I’m so tickled to be back at Seekerville!! Oh my, what a wonderful group of ladies, and a definite ‘full circle’ moment for me. Mary Connealy introduced me to the lovely Seekers in 2008 – and it was a meeting that changed my world.
If you’ve ever been in a van full of kids for a long trip you know the inevitable chain of questions that happen about an hour, two hours, two hours and fifteen minutes, 3 hours, etc into your trip. “When will we get there?”, “How much longer?”, “Are we there yet?”
No matter how many activities I plan, interesting stops I make along the way, or well-placed snacks to distract, inevitably the question is always asked …. More than once. As a parent, I know the trek, which roads to take, which to avoid, when to make a detour, when the breaks need to happen and when I can push forward an extra hour – but my kids don’t know that. They wait, somewhat impatiently and with lots of questions, eager to arrive at the destination.
|Pepper's junior storytellers.|
Boy, oh boy, does that sound familiar. I started on this writing road trip by attending my first writer’s conference in 2004. After the first day I realized how very little I knew about writing, even though I’d been writing since I was a little girl. So over the next few years I studied craft, took a few classes, and had a critique. I didn’t have visions of grandeur or anything. My life was much too full with other paths like a job, children, and a husband in full-time ministry. All those things are good and right, but it made my journey much slower.
But … I just kept writing.
And prayed God would give me the wisdom and strength to create beautiful stories to touch ‘waiting’ hearts with His truth.
Discouragement almost ran me off the road many times. Detours left me disillusioned and impatient. The ever-present questions “How much longer?” kept going off like a siren in my head, but I just kept writing, praying, and hoping. (Sometimes complaining and often doubting).
I was beginning to understand how the Israelites felt when they were wandering in the wilderness for forty years.
During the long wait, there were times I had to stop writing for a time because of the natural demands of having a large family, while working full-time to help put my husband through seminary. At that point, I had to pull completely off the road. But writing was a gift, burning in me to come out in stories. During my break, I wrote story ideas on napkins, took fifteen minutes to compose songs or develop poems, and held the dream in my heart by reading great writing.
And waited. (Sometimes not very patiently). I’ve wanted to give up so many times, but couldn’t. Truly. God would always bring something into my path to get me back on the road. I would read my work and look to heaven asking, “Am I there yet?”, but He knew the best timing.
So the real test for me was not only waiting, but trusting in His timing.
In June 2014 my family made a BIG move to Asheville, NC. It has been a tough transition for everyone, especially my older kids. I didn’t write a word for three months because of the massive demands of a new job and transitioning my kids into a new school. The journey seemed too long and hard. Maybe it was time to make a big U-turn and give up altogether – but then something happened.
Thirteen years after my first conference, I received a contract for my first book in the middle of September. By the end of November, I had two more contracts. I’m headed into 2015 on a new road of publication and the way is new, uncharted, exciting, and a little scary – so I’m … writing and praying God will give me the same patience, strength, and wisdom to create beautiful stories to touch ‘waiting’ hearts with God’s truth.
What can I tell you to encourage those of you wandering on the road-trip?
1. Find ways to enjoy the journey.
The scenery is lovely if you take the time to look. God is teaching you things in the waiting period. New ways to trust him, to build faith in you, to look to Him for strength and creativity instead of ourselves. There is natural joy in the creative process of writing, so delve deep and relearn the joy of story.
2. Enjoy the people within your journey.
God’s placed specific people in this proverbial car with you. For some, it might be kids, a spouse, or parents – for others it might be writing friends or a church family. Don’t forget to celebrate those around, beside you, encouraging you along the way. When we get so distracted by our own ‘waiting’ or detours, we lose sight of what (and who) is really important.
3. Make detours and ‘pull-overs’ work for you
When life happens and you have to take a break or slowdown in your writing journey, remember that this detour is not a surprise to God. Find small, little ways to remind yourself of His call on your life to write. Take some time to read good books or listen to presentations about writing. Take a nature walk or watch a favorite movie. Stories are EVERYWHERE. Just because you don’t have time (or can’t) write at the moment doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the God-given fascination of story in almost every facet of our lives. Reading, watching, or listening to other people’s stories many times help encourage our own when the time is right to write again.
4. Remember “Not everyone who wanders is lost” (Tolkien)
When the writing well feels dry, try another creative route. Creativity can come out in so many ways, such as writing in a different genre, or developing another skill in yourself, or finding creative ways to serve in your church or teach your kids. Just because you’ve hit a dry-spell, doesn’t mean you’ve lost your way.
5. Keep writing
I may sound too simple but it’s incredibly important. KEEP WRITING. Just because you have to slow your pace to napkins or scratch paper, if God has called you to share the art of story, then WRITE. When He sends you on a detour? Write. When you feel bereft of creativity? Write. When you are angry at waiting? Write (I get some GREAT scenes of conflict out of this one). When you’re sad about a rejection or critique? Write.
Just keep writing.
Remember who’s driving the car of your life? God – and he knows the perfect road to get you to where he wants you to be. It may not be the route you’d choose, in fact it usually isn’t, but it is the path that’s best for you – for your good and His glory.
You may not be ‘there yet” and you may have no clue how much longer, but have faith in the One who gave you the gift of Story and – Just keep writing.
The One who called you to be a Storyteller has the right destination in mind for you.
What's your destination? Tell us about your route to that destination.
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Pepper D Basham has been telling tales ever since she was a little girl. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and lover of chocolate, Pepper enjoys sprinkling her native Appalachian culture into her fiction wherever she can, usually writing Blue Ridge Romance peppered with grace and humor. Usually you'll find her hanging out with her family, working with kids who have special needs, searching for unique hats, or plotting new ways to annoy her wonderful friends at her group writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of Seymour Literary Agency.
Her debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, came out in May 2015 and is the first book in the Penned in Time series. Books 2 and 3 of Penned in Time, come out in 2016.
Her first contemporary romance, A Twist of Faith, is slated to release later this year. You can find her at www.pepperdbasham.com or follow her writing antics on her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-D-Basham or Twitter at https://twitter.com/pepperbasham
The Thorn Bearer by Pepper D. Basham
From the decks of the ill-fated Lusitania to the smoke-filled trenches of France, Ashleigh must choose between the forgiveness of her past, life in the present, and a Savior who can rescue her from them all.
When her fiancé leaves her eight months before their wedding, the unexpected blow ignites a battalion of insecurities stemming from her father’s intimate betrayal. Her worst fears are confirmed – who could ever love a soiled woman?
In an attempt to escape the shame and disappointment of her past, Ashleigh boards the ill-fated Lusitania to cross the war-torn waters of Europe. Much to her dismay, she isn’t traveling alone.
Sam Miller is always making up for his best friend’s mistakes. Determined to help Ashleigh, he offers his compassion and protection as she ventures across a perilous sea. With the faint hope of renewing his lost love for Ashleigh’s sister, Sam never expects to find the woman of his dreams in his best friend’s former fiancé and his own childhood companion.
As they travel across the Atlantic, neither is prepared for the life-altering and heart-breaking journey of their friendship.
When the truth of Ashleigh’s past explodes in the middle of war and Sam rejects her, Ashleigh must decide if God is enough – or if the double weight of her betrayal and past will crush her life forever.