Hands and Knees Navigation

“Perhaps the greatest achievement of writing is to become less sure of oneself.”
~ Brian Doyle

The aged rarely hurry. Time and use and strain deplete muscle and bone and marrow of youth’s vigor, suffusing the void with a dichotomy of uncertainty and wisdom which beg measured steps.

Writing likewise begs an unhurried pace. My fingers manage about 70 words per minute when I transcribe the exact words of someone else. My own thoughts might read in my mind with equal clarity and run toward a clear destination, but they’ll crowd over one another and onto a page at a somewhat slower WPM.

What’s more likely is a meeting between a sheet of white before my eyes, strands of understanding and feelings in my mind and heart, and a gripping compulsion in my soul to bring concrete shape to the altogether abstract. My fingers then wander and grasp for each word as they crawl across the page.

For fiction and non-fiction alike, whether my outline and components are defined with precise or rough edges, the navigation of crawling requires the use of both hands and knees. Whatever gift I have, however developed my writing craft, no amount of raw talent and polished skill can bridge the spiritual and mortal without divine empowerment.

“I am like a little pencil in God’s hand. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it.”
~ Mother Teresa

Do I believe I can present some worthy work that originates with me? Or do I simply offer myself to God, asking Him to use me for His work?

If our writing is His means of conveying stories and ideas and a purpose bigger than the entertainment or information transfer we’d otherwise compose, then allowance must be made for God to be actively engaged in our writing.

The suggestion to pray throughout the process of writing may be stating the obvious to you, or it may be a great new idea. Either way, this reminder comes with a few practical pointers:

• Before sitting down to write, check with the Lord for other priorities.
• If writer’s block strikes, be still and wait for the Lord’s leading.
• Allow God to take an idea in another direction than you had in mind.
• Edit with a spiritual eye, asking God’s Spirit what is pleasing to Him.
• Work toward deadlines with intentional room for chats with the Lord.
• Seek God to resolve conflict (with schedule, editor, outline, etc.).
• Prioritize time with God’s Word to sharpen your power with words.
• Shelve preconceived ideas of God’s intent and timing for the end product.
• Recognize, thank, and praise the Lord for every blessing along the way.
• Before considering a work complete, ask God if you missed anything.

[May God] make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.
~ Hebrews 13:21 (NKJV)

What other specific elements bring the Lord into your writing?
Do you have a testimony of God at work through your words?

Success and Spiritual Warfare

"Christ in Gethsemane" by Michael O'Brien

Today, Good Friday, we remember the great cost paid for our lives.

And [Jesus] said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
~ Mark 14:36 (NKJV)

When our Savior pleads with His Father in Gethsemane, exactly what does “the cup” contain? Jesus has already given His word that He will accept the contempt and degradation, scourging and crucifixion, and the death required by bearing sin, horrific as these all are. The cup evidently contains something far worse, so terrible that Jesus Himself wishes to avoid it.

I believe “the cup” contains sin’s monstrous, consummate penalty—isolation from God as He turns away from the one bearing sin (Matthew 27:46).

We who are Christ’s will never taste of that cup. The veil is torn asunder, and we have sweet fellowship with God, to our everlasting gratitude and praise.

I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the LORD.
~ Psalms 118:17 (NKJV)

Christian authors declare faith in penning everything from theological resources to respectable entertainment, inspirational devotion to suspenseful adventure, history to romance. Our works usually combine such elements, for we use all possible means to connect with readers and build up their faith.

Would we expect success to go unnoticed by our enemy?

Whatever else is shared and learned about writing, publishing, marketing, etc., the substantial spiritual warfare that many authors experience should also be noted. The wider our sphere of influence becomes, the more important it is to prepare ourselves for spiritual attack.

The devil will use anything he can to diminish our spiritual vitality and fruit. Among his weapons are:
• deceit or distortion of truth
• distractions
• conflicts or division / separation among believers
• strong temptation to fall into immorality
• inflated feelings of success and pride
• discouragement or overwhelming feeling of failure
• depression, confusion, or other mental impairment
• contempt from impersonal critics
• betrayal by personal friends
• attacks on reputation or unfounded accusations
• unusual stress in health, finances, and relationships
• terrifying demonic presence, perhaps via nightmares

I unhappily confess that although I’d waged and won smaller spiritual battles, my strength faltered when the fight became fierce. I had lost top fitness, gradually spending more time serving the Lord and less time in simple fellowship with Him. I was then blind sided by the intensity of an all out spiritual attack, which occurred on the heels of publishing successes.

