Monthly Archives: February 2010

A Change of Focus — or More Accurately — A Split

I wrote this in another blog yesterday:

I’m in serious trouble here, folks.

Serious.

I caught a bug, or I should say it caught me, and there’s no getting rid of it.

It hit me early this morning (for some reason I awoke at 3:45 am and couldn’t get back to sleep) when I started perusing the 17 volume Time Life photography collection my father-in-law sent me. Even though they were written in the 70s there’s a goldmine of information such as how to take pictures of children and the inner workings of cameras and lenses.

I realized then how long it will take me to read all those books and apply what I’ve learned.

When will I have time to write — short of getting up at 4am every day?

I fear I’m not a writer anymore. I’m a shutter bug instead. Winning the photography contest and losing a writing contest hasn’t helped any. The worst part is I’m not certain it’s a bad thing.

At the same time I don’t want to allow my new love of photography take the place of my love of writing. I doubt I will, the more I think about it, but I can’t help but wonder.

What I need is discipline (Ha!) and set aside time each day for both.

Since then I decided to create yet another blog on what I’m learning about photography, both when it comes to the equipment and technique. Little did I realize when I first bought my prosumer (a point-and-shoot camera with manual capabilities) that it would suck me in to the point I ache to learn more. Expecting the camera to do all the work isn’t enough for me. I want to be able to control the lighting, coloring, depth-of-field, etc, and use them in creative ways.

So I will be doing a lot of reading and practicing, and to keep up with my writing, I will share what I’ve learned. I will also share my successful photos, perhaps even my failures.

Mostly, I want to share the infinite creativity in God’s creation, large and small.

The new blog is called “To Be or Not to Be — A Photographer“.

I hope to see you there, both to share in my journey and provide any insights you may have.

Well That’s a Bummer

The results of the ABNA (Amazon Breakout Novel Award) came out, and out of 5000 entries, mine ended up near the bottom 4000. No next round for me.

Oh, well.

There are other contests, other publishers, other books.

Speaking of which, I should get back to it. I have some editing to do as well as continue the brainstorming/preliminary structure of my next novel. Although, I could spend a few moments and lament my poor fortune and scream to all who don’t care that I’m a terrible writer after all, blah, blah, blah.

But I won’t. The contest was decided by three people. As far as odds go, that’s not enough to drag me down. There are other editors and other publishers out there who will like my stuff.

It’s finding them that’s the hard part, and I was hoping to avoid that hard part with the contest.

I should no better. After 40 years of life, I have yet to learn God’s lesson that his path is never easy, never short . . . but always worth the trip.

I want what I want, I want it now, and I don’t want to work for it, dang it!!

Yeah, I feel God rolling his eyes, too.

I Want to Cry

GrandPrizeWinnerOn a whim, last week I entered this photo into a photography contest held by a local camera shop (Bob’s Photo) on their Facebook page. The theme: Winter Wonderland.

Considering some of the quality entries, I figured I would make maybe the top three. Out of over 40 entries, that was an audacious claim.

A few minutes ago, a gal who works for said camera shop tagged my photo with “Grand Prize Winner.”

I must admit I want to cry. Out of all the contests I’ve entered of late, both for photography and writing, this is the first one I won. The prize is a 16×24 Canvas Gallery Wrap (whatever that is) of my winning photo or a different one if I want — valued at $100.

I still can’t wrap my mind around it yet. Although I really like the photo, I never considered it one of my best. I picked that one out of all the other possibilities because of its uniqueness.

I think now it won partly because it wasn’t a typical winter wonderland photo — especially compared to the other entries. That’s not to knock any of them, because there were some quality entries that made me wonder how I could dare to compete with them.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to happy dance. I can’t do that and type at the same time. Buh-bye!

Yet Another Contest?

ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) holds an annual novel contest called Genesis. It’s for any member who’s never published a novel (excluding self-published).

I decided to submit “Traitors” for consideration; the first 15 pages due by March 31.

Why enter yet another contest?

