Ruthy here.... When I e-mailed Sara Mitchell to tell her how delightful her Christmas novella "Mistletoe Courtship" was, I didn't know that single act would bring us to today, or that she'd open her blog post with my most favorite verse from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1.
But God knew. He always knows, and those intersections, those "vee's" in the road, the bends, the angles, the forks, the flat tires...
He knows. He cares. He loves.
And then expects us to work with the gifts he's given us. Sweet job, God! So here is Sara, a delightful gal I had the honor of meeting in Orlando at my first RWA book signing... you know... The one I was late for!
Oh my stars. Without further digression, I give ye Seekerville: Sara Mitchell, sweet woman and delightful Steeple Hill author.
“What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?” offers a modern paraphrase of the question posed by the writer of Ecclesiastes. A few verses later the Teacher adds some of the most well-known passages of the Old Testament, largely due to the secular song rendition performed by the Byrds several decades ago: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
...Which brings me to my blog musing for today—the Seasons of a Writer’s Life. For some reason autumn has always been my favorite season of the year. I love the smells, the soaking autumnal rains, the crisp cool nights and the eye-aching colors. But I also tend to grow more introspective in autumn. More...nostalgic. Have I been a faithful steward over my craft, or do the flaws and failures outweigh the joys and successes?
So I thought I’d invite everyone on a brief “seasonal sabbatical” through my own writer’s mind. Today is September 29; fall has officially arrived. My next Love Inspired Historical, A Most Unusual Match, comes out Jan. 2011, and I have the major characters of another book clamoring to come to life. I ought to be melting the computer keys. Instead, I feel more like...well, the hunkered down survivor of a winter ice storm. Winds of urgent tasks to be addressed “right now” sweep me from my office out into the storm....
Well, you get the picture.
On the other hand, winter can also be a cozy season, where plot threads germinate under the ice and God’s peace seeps into your pores like the warmth of a well-stoked fire. Those storms that break branches and fell trees also cleanse our minds of weak characterization and poor plots.
Then spring arrives. This messy season provides moist and fertile ground if your writer’s mind never stops sprouting metaphors. Are you in a spring fever of deadlines? So distracted by life you can’t keep your mind on your latest project? Or are you suffering from spring floods with so much to do that, like the winter wind, those floods sweep you into their grasp, bearing you away from the pages you meant to write that day? Of course, you might be budding with a new contract, about to burst forth with the best story you’ve ever written. Your creative mind soaks up the spring rains of possibilities, the sunshine of God’s Presence—and your agent’s expert direction!
Then there’s summer in all its sweltering glory. Slogged out revisions and re-writes, weeds of distraction, slugs of doubt that kill the root of your God-breathed gift. Parched brains shrivel because a drought of exhaustion, life, and personal/professional expectations have sucked your creative well dry. Only banal clichés survive—and no writer who loves his/her craft can survive on clichés, dried-up, lifeless plots or shallow cardboard characters who wilt under the hot exposure of a critical marketplace. Yet summer also offers fresh fruits and vegetables, roses and sunflowers, vacations and picnics. The nourishment of a great conference, the fragrant bouquet of an understanding friend, the dizzying delight of a first sale; a gorgeous cover; a new contract; the warm satisfaction of knowing you’ve persevered. You’ve written every writer’s favorite phrase: “the end.”
So...as writer or observant reader...count how many clichés I’ve used in this blog, but count as well how many expressions struck a responsive chord in your heart. Hopefully they’ll be at least one or two of the latter! See how many similes, metaphors or other useful devices you can construct in a self-examination of your own writing life. Regardless of the date on the calendar, chew over what season you’re currently living through. Perhaps the mental exercise will bring a smile to your face, or crack an ice flow in your frozen or drought-dry brain. As I have come to learn over the decades of my own life, you’ll realize writer seasons change like the weather. Time really does pass and birds do continue to sing. God gifts you with the cherished asset of patience. A stranger smiles at you, or the florist gives you a coffee mug you admire while you’re waiting for her to fill the get-well helium balloon you’re purchasing. (Yes, that just happened to me! That mug lifts my heart every time I enter the kitchen.)
Sometimes God does calm the storms in our lives; sometimes He raises us above them on wings of eagles. Sometimes He allows the storms, and calms the child who lives inside us all. And all the time, through every season, He walks beside us, holding us close whether we soar or slog.