Baptized in #Imagination & #Hope: the Gifts of the #Writing Spirit

Because it’s hard to write a few thousand words of novel every day when you get called into the principal’s office, called into the classroom, or simply called to take a particular child home several times over the past couple of weeks (seriously, Bash!?), I need to take a minute, and breathe.

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Sure, Bash looks happy now. You didn’t see him a few hours ago. 

We’ve all known these rough patches. We trip and sprain an ankle, tear the sole in our boot and step in a muddy puddle. Slow to a halt when a gaggle (herd? pack? hay bale?) of farmers turn their tractors off to chew gossip. And don’t get me started on those roads diverging in yellow woods.

Now’s the time for camaraderie and thankfulness for the authors who have walked with me in the blogosphere these past three years, and those who move me to keep on walking. Sci-fi writer J.I. Rogers‘ kind nomination provides me the chance to do just that.

Rogers is author of the sci-fi novel The Korpes Files, co-writer of Last Horizon: Collapse, and contributor to the speculative fiction adventure anthology On the Horizon. Do check them all out!

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“According to Okoto Enigma, ‘Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.’ ”

The rules

  • Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  • Tell your readers three things about yourself.
  • Nominate bloggers you feel deserve the award.
  • Answer questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice with one weird or funny one.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs.

My nominees

SJ HigbeeBecause she shares so many wonderful stories, and keeps me inspired to get my own stories out there, too.

Anne ClareBecause she’s one of my oldest friends, whose faith so often helps me center my own.

Callum StanfordBecause his drive to overcome all obstacles professional and personal stirs new strength in me every time I read his story.

Questions for my nominees

  1. Think back to the first story you ever wrote/drew. What was it about?
  2. Does your creativity spread into other skills?
  3. If there’s one book you wish you could UN-read, which would it be?
  4. Favorite tea or wine? (I’m always looking for recommendations)
  5. If you could visit one location on this lovely earth to study it for a story’s setting, which would it be?

Now me I decided to approach J.I. Rogers’ questions in a more nontraditional manner. Her questions came at a time when I was fretting in and out of prayer, and for some reason the gifts of the Holy Spirit fell into the mix, too.

Looking Water Person Mountain Lake View Highlands

And here’s an inspiriational-ish image from Max Pixel just to set the mood.


Gifts of the Writing Spirit

Respect

First and foremost, there is this awe, this legit fear of the power in imagination. My memory sucks–you ask me about a major childhood event, or high school shenanigans, or what we even spoke about yesterday, and I’ll blink at you blank. But I can recall nightmares that are decades old, and haunt me still. Nightmares from the age of four, when I dreamed my parents and a man with a handlebar mustache stood talking before a gothic cathedral while unseen arms picked me up and stuck me in a station wagon’s backseat. My folks’ heads never moved as I  pounded my little fists on the window. Their bodies shrunk as the gothic cathedral’s stone infested the world. I can describe the nightmare of being trapped in a house, gagged, with walls peeling open to pink, translucent tentacles. I can tell you the dream of the shadow that chased me through a dark church, flattening against the walls and then popping out, always in front of me, its bright blue eyes never blinking. And those are just the nightmares of imagination, not real life. 

If we want readers to respect our imaginations, to be trapped in our worlds past 3am, talking to the the typed letters like they’re real people–“Don’t go in there! Yeah, you tell’em! Wait, you can’t walk out on her now!”–then we need to treat our imaginations and all that live in them as real.

Counsel

71sst0-sdELWe all know we need to read well to write well. Sure, I’ll bust out the Shakespeare and the Austen every now and again, but I’ve always found more pleasure in reading books by Diana Wynne Jones. Her worlds never feel slipshod or half-done. The characters always have a bit of snarky wit about them, and they never do anything that feels out of sorts. The pacing, too, is a great thing to watch; just when you think she may be giving too much exposition, you find out quite a bit of plot’s been moving along right under your nose. One of the best guilty pleasures is re-reading Howl’s Moving Castle for fun.  It’s a beautiful example of two real characters, complete with stubborn streaks and conceited airs, still somehow falling for one another in the midst of working magic errands for a kingdom at war.

Fortitude

Must have coffee. Sometimes tea.

And peanut butter. Lots, and lots, of creamy peanut butter.

