Insight is defined as the faculty of seeing into inner character or underlying truth. As a writer I must constantly look beyond outward appearances to seek the truth, the inside story. Like the rings of a tree, the story is hidden. I learned this lesson recently at a dinner party.
“I have a lot of stories,” my dinner companion said leaning forward over her plate. The party around us seemed to recede and her eyes grew more intense, “Yes, I have many, many stories.” She didn’t look like a woman with “stories.” There was no indication in her smart dress and pulled together look that she had led anything but a charmed life. But there were the stories.
She told of growing up in an eastern European country and being exiled with her mother and grandmother at the age of two. Between bites of broiled salmon and cranberry salad she told a story of her mother, a pianist, spending ten years in a labor camp. And then she told the story of her separation from her own daughter who was in the United States when martial law was declared. Three years later she saw her daughter again. Time stood still as we talked.
Hidden within a tree, each ring symbolizes a year of life. Years of drought, the ring is small. Years of plenty, the ring is wider. We hold inside of us our stories, the thin rings, the thick rings. The good times, the bad times are written in our brains and in our hearts.
“I have many. many more stories,” my new friend said as she left and I knew she had spoken for us all.
May I always look beyond appearances to see the inside story.
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
Betsy Duffey writingsisters.com
I thank my God every time I remember you.
The table is set, a feast is prepared. Empty seats wait for guests. If we could give a feast of gratitude and fill the seats with those to whom we owe thanks, who would we invite?
As a writer I need to remember that my ability, creativity, and the practice of my craft has been shaped and molded by others. As a reader I remember that I have been transformed by the presentation of truth in the efforts of writers who have come before me. I am thankful for each of them.
I’m thankful for my mother who showed me perseverance in a writer’s life by faithfully writing through eleven years of rejections. For Corrie Ten Boom who taught me about forgiveness. For Catherine Marshall who taught me that prayer was real and possible. For C.S. Lewis who showed me that theology can be read and enjoyed. For JRR Tolkien who showed me the power and truth in story. For A.W. Tozer who wrote on his knees and Oswald Chambers who gave his life to follow his calling. For Watty Piper who taught me that I could, and Margaret Wise Brown who made it safe to say “Goodnight”.
Many writers lived, worked and sacrificed before my time, gifted by the grace of God. They have helped me to move forward.
Thank you. Thank you.
The table is set. Empty seats are waiting. Who would you invite?
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Sir Isaac Newton
Betsy Duffey writingsisters.com
“I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.”
I’ve been in a critique group for 20 years. It is one of my most valuable assets as a writer. Through the years people have come and gone in our group and I’ve seen different reactions to criticism. Some soak it in, jotting down notes and asking questions for clarity. Others become defensive and discouraged. I’ve reacted both ways.
How do you respond to criticism – not just in your writing, but also in your Christian life? Perhaps the criticism is from a person, or maybe the Spirit of God is revealing areas of sin. Does criticism send you into a downward spiral, thinking you are a “bad” person?
Not many of us will get better (in our writing or life) without some critique. So how do we respond positively, avoiding the downward spiral?
First – Start with the gospel. (For God so loved …John 3:16) As Christians we tend to think the gospel only relates to our salvation. But the gospel is so much more, and can be applied throughout your life.
When you receive criticism, remember: You are loved! That’s the gospel. Think of all the wonderful “R” words in the Bible: redeem, reconcile, restore, recover, resurrect, renew, return, regenerate. God wants to continue to do those things in your life because He loves you. Embrace opportunities to “consider your ways”.
And what about writing? If you’re not in a critique group, I encourage you to join one. Embrace opportunities to “consider” your manuscript and apply some of those “R” words, including the biggest “R” word of all for writers … rewrite.
Laurie Myers, writingsisters.com
Submission means to yield to the power or authority of another.
As a writer to submit means the moment of terror that I experience when I drop the envelope into the mail slot or hit send on my computer. Submission means judgment of my work. I love the story of E.B.White begging the mailman to return his just sent manuscript. I have felt the same desire to hold on one more day.
Can we write with the spirit of submission to God? What difference would it make to start with submission, instead ending with submission. If I can submit the work to God first then the fear of submitting to man disappears.
Catherine Marshall writes in Adventures in Prayer about this Godly submission during the writing of her first book, A Man Called Peter.
About midway in the manuscript, I received devastating criticism from one whose judgment I trusted. He told me bluntly, “You haven’t even begun to get inside the man Peter Marshall,” And he was right, that was the sting of it. The realization of my inadequacy as a writer was not only an intellectual one. It was also emotional; there were plenty of tears. But out of the crisis came a major realization.
In my helplessness, there was no alternative but to put the project into God’s hands. I prayed that A Man Called Peter be His book, and that the results be all His too. And they were.
The book was published and sold millions of copies all around the world. My best writing comes when I give up control of the results and begin to see my books as God’s books.
May I write today with submission.