold metal of a ticking clock dangling from around his neck.

The Ministry of Time, but not the sanctioned ministry, he was of Ionic, a covenant far more complex than any the ministry had known of.

With careful fingers, he pried open the clocks face saw the numbers and the arms and knew their pointing and telling was more than that of hours. The year was 1936.

“1936,” the words were dry on his tongue. Still, a tinge of hope rolled through him like a wave against the shoreline. He wasn’t very close to his true timeline. But he was indeed closer.

You will never see that time again, Cassius. You’ve been blocked. In 77 A.D you are a dead man. Outside of time, you are worth more alive than dead.

The words of his Lanista echoed in his ears. No, in there were no Lanista’s in Ionic, still, the man had purchased him, purchased him from the grip of death and sentanced him to a fate fare worse.

Cassius would never see his life or loved ones again, but he would live through time, redeeming time for others. His current mission was in 1936.

Growling and shaking off the fuzz of confusion, he straightened himself as if in the Colosseum and focused his mind on the task at hand. He was still a gladiator, no matter the millennia. And like a gladiator, he would win his life back no matter where he stood in time.

THE END…FOR NOW

*More tidbits and side stories from Ministry of Time or, as you’ve just read, not the Ministry, but a branch called ‘Ionic.’ I’m sure more will come. I think I will gather up each of the other short tales that have come from this thread and create a page for them on my author site. In the meantime, you can sample the first few chapters of my debut novel, Nexus Gate 4037: The Animal, which introduces the Ministry of Time and thusly Ionic. NG 4037 will be out soon! These are my results for Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt March 26th, 2018.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

The Requirement of Time: Faith Filled Encouragment for Creatives

Anything good will often require a good amount of time.” ~Candice Coates

Scripture: I Samuel 17:24-40 (I encourage you to read I Samuel 17 in entirety.)

In I Samuel 17, we find the Children of Israel in the Valley of Elah, stationed there for forty days in fear. Why? Because the champion of the Philistine army, Goliath, has come to defy them. “Send me your best warrior!” He says. “If he kills me, we will be your servants, but if I kill him, you will be our servants.

Standing nine feet tall and likely weighing near a complete ton, it is understandable why the Israelites would see this giant and camp out in fear. Who could match his strength? Who could possibly bring him down?

No one has the courage to do so…except one–David, the son of Jesse.

Ironically, David was likely no more than seventeen years old and was a trained…shepherd, not a warrior. But he was a master of faith in the God if Israel and the world.

David was also a poet and inventor of new musical instruments, instruments he used to draw closer to the God of creation and grow deeper in his faith. To anyone on the outside looking in, David was the least of likely candidates to defeat the Philistine champion, but he was the only one who was capable.

Why?

David, even as the anointed king of Israel, took his time in the pastures, tending his father’s sheep, protecting them at all cost, and praising God for every victory. I’m sure there must have been moments when David thought, “The Prophet Samuel anointed me King, and here I am still in the pasture…” Where he was, did not look at all like what he was anointed and called to. But once the right amount of time had passed, things quickly changed.

Because of the time he spent in the pasture, he had developed a skill of defense, but better than that, he’d honed a skill of offense. The enemy just didn’t see him coming!

David knew how to use his sling to kill lions and bears and he knew to give God the glory for it. He walked into ever trial trusting the Lord to deliver him because he had spent a great deal of time learning how to do so.

And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock,  I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.  Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” ~I SAMUEL 17:33-37 NKJV

He’d thusly developed a discernment to know when to take action. Like with the other predators who sought to make his sheep their prey, he knew that it was time to attack Goliath. Forty days of the enemy’s taunting was long enough!

Still, David encountered resistance even though he was ready and willing to act. His eldest brother rebuked him (vs 28-30) and King Saul tried to discourage him (vs 33). Still, David heeded the tug that was in his heart by the Spirit of God!

He saw, through the eyes of faith and time spent honing skills that seemed ill-suited for the anointed king of Israel, the opportunity he had been preparing for (vs 34-37)!

Here is my encouragement to you. When others don’t see the opportunity, when others discourage you, press forward even still, especially when the Lord God Jesus Christ has prompted and prepared you.

Like David, you must:

RECOGNIZE YOUR MOMENT: David had gone to the battlefield to deliver bread and grain to his brothers, cheese to their captain, in order to deliver a report to their father (vs 17-18). But hearing and seeing Goliath, he recognized an opportunity to be used of God.

