The Space Between

I sent out an email yesterday soliciting some friends to be beta readers, so to speak, for my almost complete first novel. Only one other person has read it, and that was a previous draft. I have been nervously checking my messages, waiting for their responses.

As an artist, I exist in between the place of wanting to create something to be experienced by others and wanting to hide my soul-baring creations in the depths of my notebooks and hard drives, never to be discovered, or at least not while I live. Every artist of every medium I have ever known has a love/hate relationship with the platform. We know that exposure means criticism of something deeply attached to our hearts. But, art must have an audience.

This much anxiety, and I am only releasing the book to a few trusted friends! What will happen when I actually attempt publishing it to (gasp!) the PUBLIC?!

And so, dear Reader, dear Void, brace yourself: I am about to bare my soul. Prepare for lots of plugs for my title-not-confirmed book, hitting digital shelves near you sometime this spring. Prepare for wobbly insecure self-promotions. Prepare to witness the misadventures of an amateur, part-time independent writer. Consider yourself warned.

And hug an artist today. We need it.

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Everything You Ever Wanted

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4

I decided my sophomore year in college to change my major from Sociology to English. Admittedly, I wanted to study sociology because Zora Neale Hurston did, and she wrote characters that walked off the page and into your mind, flipping through the filing cabinets of memory and reading aloud long-forgotten accounts. I wanted to observe people, to study people from a safe distance. I did not know how much science was involved, and my research papers were cleverly written, but complete scientific bunk.

What else does one do with an English major, though, except teach? I had daydreams of scenes from Dead Poets’ Society, sitting on the big desk and philosophizing about Hamlet and Frost, molding young people, inspiring, high-five-ing in the halls. Steady, respectable, interesting employment.

God has the habit (perhaps, His character) of giving us exactly what we want, and what we need, but in completely different packaging.

After five years of teaching seventh grade English (no philosophizing or even inspiring, although lots of high-fives), I felt an undeniable urging from the Lord to leave my job and raise my child, later children, at home. It was the hardest decision I have ever made. I left the thing which had made up so much of my identity for so long in exchange for full-time occupation in something that I was never truly pursuant of or prepared.

I took that in which I knew I was successful and left it on the altar. I grieved for it and looked back many times, quite frankly. I took up the position for which I was ill-equipped because God said.

The last three years have been a trial by fire, one of learning and correcting, the practice of grace.

My son is four and will begin Kindergarten next fall. I have been counting down the days, making plans for focusing on one child again, and eventually returning to some type of work. But through a series of events and realizations too lengthy to detail here, I am beginning to see that home school for the first few years may be our best option.

I am not a home-schooler. I was not even an elementary teacher. I was never a mommy-ing woman, even as a mother. I believe in public education.

Yet here I sit, flipped on my rear again, asking God why and how and “Seriously?”

In these three years I’ve also published one book, nearly finished another, and I whip out an occasional haiku for kicks. And I remember Zora Neale Hurston and that I wanted to observe people and write. I want to write transporting truth and beauty and something so familiar it makes you check your rear-view mirrors.

I have realized that my desire to work is not about my identity; it is about a deeply buried notion that my ability to add economic value is what makes me valuable.

God asked me one time in a desperate place if I would be willing to give up the vain accessories that decked my heart’s desire. Would I lay down the visible extras to do the thing for which I prayed? And as I answered, and the external vanities were cut away, I felt peace and direction which had been clouded.

God is allowing me to have the opportunity to pursue the occupations I always wanted while doing what is best for my family, even if I never earn an income or notoriety as a writer. My faith must rise to the uncertainty of finances and to the strength to face the tasks given. I must trust my fragile soul in the hands of my Creator, who gives me the true desires of my heart.

 

Book available now – Sparrow: Devotions in Prose and Verse

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/amycford

30 Days to 30, Day 10

Day 10 – I Will Finish this Novel

Some of you know I have been working on a novel on and off since around the time I graduated college.  I do not write fiction, generally.  I don’t even read modern fiction.  When I want to get lost in a story, that story had better be set, if not written, at least a hundred years ago.  Anyway, I had an idea for something of a story, but with no clue how it would truly progress or end.  I wrote five or six chapters and abandoned it for years to pursue other things (like, real life).  However, about a year ago, the rest of the plot landed in my brain like a gift (or a swift kick in the pants) from God. 

Since I am a stay-at-home mom with a part-time job and a pretty hectic life, getting actual words on paper has been painstaking.  I usually only manage to write a few days a week, usually interrupted by something or someone else, and only for an hour or two at a time.  Flash-forward to this challenge and the realization that it is NaNoWriMo (that’s National Novel Writer’s Month for all you outsiders), and I have the urgency to get a manuscript done. 

Tonight, so far, I finished the second-to-last chapter, which, predictably, is the climax chapter.  Now, all that’s left is a chapter of lovely tie-the-ends resolution and back-tracking to write a prologue.  So, this might actually happen!  So, prayers appreciated.  No, I don’t have a clue what I am going to do with it once I’m done, but if any of you out there in blog-reading land want to be a beta-reader, or have a connection with a publisher, let a girl know.

Blocked

I haven’t written much of anything in awhile. I’m feeling kind of dry, kind of empty. I’m grabbing at the frayed ends of whatever thoughts are in my head, but they are pull apart. I just haven’t been stirred, and sometimes I wonder why God would put things in my spirit to pursue, but then leave me hanging and incomplete. I know I probably need to learn a lesson first. I just wish I knew what, and when, and how. I’m getting tired of waiting, chasing, following shadows down paths that lead nowhere. I’m sick of being consumed by day-to-day – that’s not who I am. In the perfect world, where I can make a living as a writer and don’t have such demanding other, well, stuff, I will sit every day and write something – anything. Until then I have to fight for it. I have to fight for the passions I know are there. I have work out my inspiration with fear and trembling (that sounds familiar). I have to beat the urges of work and working out, of laundry and a thousand ministry phone calls. I have to battle them one-by-one, knocking them down until the room is still and the keys are at my fingers and then… then I have to listen. Let me listen to you, my muse.