Hello friends! *still being unable to think of a cool greeting* (Seriously, why do I always have the same sign-off but always a different salutation? 😂)
Anyways… on from that weirdness. Today I figured it was time for a little honest talk. And I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been staring at the blank page for like ten minutes here, trying to figure out the right way to say this. So I’m just gonna come out and say it, lol.
Yup, that’s what I was gonna say.
The truth is I have been feeling quite discouraged lately. And I wasn’t going to say anything about it. But I was thinking about that and realized, I don’t wanna pretend that the writing life is always an easy one. I want to be honest about the struggles as well as the triumphs, because the truth is, being a writer is hard.
LIFE is hard.
And I want this blog to be a place where we can all support each other, and we don’t pretend everything goes smoothly all the time.
Maybe some GIFs can sum this up.
Me thinking about writing:
Me actually sitting down to write:
Of course those GIFs are of Kimmy, ’cause I love Kimmy! XD
But those literally sum up how I feel.
Time for some brutal honesty.
My story is burning up inside me. (Not trying to be dramatic, I PROMISE.) It’s taken my heart captive. Every time I think about it and dream about it and brainstorm for it, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Writing The Apostle’s Sister and The Anointed bring me joy, comfort, and a closeness to God I have never experienced before. And when the words flow from me, it’s like a piece of heaven. It IS a gift from God and all of heaven.
I just love TAS and The Anointed. I can never give up on them, because like I said, they have my heart prisoner. Besides Jesus himself, no one has changed my life or brought me into the sweetness of salvation more than St. Paul. Paul is the person God used above all other writers of the Bible, to draw me into the relationship with Christ I so desperately needed. That’s why when I decided to honor God through my writing, I knew my very first faith-filled book had to be about him.
Then came TAS and The Anointed. And in writing them, I grew even closer to Paul’s heart and the Christ-exalting truths he taught, and which still live on in God’s Word although he himself is waiting in the grave. That in turn drew me into God’s own heart and the beauty of Christ. By writing about Paul as a real person with real feelings just like mine (something I talk about a lot on this blog), I realized I am not alone in anything. And that’s the most liberating thing I’ve ever realized.
But then come the doubts. That I’m not worthy to be writing this beautiful story. Who gave me the authority to write about St. Paul the apostle as a real person?
The thoughts that I will never finish my story, let alone get it published. And I will never have the opportunity to comfort others through my words. Nothing is more heartbreaking, and I want so much to write.
But I sit down and the words won’t come. It’s like agony trying to drag them out. I type about one word into my Word doc every ten minutes.
That’s how I’ve been feeling every day lately, when I sit down and try to write. As a result, procrastination ensues, and self-doubt persists.
It’s tough, y’all.
(Ya got your point across, Joy.)
Right now things are tough for so many people. We’re still riding the waves of a pandemic, and there’s a lot going on. And one thing I wanna say is y’all, you don’t always have to pretend everything’s okay. It’s not complaining. It’s being honest. So thank you guys for letting me do that in this post, knowing everyone will be as kind and supportive as always. Seriously, I started this blog community only two months ago, and already it’s a family! I couldn’t be happier about that, and it really brings me so much encouragement when I read the comments about my story. And someone says they’d like to read it or it would inspire them. That means A LOT!
And I want to return the favor. So if you’re ever having a tough day, writing or life or just whatever; or you just want someone to talk to – I am here!
Yeah, now that I discovered GIPHY I’m of course using Fuller House GIFs. 😂
Okay, now it’s time for some snippets!
Though I didn’t get as much written in The Anointed this week as I wanted, I still want you guys to have some snippets from the very first couple chapters. They ARE very, very first-draft-y, but I hope y’all like them anyway! I want to share the journey of The Anointed, so here’s some of the beginning of it!
Myka begs me to sing with her. I decline and instead tell her to stop throwing sand.
“You’re getting it everywhere. Do you know, Myka….” I know this really is stupid, but I sometimes find myself telling my niece all my thoughts since there’s no one else to tell them to. “I feel something hasn’t been right with my parents ever since we left Miletus.”
This time she does stop throwing sand and listens curiously. That’s what I like best about her. She listens to everything I say.
“They just seem tense around each other,” I muse. “They’ve never been that way before. Mama doesn’t seem to like the idea of Uncle Paul going to Jerusalem. Then again, it doesn’t seem like anyone does. But Mama’s never tried to turn him away from anything before. She agrees with all his decisions. This time, though, it’s different. It’s almost like she’s secretly upset at him.”
Myka’s eyes and mouth hang open.
“I know,” I say. “What do you think is wrong? I haven’t been able to think of an idea. But every place we’ve stopped at, there’s been a lot of crying.” I think of the Ephesian elders at Miletus. After Uncle Paul gave that speech, they all wept aloud and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the children at Tyre. They came to the shore with their parents to see us off, but ended up almost making us stay. They cried and begged my uncle not to go until he looked ready to break. I even saw tears in his own eyes when he blessed them, and I could tell that occasion got my mother really scared. I’ll admit it did unnerve me. I’ve never seen him shed tears in front of me.
Note: Myka was not in the first draft of TAS, so she is a new character! She’s Paul’s grandniece, Temira’s granddaughter, Seth’s niece, and the daughter of Reuben and Mesi. In the first draft, Reuben and Mesi had no children, but I decided to change that. So I hope y’all like Myka. Here’s the next snippet!
Jerusha is eyeing me oddly. She waves at Philip’s home. “Do your father and mother live in that house?”
“I don’t have a father,” I say.
Her eyes widen. “What will you do then? Boys have to have fathers or they can’t do anything. Mamas can’t teach you anything.”