REALIZE SOME MOMENTS HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE: I believe that, just like with Queen Esther who was elevated to the Palace of Persia to deliver the Jewish people for such a time as that, that so too, was David. However, like Mordicah warned Esther, if she didn’t seize the moment, God would raise up another who would (ESTHER 4:13-16).

REMEMBER WHAT THE LORD SAYS AND HAS DONE FOR YOU AND IGNORE THE VOICES OF NEGATIVITY: The Scriptures say, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” (ROMANS 3:4) The Scriptures also ask, “Who shall believe our report. And to who has the Arm of the Lord (Reference to Yeshua Jesus) been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1)

Basically, whose opinion are you going to heed and are you going to forget how many times the Lord has come through for you, how He has proven that He is the Great I Am? Like David, you have to remind yourself of the other times the Lord has brought you to victory and keep pressing forward.

Don’t even let the negative voices be a motivating factor, but let the love of Christ, His glory, His promise, and His passion, be what drives you!

BE PATIENT AS YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR MOMENT: Even though David was, in God’s eyes, the official King of Israel from the moment he was anointed, David still was sent back to the pastures to tend the sheep and tighten up his sling-shot-game, and for good reason. Goliath was no pushover. He also remained humble enough to obey his father and deliver cheese and grain to his brothers, brothers who didn’t even recognize his calling, destiny, or anointing, even though they bore witness to it. (I SAMUEL 16 (vs13))

Sometimes the most hurtful thing is when we pursue the promises and purpose of God in our lives only to find that we have to do so without the support of those closes to us, namely our families. Sadly, this happens.

But be encouraged! You are in good company. David didn’t have family support. Joseph, the son of Jacob, was on his own, and our Savior even was mocked by his younger siblings about His anointing (JOHN 7:1-9)! All of their families eventually came around in the end though, it just took time.

Again I say, anything good will often require a good amount of time.  Be patient and be persistent. It’s going to require your courage through ups and downs and your trust in your Heavenly Father, but we know that because what is before us is good, we are assured that it is worth it. So keep pressing, keep preparing, and until that moment comes, keep waiting!

For my married brothers and sisters who may not have the support of your spouse. Take courage, trust the Lord, and walk in wisdom. If the vision that you have is from God, allow Him to work on your loved one’s heart. But you be of humble heart, like David. Continue to pray. Continue to hope. Continue to believe. And continue to pursue…in time.

~Poiema, Poetry in Motion

3 Ways to Make Creative Time in a Busy Day: The Almighty Quarter #MotivationMonday

Quarters are AMAZING! You can do so many activities with quarters. You can do laundry, you can play a game at an arcade with enough quarters. You can purchase a cheap, hot cup of liquid motivation on your way to work with quarters.

Once upon a time, you could make a phone call in a phone booth with a quarter. Packs of chewing gum used to be a quarter!

I mean I could go on and on about how great quarters are!

May favorite quarters, however, are those within a day, made up of minutes and seconds. In a single day, you have 24 hours, 48 half hours and 96 QUARTERS! 96! Now, you are probably thinking, “What is the big deal?”

Time does not play fair. It plays mind tricks. More often than not, it will rob you, trick you and leave you frustrated…if you let it.

Here it is, as creative beings, who have full-time commitments away from our crafts finding the time to cultivate our craft seems like an impossible feat. It never fails that the excuse of “I don’t have enough time.” is used.

I am guilty of that.

Time is a formidable foe indeed. Time does not play fair. It plays mind tricks. More often than not, it will rob you, trick you and leave you frustrated…if you let it.

Here are a few ways to make time for your craft during a busy work week when it seems that extra time is simply and understandably out of reach:

1. Don’t allow time to oppress you: If you, like me, have ever bought into the lie that you don’t have enough time to write, to draw, to compose, to do whatever it is that you feel a creative hunger for just remember you have 96 quarters at your disposal.

Yes, some of them are already accounted for, but when you consider taking 4 of those 96 quarters a day and dedicating them to your craft, you would be amazed at what you can achieve.

Even if you can only spare two or even one at the most, still your creative muscles will be strengthened.

You know what it is like to be hangry. The same rules apply when we are starved of creative release.

