Hi, I’m Roxanne Sherwood and I’m honored to be a guest today. Though I’ve won and judged contests, I’m still waiting for The Call.
This Ain’t Paradise.
On the cross, Jesus promised one thief that he’d rest in paradise that day. As much as our hearts long for that heavenly reward, we don’t live in paradise here on earth. Even if God has blessed you with a tropical location, your life has stress.
You may be staring at a blank page, or characters who’ve hijacked the story, or a plot that’s unraveled. You may be struggling with a difficult job, a wayward teen, a special-needs child, an off-track marriage. Or worse. You may feel that you’ve received more than your share of trouble.
Sometimes, living is so painful that it’s a struggle to string words into sentences, scenes into stories. It takes emotional energy to write, and stress and grief drain energy from your well of emotions. Writing may be difficult, nearly impossible.
Believe me, I understand.
Last year, on my twin daughters’ 17th birthday, my husband, Jack, had a heart attack. He was only 45 and seemed in perfect health, but he didn’t survive. I was left alone to raise seven children, ages 1-20.
For weeks afterward, each time I’d fall into a fitful sleep, I’d wake up gasping from pain as I remembered (as if for the first time) what had happened. Writing was impossible.
A Simmering Pot.
My friend, Beth, put her writing career on the back burner when her children were young, but she wishes she hadn’t turned the burner off. Instead, she should’ve kept it simmering.
I have a rusty journalism degree—one I’d also put on the back burner to raise my kids. It’s hard to say how long I’ve been writing because of the interruptions, but I’ve been passionate about writing fiction for five years.
During that time, I’ve home schooled six children, relocated across country, had two pregnancies in my forties—one stillbirth, one healthy baby—graduated four teens from high school, and done all the other things that moms do. Now, I’m doing them without Jack.
Every time that I’ve put my writing aside and turned off the burner, I’ve struggled to start cooking again. I’ve had to re-learn my characters’ lessons or discover where I left them hanging. I’ve lost so much ground.
Pearls. Butterflies. Adversity.
God uses a grain of sand within an oyster to produce a pearl. Just think what God—who loves you infinitely more than He cares for an oyster—can create through the adversity in your life.
If a butterfly is helped from the cocoon, rather than emerging by itself, its wings won’t develop the necessary strength to fly. God uses adversity to strengthen us.
Frankly, I’d prefer a life without adversity—at least, without losing my husband. But we aren’t given choices. We can only go on learning the lessons that God gives us.
I don’t know what you’re facing today, but we need to learn to write through adversity if we’re going to be successful in this business.
Writing Through Adversity.
1. Take care of yourself. During safety presentation on airplanes, adults are warned to secure their oxygen masks before taking care of their children. Generally, we’re so busy taking care of others that we neglect ourselves. Take time to heal and become whole again.
2. If you can’t write, then read that craft book that everyone’s raving about. Meet with other writers online or in person to keep a writing connection. Critique someone’s work and it will strengthen your writing.
3. Make realistic goals. If you can’t write a chapter, try to write 100 words. Or develop a new character’s goals, motivations, and conflicts. Or figure out your next plot point.
4. If you’re published, communicate with your editor and agent about your situation. Don’t wait until you’ve missed a deadline.
5. One day, you’ve got to decide if you’re still a writer. Then, you’ve got to get into the chair and write. Muse or not.
6. Look for joy in unexpected places. A fresh outlook restores energy.
Though I count my blessings, I’m not crazy about this life as a widow. The future I’d pictured and longed for was buried along with my husband. It’s hard to live without hope or her twin sister, joy. Yes, I cling to God’s promised hope of heaven. I know I’ll see Jack again one day, but I won’t be married to him, which is what I want.
Last night, I snuggled with my sleepy two-year-old in a plush chair as we watched a video. My lips brushed my son’s soft hair, smelling deliciously of baby soap. I savored the moment. My life isn’t what I’d dreamed it would be, but there is joy, if I’ll open my eyes to discover it.
Maybe, my writing will reflect that.
Let’s hear how you’ve written through adversity.