Knowledge

Ever watch or read something to learn what not to do? I find riffing shows quite useful in this department. Robot Co-Op, Rifftraxor old episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000  always teach me something as they roast games and films into hilarious remains because many of their jokes are rooted in the lousy writing. They give Writer Me a Reader’s reaction to the poor character development, lame dialogue, or muddled plots a half-assed story uses. If you don’t want your story to become infamous like Manos: The Hands of Fate, then do the story RIGHT!

Wisdom

We all of us have talents outside of writing. Anne Clare can make stained glass windows, for instance. Shehanne Moores an actor and director. We have these extra channels that help us pull our creativity out of a rut, even renew it.

Music is mine. At one point I was learning piano, violin, clarinet, and even organ. Fourteen years of lessons are going to leave their mark; that’s why I write so avidly about music, and listen to music whenever I write. It’s another realm of creation and adventure we have only to hear to believe. Even my heroine in Fallen Princeborn: Stolen is a pianist because I know how music mends the torn soul.

Piety

It’s not just about the reverence, it’s about the belief. You need to know it, feel it in the furthest reaches of your gut, in the callused skin of your fingertips. You have to move forward with the faith that you will succeed, that you will get your stories to readers. I kept that faith for thirty years: doodling stories, recording stories on cassettes, writing stories, going to school to learn about stories, hating school for what they said about stories, and then finally saying piss off to everyone and writing what I wanted to write.

And now here I am, signed on with Aionios Bookswith plans to publish my Fallen Princeborn Omnibus.

The first novel, Stolen, will be out this fall. Tales of the River Vine is a collection of six short stories I’m releasing one at a time for free download. The first, The Boy Who Carried a Forest In His Pocket, is already available, and the second, “The Stray,” will be out in July on Friday the 13th.

 

 

Understanding

When I was checking the list of what constitutes gifts of the spirit, I came across this notation for “Understanding”:

“To grasp faith’s mysteries.”

So it goes for writing.

As much as we may stand in awe of our imagination’s power, we must also journey through it to find its roots, and learn how it grows. As a child raised in a minister’s family, I was baptized in Word and Spirit: the water, the Bible passages, dove symbolizing God, etc. I was raised to believe that which the world deemed impossible: walking on water? Feeding thousands with scraps? Rising from the dead? Bah. Fairy tales.

Perhaps it was my father’s study, where Dr. Who figurines stood in front of Hebrew texts and Dragonriders of Pern sat shelved alongside doctrine commentaries. Somehow, my father’s love of fantasy and science fiction grew right alongside my faith. I accepted all the impossible: the wardrobes, the fairies, the dragons, the Highlanders–all felt as proper and real to me as Scripture.

And it’s this sense of realness, of trueness, that keeps my hope alive. There are so, so many worlds out there. Can’t you feel them? Found on a flight of whirligig seeds, hidden beneath the floorboards of the long-forgotten school outside of town. We have been baptized in imagination: we are the ones who see these places, feel their life force humming in the air. We have been baptized in hope, the hope that in our story-telling we will bring sight to the eyes that cannot see these worlds. We hope to find kindred souls who search, like us, behind the crumbling walls and through the old photographs to rediscover mysteries long forgotten.

We are blessed with such gifts to tell our stories. It is our power.

May we use it well.

 

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45 thoughts on “Baptized in #Imagination & #Hope: the Gifts of the #Writing Spirit

  1. Oh Jean, my lovely lady Jean, a wonderful post and even I am drying a wee tear for seeing my name in it. Everything you say is to true. Tow rite we have to experience the world, the whole world, so yes other things we do renew us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for your nomination! I am honoured – and will endeavour to do my best to answer your interesting questions honestly, yet entertainingly. Though do cut me a bit of slack… I’m not all that good at talking about myself without being very boring! There aren’t quite enough aliens in my daily life to make suitably engrossing reading!