Because it’s a lot easier than writing up a proposal including the query letter, synopsis, et al. *Shudder*

What’s the prize? In each category (such as contemporary romance, YA and speculative) the winner will receive a plaque and first choice of editor/agent appointments at the 2011 ACFW National Conference. Runner ups will receive a certificate. I don’t care so much if I win (yeah, right), but I would like to know if my story is a good one. Sure I’ve had a few people read the first few chapters, but so far no agents/publishers. Even if I don’t make the next round, I will receive a scoresheet showing where my manuscript succeeded and/or failed. Even better, the judges are either publishers or agents. That alone is worth the price of admission at $35.

And if I do make the next round, but not the final (or end up a runner up), I can use it for bragging rights should I force myself to write up proposals/queries for other publishers and agents.

Hmm. I must be a fan of parentheses today.

The Third Excuse

Another reason I hate (and I mean hate) asking others to pray for me is pride.

Admitting I have a problem and need help is exposing my weaknesses to everyone around me. It’s admitting I can’t do something on my own; that I don’t have any answers.

My last entry is a perfect example. I humbled myself before you, and less than twelve hours later I wanted to delete it.

In a country — perhaps the world — people are given praise for rising above their challenges without the help of others, especially an unseen God.

Do I not write well because I practice at it? Do I not have a child because my husband and I sought out a doctor to make it possible? Do I have a job where I make a decent living because I worked (no pun intended) at it for the last eighteen years?

Where was God in all that?

If he played no part in those things, why go to him now over something as simple as a skin disease?

Because for me I reached a breaking point. I can’t stand the pain anymore. I’ve tried the drugs, I’ve tried the creams, I’ve tried eliminating all perfumes and dyes from everything that touches my skin.

Yet still it persists.

As I noted in a comment to LK in the previous entry, that it’s stress related I have no doubt.

Eliminating that stress is another matter entirely. I’m no good at eliminating stress when it’s stress that drives me.

Maybe it’s not prayer I need after all.

Worthless for Prayer

I’ve never been good at prayer, even praying for others.

Sure, I talk to God a lot; hardly a day passes when I don’t at least think about him.

But the on-my-knees fervent prayer? I can’t remember the last time when I felt moved to pray my heart out of my chest for myself or anyone else.

That makes asking for prayer from others all the more difficult. Part of me feels too unworthy to presume God will listen let alone care what this measly person wants or needs.

Certainly God has better things to do.

It’s made all the less likely I will ask when my needs are so small and even petty compared to others.

There are two things wrong with this attitude:

1. Of course I’m unworthy! Not a single person is worthy of God’s attention, let alone his grace. Yet he showers us with it anyway for no other reason than because He loves us. To turn down the opportunity for him to give us what we need, and sometimes what we want, insults him.

2. God does not compare me or my needs to others, therefore my needs are equally important to him as everyone else’s needs.

I compared prayer once years ago to a warehouse. By not asking God or asking others to pray for me, I’m going on the assumption that answers to prayer are finite and they should be “saved up” for the really big requests.  I don’t want to empty that warehouse with my little stuff when they could be used for greater needs.

But the Bible says that prayer perpetuates itself. The more we pray, especially with others, the more God turns his ear.

Plus the Bible says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Phillipians 4:6)

One of my favorite people in the New Testament is Paul. He was always honest, especially with regard to his own weaknesses. Nor did he hold back in asking for prayer from others. He knew he needed it in order to complete God’s work.

So by not praying or asking for prayer — even for the little things — can I really complete the tasks God gives me?

The best reason of all to pray and to ask for it is the continual growth of my relationship with Jesus.

That said, I ask for your prayers this evening. When I was sixteen and gave my heart to Jesus, I also gave him my hands. I was writing a lot at that time, and quite by accident discovered it was my best way of praising and worshipping him. I wanted that to continue, so I gave him my hands to do with as he pleased.

In the last six months, my right hand has broken out with a semi-severe case of eczema. I can type okay,  but writing with a pen or pencil is at times uncomfortable, other times near impossible.

I want my hand back.

I also want God to show me how I can worship and praise him better — with or without my hands. After all, they belong to God, not me. If the eczema must stay, I pray for the strength and will write through the pain.