2. Use breaks between committed tasks as creative intermissions: A great way to be fresh during the work day as you go from task to task (besides taking a nap which is also a good thing) is to do some mental cleansing.

Doodling or jotting down ideas in a journal or sketchbook for a few minutes can help defrag your thoughts and get you ready for the next phase of your day.

Think of it as palate cleansing between courses.

3. Break your quarters into dimes or even nickels: Maybe you are really pressed for time, but if you allow yourself five or ten minutes to do a quick sketch or jot down your idea, you will be branding the overall concept to your memory in a way that it will be easier to revisit later.

Five minutes here, ten minutes there and the synopsis for a short story or full-length novel, or the preliminary sketch for your next drawing or painting is done.

You may be thinking that a quarter just isn’t enough, but something is always better than nothing.

Consider how a kid under the age of ten goes bananas for a dollar. College students living off of Roman Noodles feel like they’ve hit the jackpot if they find a single quarter laying around. We need to have the same attitude as they do.

Take the quarters you have, count them up, and dedicate a few of them to your craft. Even if it is just one quarter, set it aside to do what your soul is pushing you to do, and don’t spend that quarter on anything else. You will be amazed and enriched by the beauty you can achieve.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*This is a revision of an article written January 12, 2014

Time: A Quote

Time is really the only capital that any humanbeing has and the only thing he can’t afford to lose. ~ Thomas Edison

pexels-photo-100733

The Prophet Moses wrote in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” As we draw to the close of the civil year, 2016, my prayer is that each of us would take to heart what we still have left to sow during this time, and all of the blessings that are ahead. Let us make good use of the time we have, numbering each day, loving the ones around us, and creating like the world’s existence depends on it!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

And the Woman Writes: Progress with Ascension Graveyard

writer-1421099_960_720

“She sat, her fingers burning with the fire to press the keys of her keyboard, her ears greedy for the familiar tattoo that sounded off along with each word born upon her computer screen. With a vengeance, she set her pages ablaze!”

Progress, progress. As you’ve noticed, instead of the next chapter to Ascension Graveyard, I have given you this…a heartfelt report.

Writing this novel has been a great study in patience for me. Currently, things are going very well. I am carefully considering what parts of former chapters will be used in the future and which will be sent to the waste bin, while also building new threads.

As it stands, I have run out of completed chapters to share.

In the past, I would have freaked out about this. Alas, I am older now and know to give myself some grace here. Creativity is a process. Revising while building takes a different kind of focus than writing a story straight from scratch or revising what has been completed.

I hope to have some new chapters soon…I say soon because I don’t want to default on a promise for next week or even the week to follow.

Nevertheless, do stay tuned. New chapters will return as we have a blog novel to complete!

Until next time.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

 

Waiting Like Bamboo: Learning to Take Life One Step at a Time

I’ve been asked by several people I know ‘what is your plan?’ They ask because they know my dreams. They ask because they have seen my struggle, and from their vantage point and sometimes even my own, it seems like nothing fruitful is happening.

That seeming reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

I once heard Joyce Meyer talking about growth and waiting on God. She talked about how she’d learned bamboo shoots, once planted, will spend up to five years growing deep roots before actually breaking through the surface. But once they break through they can grow a foot in a matter of hours.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” ~Psalm 119:105 

That teaching was so encouraging but the reality is, nobody really wants to wait like bamboo. We want the deep roots TODAY and the foot-by-the-hour growth TODAY.

All of this makes me think about the deceiving phrase of ‘overnight success.’ Again, one sees bamboo stretching to the sky in a matter of hours and they are led to think that its always been that way.

They have no idea the long dark pressing that the roots endured digging deeper into the earth, where no one sees, where no one gives applause, just so when the day comes for their shoots to literaly shoot toward the sky, they have roots deep enough to support the seemingly sudden progress.

I know that over the years I’ve made progress. I know this because of the evidence of the dirt beneath my fingernails and the scent of soil in my hair. I know this because my mind is still set on my goals and I have the sweat stains to prove that I’ve been working, even if only me, myself, the Lord Yeshua Jesus and the dark, are the only ones who know it.

 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” ~Psalms 37:23

I can honestly say that now I feel as if my head is moving about in the upward soil now, that the heat of the sun is kissing my crown. I know that soon I will break through the surface and shoot toward what I’ve been working for all these many years.

