Sunday, January 30, 2011

Regaining Focus

I have not sent out any queries yet. However, January is not officially over until Tuesday. And if I don't get them out by tomorrow, I DO PLAN to get them out this week (I promise, Desiree--please don't hurt me :-D). I just need to take my time and do it right instead of rushing just to make sure I meet a personal deadline. But no more mamby pamby land for me. Throw a tissue box at me and call me a "Jackwagon." I'm doing this.

I HAVE sent some fairy tale samples to a friend of mine who owns a small publishing company. We're still in the baby step stage here, but not in the eensie weensie baby step stage anymore. There's something (even if that something is very, very small) being done instead of just being talked about. I know there's still a lot to do with this. I still have to figure out the direction I have for this project while waiting for all the legal issues and other stuff that goes completely over my head to get cleared up. I still have a lot of writing and editing to do on this project, while NOT neglecting the other editing I need to do on other projects. I'd like to start sending queries for another book by May. That's scary. I'm at the point where I need to scare myself a little more...Jackwagon.

Anyway, I'm starting to read these blogs of mine, and I realize that I've lost some focus in them. It's not that I shouldn't allow myself to update my few readers on what's going on in the writing world of Ruth (that sounds like an awesome kids tv show, but I digress...), but that's really not the original intent I had for this blog. In fact, it's starting to veer towards exactly what I DID NOT want for this blog.

In the past, I had these self-centered blogs that just basically gave people a run down of my day. "Today I was happy because I had a sandwich. I ate the sandwich. Then I was sad because my sandwich was gone. I'll make another sandwich tomorrow." I mean, this blog is hopefully not that boring, but I didn't create it to give people a run-down of my day. I created it to write about my thoughts on writing. That might occasionally mean I talk about projects I have going on or goals that I'm setting, but it should be more.

I'm going to try to refocus this blog on what I originally intended: Writing about writing. Writing about what God is teaching me through writing and through life. Writing about this gift that God has given me, and that He expects me to give back to others, proclaiming His name. I know that makes a lot of people uncomfortable, and quite honestly, it probably costs me some readers when they figure out I'm one of those weird Jesus fanatics.

Shrug. I can't help it. I can't separate God from my writing. Both God and my writing are central, crucial to my life. Writing without actively acknowledging God (and pleading for His presence/guidance/Spirit in every step of the process) is impossible for me. It would be like breathing without air. It just doesn't work.

So as I regain focus in my writing life (finally, THANK GOD, I am so ready to be MYSELF again, and I'm not myself if I'm not writing), I'm going to try to regain focus with this blog.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Have you ever written a blog and then deleted the whole thing?

I just did that.

I'm very frustrated with myself right now. The blog I just deleted was basically about a page of me berating myself. The problem with it was not that what I said wasn't true, but really, who wants to read a page of me berating myself?

I'm frustrated because I haven't had a lot of time to write recently (I worked 2 extra nights this week because people at work are sick, and I had to fill in), but I haven't made good use of the time I have.

I haven't been writing. I haven't been editing. I haven't been actively seeking publication. Basically, I'm not a very good writer right now. I have a goal of sending at least five queries a month to literary agents (until I find one), and yet January is almost over and I haven't even sent one little query. It's easy to blame the lack of time, but I know that's not a good excuse. There's a reason I'm dragging my feet, and believe me, I have every right to be frustrated with myself.

I have no gumption. I've never had any gumption. I have talent. I have ability. I have resources. God only knows how many opportunities I've missed. And it's all because I don't have any gumption. Suddenly, that's just not good enough anymore.

The truth is, I'm just as afraid of success as I am of failure. In fact, I might be more comfortable with failure. I'm used to it. It takes far more courage to succeed than it does to least for me. When you fail, there's disappointment and maybe a little embarrassment, but no one expects anything of you. And the more you fail, the less people expect. You become pathetic, but you're safe. It's when you succeed that suddenly you have more responsibility. You have more people expecting more from you. And then there's that little idea of the unknown that causes me to stare sleepless at the ceiling some nights. I don't know how to be a successful writer...and the thought of becoming one actually scares me....

Ugh. It's not good enough. God's given me too much and shown He's too faithful for me to act (or not act) this way. I'm frustrated with myself, and I really hope this leads to some action.

I'm not sure if this is a good prayer or not, but pray I get some gumption. After all, the rest of this has come from the Lord's hand, too. My only boast is in Him.

