Roadside Photography

I was three minutes from my house when I decided to pull to the side of the road to photograph the neighbor’s red barn. But the soil was too wet and the wildflowers too thick to get a good view. I don’t recommend photographing from a busy roadside. In fact, I can’t recall engaging in this dangerous endeavor until today.

All I can say, is it must’ve been the wildflowers. It’s always the flowers that beckons me to come closer.

 

 

 

5 Top Ways to Welcome Spring

A favorite memory of springtime is the year Joe and I moved to the country with our two young sons, Jerry and Jason. The volunteer grasses were thick and green and tall. I can still hear the giggles as we rolled down the grassy hillside. Our sons are grown now and the volunteers aren’t as tall. But the beauty of springtime remains unchanged.

 

Space

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This is where I labor with my writing—in a converted bedroom, after the nest had emptied years ago. When I began working here, the desks were joined in an L-shape. The longest section was out of reach, (manufactures don’t make L- shaped chair mats) and therefore unused. So, Iron Man redesigned it. Since then, every inch is used.

My space is much different from Mark Twain’s pink office with a view behind the desk and a pool table in front. Unlike his office design, I prefer to look out at the perennial garden and twisted oak limbs. If it were possible, I’d have French doors, swing them open, and let nature freewheel in, like Virginia Woolf’s writing shed.

But on occasion, we have rattle snakes.

Sometimes, I’m interrupted by birds on the window ledge, cottontails at the lawn’s edge, and a seasonal turkey whose head pops up like a Jack-in-the-Box, peering inside and scaring me out of my chair. On the weekends, Iron Man taps on the window, bidding me to engage in a different type of work.

Physical labor.

There are many forms of labor, each shuffled into our lives by choice, necessity, or passion. For now–and for many years to come–whatever the challenges may be, I hope the work produced in your space derives from passion.

Happy Labor Day.

Storytelling is Simple, but Writing…

Recently, I sat at one of the dining tables in my friend’s cozy B&B carriageway to discuss my sequel. Afterwards, she asked about my writing process: if my stories are composed at the computer or primarily longhand and if I sit down and start writing. I glanced sideways for a split second, thinking about storytelling. Looking back into my friend’s curious eyes and beautiful smile, I replied, “I write at the computer.”

She nodded and we moved on to another subject.

When I got home, I thought about how simple the process must have sounded. Storytelling is simple, but writing…well,

there are no keyboard strokes, mouse clicks or cursive exercises to make writing easy.

But, there is prayer. No matter how difficult a scene or an awkward sentence stumps me, prayer calms the anxiety within so I can hear the Holy Spirit deliver a solution.

God cares about every aspect of our lives.

He wants us to be the best we can to glorify Him through our endeavors. It’s through those diverse avenues and hard work that our faith and skills are oftentimes stretched. And boy, have my writing skills (and faith) been stretched.

After learning much about proper grammar usage, punctuation, sentence and paragraph length, befuddled sentences or sections, clarification, theme, tightening, plotting, twists, pacing, timeline and organization, point of view, hooks, transitions, dialogue and emotional tags, internal monologue, narrative flow, conflict, element of mystery and surprise, character creation, consistency and believability, fresh descriptions, setting, symbolism, clichés and repetitive usage, backstories, showing and telling, research, proofreading, and attending writing classes, workshops, webinars, finding a compatible critique partner and/or group, beta readers, and an editor followed by more rewrites…the writing process—and this is the short list—is catching up with the ease of storytelling. But it still isn’t as simple as sitting down and just writing.

Likewise, living a life for God isn’t always simple. But, if we stay on the right path, He gives us plenty of past victories to revisit, to encourage and keep us moving forward, assured that:

In time, our endeavors will be less challenging. Maybe even simple.

Confession Time: on handwritten notes and letters

 

 

There’s something special about the effort of choosing suitable paper or card, a pen that won’t leak or smear, doesn’t contain glitter, or isn’t green or purple or pink or red. Yaks, red reminds me of old school assignments marked up by my teachers.

These days, it’s unusual to sit down and write freehand. Most correspondences are done via texting (which I haven’t mastered yet) or email. It’s quick, easy, free, and can reach multiple receivers with one click. But these methods have a higher risk of accidentally reaching the wrong person. I’ve heard stories of broken hearts, lost relationships and jobs when this happens. There’s also the risk of being misunderstood or neutral instead of caring or enthusiastic. Quick and easy isn’t the best means of communication, not all of the time.

When I write longhand, it’s done slowly. Partly because I’m a perfectionist about the message I want to express, proper spelling and punctuation, and keeping my sentences across the page straight. (There are no lines in beautiful cards.) For these reasons, and lack of time, I rarely write with pen and paper.

There, I confessed. I don’t do what I love to receive.

But I know the effort it takes to write longhand. I know how it feels to open a stamped envelope and see the writer’s penmanship–simple or elegant–prompting a visual of him or her. This is what I love most. The writer is present while I read their stories of daily life.

Which writing method do you prefer?