I just don’t know when, exactly, the breaking through moment will happen. I just know it is near.

So when people ask me while ignoring the smell of the labor on my skin or the dirt on my face, what is my plan, my answer is, to simply to trust where Yeshua Jesus shines the light on the darkness and there, take the step that is set before me.

That is my plan. Take the next step toward breaking through.

~Poeima, Poetry in Motion

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

~Ecclesiastes 3:11

ice-731329_960_720

Today is the start of a new season, a new day, a new year! As with most people, many of us are stepping forward into the newness of the unknown while leaving behind so much. Maybe you lost a loved one. Maybe a relationship ended. Maybe you didn’t lose those last 5 lbs that you planned to shed at the start of 2015. The good news is it is okay. Yeshua Jesus-the God of all creation-knows your heart, and he knows the steps you take. If you trust him, no matter how frozen the world around you may seem, soon and very soon you will see and feel the warmth of the Son (sun) breaking through the ice and revealing all the goodness of life that was being cultivated beneath the snow and earth of your yesterday! Trust He has made everything beautiful in its time. He is faithful. dance into 2016 with joyful expectation! Happy New Year!!!

The “Novelty” of Organization: Tools For Creative Planning

creativity-819371_640

One of the delights of being a creative person comes with the birth of a new idea to be created. All of us are born with an innate “creative gene,” but many of us fall short in not only starting the actually manifestation process toward creation, but the completion of the creation once we’ve begun.

When it comes to writing a full length novel from start to finish, there are several things that tend to hold us back from completing our goal.

I am going to address one of the biggest and yet stealthy overlooked roadblocks, and that is lack of ORGANIZATION.

Let me add this disclaimer. I am not a person who uses conventional outlines for my stories (This isn’t even a blog posting about outlining). In fact, I am a Stream-of-consciousness writer. (Basically I have a vague and yet concise destination for the story, but I let my free-flowing imagination get me from start to finish without putting on any kinds of creative restraints. )

I do however write down ideas as they come, and place them in a separate “spice rack” document to add into the story later.

Whether you are a stream-of-consciousness writer or an writer who swears by the trusted outline, you still run the risk of falling short of your intended goal without proper organization, and let me make that more clear: TIME ORGANIZATION.

In addition to your goal for completing a full length novel (50,000 plus words…really 70,000 to 90,000 for an adult fiction novel) you have to set long term goals that keep you focused, while at the same time keeping you from getting overwhelmed.

I mean if you only have 5 pages written why are you even concerning yourself with the cover of your novel or even the final title. First things first. Put up fences and stay in your lane.

I have written and completed several manuscripts over the years and yet none of them have seen the light of publication because they have yet to be properly polished. (One was polished and even queried…just nearly published but I am glad it wasn’t…it could use a bit more tweaking.)

Why? Because I have not organized my goals to do so and without restraints we run wild…or run nowhere. As the book of Proverbs says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…”

I would like to help you all create a “vision plan” for your goals even as I strive to achieve mine.

Here is a template I’ve created to map out and achieve my novel goals:

Novel Progress Planner.jpg AGI have given myself 9 months (Novels are like babies to me, they require time and care to grow and develop) to take Ascension Graveyard from the creative mess it is today, to a polished piece prepped to be self-published at the start or close of 9 months from now.

The template is pretty self-explanatory, writing down and expanding goals from 2 weeks clear up until 9 months, while also having simple yet pointed daily goals. As the length of time grows from 2 weeks into 3 months, you notice that my tasks have gotten more detailed.

Below is a blank document that you are free to copy and use if you’d like. The basic idea for this organization came from a book on business planning, but the ideology holds true even for writers.

You will have to tweak your goals for the stage of writing you are currently in. If you are just starting a novel it is best to give yourself at least 3 months to write from start to finish.

A full length novel is 50,000 words at the least to 90,000 plus depending on genre. Science Fiction is safe at 125,000 words.

If you dedicate yourself to write 1,500 words a day for 90 days, you will have 135,000 words. This is doable for even the most tight schedules.

Novel Progress PlannerShould you choose to give this template a try, let me know how it works or doesn’t work for you. Consider even creating an organized plan for yourself with a template all your own, just make sure to organize your time and organize your vision in order to bring it to manifestation.

“Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. Conquer!”

Cheers!