I hope I don't update this blog again until I've sent out some good queries. I hope it's not too long.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I just wanted my readers to be aware of my other blogs. You can click on the links above (below the header with my ginormous face), or you can click them right here: (Funny/Embarrassing/Odd moments from my socially awkward life) (Written by my amazing Dragon Muses)

You might also want to check out the RightTime KiDS blog, for which I frequently write:

Give those links a clickety click. You'll be glad you did!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

All Together Now

December knocked me down and stole my lunch money.

That's the way it seems, anyway. In December, I lost all track of the pathetic semblance of a routine I pretended I once had. I had a full work week this past week, which started out with me being an hour late because I had misread the schedule. Doh. Great start to a new year...or not. The rest of the week was a pretty confusing blur.

Anyway, I am trying to get my life back together so that I can actually start doing some of the awesome things I planned on doing this year. But this morning I started thinking, "Hmm. The words 'getting my life BACK together' imply that my life has deteriorated from a previous state of 'togetherness.' I'm not so sure I EVER had my 'life together' to begin with."

I remember my second senior year of college (that should tell you something right there) when I was 24 and most the girls on my hall were 18-year-old freshmen. Bless them, most of them looked up to me. Some of them even called me "Mama Ruth." And a few of them even expressed to me that they thought I had it "all together." Yeah, I'm sure it probably seemed that way because I had 6 years of experience that those girls didn't yet have. The truth is, I've never really had it "all together."

But I really do want to be more organized than I currently am. I don't have to be perfect. That's not what I'm all about here. This idea of having it "all together" is just how I'd like to appear to people, and honestly, it just doesn't really matter what other people think. Most people don't pay enough attention anyway because they don't care. Most of them are probably too busy trying to organize their own lives to worry about how I do or do not organize my life. It's just this stupid competition we all imagine ourselves having with other people.

With that being said, I still need to get organized so that I can actually start doing the things I want to do this year (and this life). The reason for this is because I've been given a lot; I'm responsible for using what I've been given.

I've heard well-meaning people say we should just trust God. Trust God and it will all turn out all right. Trust God. Trust God. Trust God.

I know where they're coming from. I believe, as they most likely do, that Christians are not saved by works, but by the grace of God through faith in Jesus. And I can understand how it can seem a little sticky when God has given us work to do. How much of that work is our effort, and how much of that is God's intervention?

It's easy to drift to one extreme or the other. Either we don't do anything and just "trust God," or we go to the other end, putting all our human effort into it--and eventually get arrogant and steal glory from God.

In the not too distant past, I think I was veering towards the first of those, though perhaps not to the most extreme extreme. I was working towards my goals and working on the projects I had, but I was not doing as much as I could. I didn't want to take glory from God. I wanted to trust Him to complete what He had begun.

But the more I write, pray, and live, the more I believe I am supposed to be an excellent writer--or at least the most excellent writer I can be. It's not because I have some glorious ambition of being the next J. K. Rowling (that train left a lot time ago--and it was NOT the Hogwarts Express). It's because the One who has called me and equipped me is excellent.

When it all comes down to it, I didn't will myself to be a writer. The ability to write was given to me. The abilities to imagine, create, dream, edit were also given to me. God the Author has made me in His image by breathing His creativity into me. He's given me dreams that have become stories. When I sit down with pen and paper, or when I sit down at the laptop keyboard, something happens. The Creator of the universe enables me to write. The gifts are from Him.

But if I don't sit down and write, then nothing happens.

And if I write and just try to present the first draft of my stories or songs or whatever, they might be good, but they probably aren't excellent. And I've got to look beyond the idea that I'm making things excellent so that other people will see their excellence. Certainly that is a very good thing. I want people to enjoy and get something out of what I write. But it's not the most important thing.

Because Cain killed his brother Abel because he was jealous that God had found Abel's sacrifice acceptable, while rejecting Cain's. But Cain's heart wasn't right to begin with, because he didn't give his best. And like Cain, I don't have anything except what's been given me. But if I just put forth minimal effort with what I've been given, then that's a pretty poor offering.

The context is slightly different, but King David said that he would not offer God a sacrifice that cost him nothing. In David's case, he was insisting upon paying a man for the location, oxen, and materials he would use for a burnt offering. In my situation, the context is different, but the idea is the same. Am I to offer to God work that cost me nothing--or next to nothing? Am I to just produce something to be producing it, or should it be my best work?