Just as we acquaint and train ourselves with the publishing resources made available to us in order to succeed, we do well to acquaint and train ourselves with the spiritual armor made available to us through the price paid at Calvary.

I write to you, young people, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have victory over the evil one.
~ 1 John 2:14

Today we remember the great cost paid for our lives—and we may think of our lives as the goal for which Christ died.

Our lives, rather, are the means for a greater end—fellowship with God. And fellowship with God is what drives our spiritual fervor, empowers our spiritual gifts, and wins our spiritual battles.

Q4U: Have you experienced spiritual attack, concurrent to your successes? How have you overcome?

© 2012, Anne Lang Bundy

#1 in Marketing: First Love

photo source: streetJesus.info

To the Chief Musician…
A Song of Love.
My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
~ Psalms 45:1 (NKJV)

Confession #1: Though people have long commended my writing, being published was never a dream.

Confession #2: Though I’ve written professionally since 1981, and for ministry and Sunday school since 1991, writing fiction wasn’t something that crossed my mind.

Confession #3: I know almost zero about marketing.

: : :

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
~ John 1:1-2 (NKJV)

Jesus, the Word of God, enjoys telling stories. I didn’t anticipate that He might infect me with the same pleasure. Not on that autumn day in 1985 when I met the Word of God, and it was love at first sight. Not when I read the Bible cover to cover, over and over. Not during the decades when I found myself studying anything Bible-related, reading little else.

By 2007, the people of the Bible had become so alive to me that I couldn’t stop pondering them. I compared passages of Scriptures to learn more about these saints. I factored in all I’d learned about history, archeology, and ancient culture. Then, imagination began to fill the remaining gaps.

How could I help but write the stories in my head and heart?

I went on to educate myself about publishing, which includes marketing and “platform.” Ack!

“Lord, I don’t want to tell people about me. I want to tell them about You, and Your Word, and Your amazing people. I’m a nobody!”

He gently molded such whining into a prayer:

Lord, please help me develop a platform that gives more prominence to You than to me.

: : :

My heart sank when I signed up to write a post this month. All the Wednesday slots had been taken.

And no WAY I’m gonna take a Tuesday and write about marketing!

Good grief, I have hardly a thousand Twitter followers! I could have more, but I only follow back people I know personally, or people who are still my followers a month after they start following me. I’m interested in real people, not mere numbers generated from auto-follow programs.

Then the Lord reminded me of the marketing strategy He gave me a long time ago:

“It matters less what people think of me than what they think of Jesus Christ because of me.”

And so I’m here, telling you that neither writing nor publishing nor platform is my first love. They’re simply the means to an end with me. My real passion is people, and the Word of God, and Jesus.

As I said, I know almost zero about marketing—almost.

But I do know what’s #1 in marketing: you’ve got to be passionate about whatever you market. Marketing is simply the means of making known our first love.

Q4U: What aspect of marketing to you actually LOVE?

The Marriage of Art and Business: Match Made in Heaven?

photo source: author & husband

Ah, the bliss in human romance! That meeting of eyes which awakens destiny. Those flutters of the heart when looking upon one’s beloved. That first fleeting brush of skin against skin … that inviolable first press of lips to lips.

Am I the only cynic with the audacity to note that romances of the fictional persuasion tend to end just before or soon after the altar with a vague “happily ever after”?

Not so in the real world. Here, sly Romance drives opposites to unite themselves in marriage, then dances laughingly into the shadows to watch the eruption of vinegar joining baking soda, one eyebrow raised as bubbles fizzle in a spewing mess.

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.”
~ Winston Churchill

You no doubt visit here because you are enraptured by the romance between Writing and Publishing. Could the differences between women and men possibly be more pronounced than those between art and business?

Writing plumbs the depths of all things horribly beautiful and paints them with deft strokes, that someone might look upon the canvas and see what the artist has seen—might know what the artist knows.

Writing then casts longing eyes at Publishing. Publishing appreciates Writing’s beauty, gazing upon her often, in every lovely form she takes. Ever the pragmatist, Publishing knows his survival depends on Writing’s inner strength. Writing willingly dresses herself to please Publishing, who holds the stronger hand in the relationship. She is determined to make herself irresistible enough to garner his proposal of marriage between her art and his business.

Writing and Publishing are both aware that the promise of a storybook marriage upon which millions will smile also holds the risk of being consumed in the anguish of rejection. And though neither Publishing nor Writing sets out to cause the other pain, their marriage is destined to experience all the agony and the ecstasy common to any marriage between opposites.

Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain…
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil …
~ Psalm 127:1-2 (ESV)

In romance between man and woman, the wise will ask if God smiles upon them—certainly before tying the knot and hopefully well before longing glances are permitted to grow into full-fledged courtship. Failure to do so can result in everything but “happily ever after.”

As we writers consider the marriage of opposites between writing and publishing—the union of art’s beauty and business’s pragmatism—it behooves us to know with certainty that the Lord Himself is playing Matchmaker.

Q4U: Whatever your relationship between art and business at the moment, what helps you determine when you write as only art (or ministry), and when you believe that God is leading you toward marriage of art and business?

Carpe Diem—Seize the Day!

Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero
“Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future.”
~ Horace


My first few heady months on the fiction venture promised much.

The last word of my manuscript hit the page less than four months after my first fiction word. Another four months flew by as I started a blog and attended a writer’s conference—garnering one agent’s rejection, one editor’s request for a proposal and manuscript, and a second agent’s offer of representation.

God Himself seemed to prompt the flow of words and throw open doors for this new calling. I surely owed Him my best in return, and wholeheartedly threw myself into pursuit of publication, believing I’d obtained a ticket on the fast track.

Then reality hit. Decades of only legal and ministry writing left some room for developing fiction craft. More than one re-write lay before me. Platform building needed some time.

Other writers offered Helpful Tips:

“The secret to writing is butt in chair—put it there and don’t move it.”

“A sign on the closed door to my office reminds the kids: ‘DON’T KNOCK UNLESS YOU’VE ALREADY CALLED 911.’ ”

“Followers = Platform! Spend hours on blogs, leave oodles of comments, and watch your numbers soar.”

Such measures never quite hooked me. But my perspectives did shift. I kept the fridge stocked and laundry baskets filled with clean clothes, lest ordinary mortal tasks of meal preparation and laundry be utterly neglected. Sleep became a nuisance once my art-driven energy soared. Spare moments were afforded to non-online faces.

Somewhere along the way, I started to forget: Writing about life doesn’t replace living life.

So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
~ Psalm 90:12 (NKJV)

Thank God for kids who won’t be ignored. However compelling the calling to write, God forbid that I ever see the day’s word count or blog post as more important than my husband or kids being certain of my love, than working through conflict, than spending some time with someone who’s hurting.

I do have a calling to write which is blessed by the Lord and worthy of my dedication. Professionals have affirmed the compelling story I’ve written. My stellar agent and I both have high hopes for my future in publishing.

But I’m content to wait for a novel’s release date, now that I’ve learned:

“Every day is an opportunity to make a new happy ending.”
~ Unknown

P.S. to post: I never actually adopted those tips, or employed that sign. But feel free to use it if the Lord leads YOU …

A Time for Every Purpose

Perhaps an author of bygone days was permitted the leisure of penning a work and leaving all else to publishing people. Today’s author must also be given to social media engagement, marketing, writers conferences, blogging—where is the time to write?

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven …
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)

My time-management skills are far from perfected. But as a homeschooling mom and lay minister with precious few hours to write, I’m motivated to faithfully put into practice three things I’ve learned so far.

Time needs to be ORDERED. A no-brainer, right? Ordering time begins with a calendar and then goes on to account for the items without an entry. Household chores, down time, and fitness for both soul (Bible-reading & prayer) and body (exercise) can get pushed aside if time is not allotted for them. Omitting them on occasion is unavoidable. Missing them regularly may overtake us with a vengeance.

Time needs to be RESPONSIVE. You can only call it flexible if you’ve ordered your time and then have something to flex from. Responsive time allows me to be sensitive to the needs of others and cultivate healthy relationships. (Some of the most important conversations I have shift something else.) Perhaps most importantly, responsive time helps me accept God making a change to the schedule He owns anyway.

Time needs to be PURPOSEFUL. Urgency and deadlines do motivate a person to focus on the task at hand. But unless I’ve defined with God what His purpose for my life is, and I keep my eye on that goal, my less-focused hours are easily wasted on activities which undermine my true purpose. Like money and seo services, time impulsively spent on the wrong thing makes it unavailable for the right thing.

The writer’s soul longs to produce something bigger than itself. Our art is transformation of ideas from abstract to concrete, leaving our stamp upon the world. Words are our medium—words of purpose purchased with time.

… What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?
I have seen the God-given task
with which the sons of men are to be occupied.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Also He has put eternity in their hearts …
~ Ecclesiastes (3:9-11)

The rest of us are dying to know! What’s your own best time-management tip?

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