    I loved reading your answers, Jean! The children do look adorable in that picture – I’m guessing Bash is a highly kinesthetic learner and school doesn’t always address those children’s needs… It is also a very busy term with lots going on and that doesn’t always sit well with some youngsters. Hope the next few weeks are a bit more peaceful…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh you’ll be fine, I’m sure! 🙂 Would you like me to send you one of MY aliens for a week? Month? 😛
      He seems to be FINALLY settling into the new changes. Changes in general are hard for the boys, but the worst, I think, is the change in the teachers. This past year Biff had the prim nun-type while Bash had the bubbly cupcake-type. Now Bash has the prim nun-type and is NOT digging her at ALL. At least Biff’s not been a source of problems…yet…knock on wood and turn thrice widdershins… xxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah… and the prim nun-type is also having to get used to Bash… Hopefully it will all sort itself out in due course. I’ll keep my fingers crossed the coming week goes smoothly. And yes please – I’ll happily take the offer of an alien:)

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll give you three for the summer, if you’d like! 🙂

        Yes, I’m really really REALLY hoping things balance out soon, especially as they’ll have another 3 weeks of summer school in July (thank goodness!). The smoother these days go, the less nervous I’ll be about the full-day Kindergarten they begin in September.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I MAY be having the grandchildren during the summer… though everything is rather up in the air at present:). But I’ve been looking after small people off and on (mostly on…) for the last thirty-five years and I find children fascinating – though I’m not remotely sentimental about them, which is why I find your writing about your three so engrossing, because you are very clear-eyed about them despite your evident love for them. It’s an unusual attribute to come across in a mother in my experience:).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aw, thanks! I hope you get your little one to watch, though the grandchild may hinder your writing/reading schedule a bit. 🙂 I feel really cool now–seriously, I always thought it was weird of me to have this different lenses on about parenting. You know the rose-tinted lenses, then there’s the blinders, and then I’ve got my cynic-lenses on that see through all the “You must have your hands full!” type lines I’ve gotten since the boys were born. I’ve no qualms telling the boys when they’re being brats when they yell/fight, just as I’ve no qualms telling them how amazing they are when they work out spelling words on their own and cleaning up without being pressed. When Bash was so volatile I had to pick him up from summer school, we visited the police station so he could learn what happens to grownups when they break things and hurt people out of anger.
        I ain’t mincin’ words with this lot. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes… I’ve made it clear that I’m not watching the new wee one to the extent I did with the others as I put my writing on hold for them – but time is passing and circumstances are forcing our hand. I have to step up and start monitising this writing lark and take the load off Himself. And looking after a baby is hard work – I don’t minding for the day, but J needs to sleep through the night so she simply cannot stay over. It’s not gone down very well:(.

        Oh well done. Boys and their tempers… most of them grow out of it and learn to manage it. Unless they learn they can use their volitility to get their own way – that clearly isn’t happening in your family. And it was the same here – Robbie had a filthy temper as a child and is now a very sweet-natured man. But oh my goodness – I had to hold the lines and ensure he understood when he was crossing them and that there was always a cost…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh heavens, I can’t fathom trying to care for a baby now, and I’m still in my 30s. There’s just only so much energy one can tap, and sleep is a must. I’m only getting 5 hours a night, but I NEED those 5 hours!
        Oy, the fact we can get into such arguments with five-year-olds, multiple times a day…ugh. But, BUT, they’ve gotten better in the last couple of years, each with their own spurts of decency. They’ve got too many amazing talents to be wasted with foolish, competitive tempers. 🙂
        I’ll be thinking of you this summer with that little one. You’ll find your balance, esp after your summer teaching assignments finish up! xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am one of those rare souls who doesn’t like ice cream so sympathise with your kid that doesn’t. It actually makes me cross. particularly if its offered up as a desert. I know. weird, but it does. Whenever I reveal this about myself to anyone it is often followed by a sharp draw of breath from others.xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha! I don’t care for it much anymore either, but that’s because of the boys’ pregnancy. I couldn’t eat much of anything with them in utero, esp dairy–one gulp of milk and I’d vomit. After they were born, my appetite for dairy didn’t really return. I don’t mind it every now and again, but if people go out for ice cream, I rarely chime in for m’self. Now cold deli salads? Those I hate, and I get weird looks everytime I say that because they’re such a staple at church potlucks and family functions. They’re gross! Do you know how long that mayo-based nonsense has been in the sun?! Gaaaaah!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I see. I taught graduate school and found the same unfortunate problem. It’s difficult for a writer whose principal world is language to understand how that could be possible.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It really is, especially when one sees errors in basic sentence structures, and then it’s discovered this adult student’s a manager in Company X. How on earth does one get so far without knowing some rudimentary writing skills?

        Like

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