And if it's my best work, then shouldn't I be spending a lot more time writing, editing, rewriting, and editing again...and again...and again...? Shouldn't I really be working to pursue agents instead of just sending out a few pathetic letters and praying for the best?

I've come to the conclusion that the work I do is not something I enable myself to do, but since I have been given the ability, I also have the responsibility to produce the most excellent work I can. It's not because I'm brilliant. It's not because I want to be some great writer (well, okay, so I do...but that's not the main thing). It's because the One who has called me is worth my best work.

So I'm trying to get my life as "together" as I can get it. It's a work in progress, like pretty much everything else. I'm starting a diet/exercise routine tomorrow (God willing). I'm trying to stick with a plan of reading the Bible in a year. I'm keeping record of whether or not I pray everyday, just because I know I'm not disciplined without it (on a side note, I'm not just praying to check it off a list. I'm praying because I need to spend time with God, but I know myself enough to know that right now I need the discipline aid of marking it off a list). I'm also going to start making some goals for myself in getting writing done and query letters out. I also need to start making some serious plans towards recording some songs. That's right. And with those songs, I'm going to have to settle for making them only as excellent as I can make them. My guitar skills are on an elementary level. In other words, I suck.

But the Lord has given me these things to do. I have some interesting ideas for them. I'm excited to see what He's going to do in the next few months. I'm pretty sure I'll never have it "all together," but even though I'm trying to work hard, I'm still relying on grace. There's hope. Lots of hope.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011: The Year I Make Contact??

So sorry I haven't updated in a while. December was the craziest month ever with parties and shopping and baking and traveling. Now it's January. January 1. 1/1/11. I was still accidentally writing 2009 on checks, so I'm not exactly sure what happened to 2010, but it's gone.

And I'm sad to report that Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke were wrong. 2010 was NOT the year we made contact. (If you're confused, 2010 was the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Now you know.)


Oh well, that movie sucked. The book was a little better, but I'm kind of glad alien monoliths aren't popping up all over the solar system...

But I was really hoping that 2010 would be the year I personally made contact with a literary agent. I was wise enough not to put down in writing, "My resolution for 2010 is to get an agent and a book contract." Rather, my resolution for 2010 was, "I want to do everything in my power to find an agent and work towards getting a book contract." The thing is, I'm not entirely sure I did everything within my power to find an agent. BUT, I'm not sure how much wisdom was in that resolution anyway.

I mean, I've learned SO much over the past year about the writing/publishing industry. I've learned it's a LOT harder and takes a LOT longer than most people believe to find an agent/get a book contract. In fact, if I were to get signed by an agent today, it could still be years before getting published. Years. ...if 2010 hadn't been such a short year, I might be crying right now.

Honestly, I'm glad I didn't do everything in my power to get an agent last year. That would have meant doing some pretty stupid things--like quitting my jobs so I could write/edit more, or telling my friends I could never see them again because I had writing stuff to do, or telling my mom that I'd return all her phone calls after I finally got a book contract. My mom would be waiting awhile...

I'm not sure what a wiser resolution would be, but I do have some resolutions for the year. One of them is realistically attainable, if I work towards it and make it a priority. Another is realistically attainable, if I work towards it and communicate well with other parties involved. Another is attainable in theory, but only if the stars properly align.

Last year I lost 40 pounds. Unfortunately, I stopped exercising in about August and started eating massive amounts of cookies in November, and I've consequently gained back about 10 pounds. So one of my resolutions for this year is to lose another 20 pounds. Definitely attainable if I work towards it and make exercise a priority--yes, even over writing. I need to set aside time to exercise. That's all there is to it.

I also have a resolution this year to get something published. This is attainable because I don't plan on traditionally publishing this project. I plan on going through a small company. It's a collection of short stories. At this point, most of them need editing, and I might even need to write a few more. But I think this goal is very attainable if I work towards it. I plan on being able to call myself a published author this year.

My other resolution is trickier, and probably very unwise, but I think it's possible. I want to sign with a literary agent this year. I'm much closer to being able to attain that goal than I was last year. We'll see what happens.

All in all, I'm pretty excited about a new year. I'm excited to see what will happen to me personally and professionally. I'm excited to see what's happening in the lives of my friends and in the lives of my fellow writers. There's a lot going on. Basically, I'm just going to keep trying to be faithful with what God's given me to do...but more on that in the next blog.

Thank you to all of you who read this for sharing in what's going on with me.