Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Flash Fiction + Fresh Air

I'm writing this post on a Monday morning before breakfast, as an early October sunbeam stretches across the grass. Sometimes life requires you to slow down and bask in the details. A lot of things have been happening lately, and I'd love to share them with you.

I went to a writer's conference this week. It's a place I know and love, and God kindly opened doors that I had never even knocked on to make it possible for me to go. I didn't know how needed it was. I was able to spend time in solitude, thinking about my books, and with people, getting and giving encouragement in the craft of writing. Seriously, every writer should budget in a writer's conference every year if they can. I know it's not possible for everyone, but it is an irreplaceable encouragement. Especially if you can go year after year, until it becomes a place you are known and loved. You should come to my conference. I don't put up locations near me on the internet, but if you're looking for a good one, drop me a line at ladybibliophileblog[at]gmail[dot]com and I can direct you further.

flash fiction and flashes of truth

While I was there, I wrote a piece of flash fiction. It was a scene that could never possibly work out in one of my novels for a variety of reasons. But I wanted to write a scene inspired by it, so I did a combination of memory and time travel flash-back to give the piece an otherworldly feel. In between sessions, or even sometimes during sessions, I would jot down one sentence after another, with as much rich sensory description and emotional connection as I could.
About a year ago, I took a trip to England and had the oddest day of my life. I don’t know if I’m actually going to send this account to you, but I couldn’t sleep last night, and I figured I would jot down a few details just to knock it out of my head. It’s been hovering about me ever since I came home, and in spite of all the coding I’ve done lately, it’s ruining my ability to complete this new programming deadline. Even mochas haven’t helped. So I figured I might as well pull out my childhood love of writing and spill it all out.
On Friday night they were showing a movie, and while I was interested, I couldn't emotionally handle the injuries the main character had to undergo. So I looked for a quiet place to tuck away and write. I ended up in an empty gymnasium, with seats lining the walls. One on one appointments had taken place there earlier that day, but now it was just a ghost room of silent echoes. I turned on the music, and the words came. All the way to the very end of the scene, when I knew I had written enough.

And then I sat there in the finish and cried. Because it was so gut-wrenchingly beautiful, and I felt the loss for what couldn't be.

That moment of pain gave me a moment of revelation that I think is one of the biggest reasons why I went to that conference. All of a sudden, I knew what I needed to be writing next. I might not have pulled out that piece of flash fiction at home, with other responsibilities. But in the quiet of the empty gym, and being surrounded by people, treating it like a mini retreat, God unlocked a lot of things that I didn't even know were tangled.

All vague, I know. But spoilers, so I can't go into specifics yet. Long and short of it: this conference gave me future writing direction that I didn't even know I was looking for.

worship and music

My favorite times were the moments when I was able to catch prayer time in the car. Life has been hectic. Downright crazy, the last few weeks. It will be for a little bit longer. But in the car, God and I were able to reconnect. Talk. Wrestle through some things. Some of it is a sweet time that I'll keep between him and me, but I was glad for the openness of solitude and intimate fellowship. I haven't been making enough time for that. There is a garden even in Gethsemane if Christ is there.

I also loved listening to my new CD (Facing a Task Unfinished) from the Gettys on the car rides back and forth. If you haven't heard "The Lord is My Salvation" yet, go treat yourself on Spotify. Good words. I got to meet them on my 22nd birthday, and that was a dream come true. :)

fresh air and encouragement

Sometimes what you need is some good writing, a big dose of encouraging words, extra-special meals, and fresh air. Sleep is also good, which I didn't get a lot of, but I didn't need it. I was being refueled in other ways. Words are my love language, and I could think about them from a happy perspective this weekend--the way I love to use them most. Having mind, body and soul treated extra kindly really meant a lot.

The meals were almost too good, so twice one day and once the next day I took a walk in the fresh, cool air down to our big inland lake. A shot of fresh air was just what I needed more of. Laying on the sand, getting bitten by flies and writing by hand in a notebook was perfect. The lake was still, like glass that day, with just the faintest, heavenly sound of ripples along the shore. For a little while, I had Travis Cottrell's "Thanks Be To Our God" playing out loud to the accompaniment because I was the only one there. I didn't want to leave behind that moment.

It was a good time. A retreat tucked in the middle of the craziness of life.

Plus, there was family and birthday cake to come home to, and that was pretty special after a long weekend. ;)


  1. I am so glad you had this time! It all reminds me of this Elizabeth Goudge quote:

    “That’s the monastic ideal,” said Judy, “and I’ve always thought it rather selfish—a creeping away from life.”
    “Then you have misunderstood it,” he said. “The monastic ideal is a core of sanity in a loathsome world, a core of sanity that spreads. Again and again men have gone into solitude to create beauty, and the beauty, created, has revolutionized a whole country.”
    Judy was still unconvinced. “But if nothing can get through the mountains to contaminate your Utopia, how can the beauty you create get out into the world?”
    “If you light a bonfire in a sheltered valley the protection makes such a huge blaze of it that those outside see the whole sky lit up.”

    1. What a wonderful quote. I love that wisdom and truth--and the blaze of the bonfires....

  2. This post is so incredibly beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing part of yourself -- it was a beautiful read. <3


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