“I don’t… exactly… have a father.” I’ve never given much thought to this before. Uncle Paul has always been the father to me. “Just Uncle Paul. He teaches me.”
“That’s lucky,” she says. “But what happened to your father?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know about your own father?” She shakes her head.
“Did Mama love her husband?”
Reuben looks thoughtfully toward the hills, as if he can see things I can’t. “I think she did, at the end.”
I ponder that. “Why not until then? Haven’t you loved Mesi since you married her?”
“I have,” he says, “but it’s different. I suppose you’re old enough to know that there were – and still are – many who didn’t believe I should have married Mesi.”
“Why not?” I ask, confused.
“Because I’m a Jew, and she is an Egyptian woman. An unclean Gentile.” His laughter sounds irritated. “You and I and our parents are Jews, Seth. Moses’ law forbids intermarriage into other races, which we’re taught to hate. People like Mesi, like Luke, and like Timothy. Even little Myka.”
I’ve always known Reuben’s wife was Egyptian but never even considered that might be unusual. Luke is a Greek, and Timothy is something I’ve heard are called half-breeds. None of this has made any difference to me. “Do you mean to say there are people who hate Myka because she’s dark-skinned?”
When he answers yes, I’m appalled. Who hates a child like Myka? And as I said, I’ve always known Mesi was Egyptian but thought her even more beautiful for her rich skin. I wait for Reuben to go on.
“But when I finally broke down and told Uncle Paul I was in love with an Egyptian girl, I was shocked at his reaction. I thought he would be angry, but instead he went to Mesi’s father. She became my betrothed, and I realized all Uncle Paul and Mother wanted for me was a woman who loved the Lord. It wasn’t that way with Mother’s marriage. She was given to the man of her parents’ choosing.”
So much new information. “Do you mean Mama couldn’t marry someone she loved, the same you married Mesi because you loved her?”
Reuben smiles ruefully. “That’s right. Her father forced her into the marriage.”
This is among the only few things I’ve been told about Mama’s and Uncle Paul’s parents. “Is that why Mama doesn’t talk about him? Her husband, I mean. Did she ever tell you about him?”
“She did once, long ago.”
“What is it like to have a father, Reuben?”
He studies me as if he’s trying to figure out something. “My father died before I was born.”
I’m surprised. I did not know this, because no one thinks to tell me anything. I suppose Reuben and I have something in common – neither of us knew our fathers. But Reuben has a true mother, while Mama only calls me her son. “Who taught you then, Reuben? Je—” I’m about to tell him about Jerusha, but decide against it. For some reason I don’t want anyone to know yet that I’ve actually made a friend. “I mean, I heard someone say that if a boy doesn’t have a father he can’t learn anything, that a mama can’t teach him.”
“Uncle Paul raised me, same as he’s raising you,” Reuben says. “I was three years old when he came to us in Tarsus, just as you were three years old when he and Mama adopted you.”
I know this, of course; Reuben’s told me. Mama and Uncle Paul raised him in Tarsus, their childhood town, for nine years before Uncle Paul began ministry elsewhere. However, something bothers me. The way Jerusha talked about me not knowing my father is nagging at me. What was my father like?
My uncle has peculiarities. He’s a solemn man, whether he’s addressing a synagogue or speaking to me when I go to his lap in the evenings. When he smiles, it’s slow and almost too stoic to be happy. He laughs so seldom that when he does, the sound actually scares me, when nothing else about him scares me at all. His laugh is deep and dry; he doesn’t joke with me as other uncles do with their nephews.
I’m not surprised, though, that he doesn’t have a sense of humor. I don’t see that he has much reason to smile or laugh, either; I certainly don’t and I’ve only been a witness to everything that’s happened. I often wonder if he’s even happy; as I said, his smile doesn’t seem it and he seldom laughs. I wish I could do something to make him happy. My mother, too. Somehow I get the feeling youth was taken quickly from her eyes, though her face and form are like a girl’s. Might it have something to do with Reuben’s father Naboth, as well as everything she’s seen done to her brother?
If anything, though, I seem to bring my parents more grief. I wonder if I imagine it, but it seems Uncle Paul’s eyes are shadowed whenever he looks at me. I wonder if they even wanted another kid to raise. They were too kind not to adopt me, and they’re the first people to ever make me feel loved, but did they want it? If I hadn’t so inconveniently appeared in their lives, would they be happy? Or at least happier than they are now?
I would rather have died from that illness, if my being here causes them unhappiness. I’ve never loved anyone more than I love them, and I’m not what they deserve. Uncle Paul’s mission isn’t what he deserved in the first place, and neither is Mama’s lot in it. I reflect that life – or rather God – hasn’t been very good to my parents.
Okay! I decided to share those three snippets today. If y’all want a snippet or two every week, let me know. Or if you’d rather be kept in suspense, let me know that, too!
All three snippets are very reflective, not a lot of action. That’s because right now I’m trying to get a feel for Seth’s POV. I need to learn about his unique voice, especially since he’s a young child, and it can often be tough to consider what a seven-year-old might be thinking.
And as you can see, I’m using first person present tense for The Anointed! That’s a style I’m not used to, so it’s a fun challenge. And it works better for delving into the mind of a child – it helps me get deeper into Seth’s thoughts. So I’m getting a feel for that as well.
Later, though, I will change it so there’s much more action in the first chapters. If I left it as it is right now, it would be way too boring. Those snippets aren’t the most exciting, and probably weren’t the most interesting for you to read, but I hope you liked catching a glimpse of The Anointed in the making!
Before I close, though, I’m going to give y’all a little snippet from TAS! These small paragraphs are actually some of my favorites in TAS, and I haven’t shared them yet, so I decided to do that now. Hope you guys enjoy!
The Lord himself had caught her brother up to the third heaven. Paul had seen this for himself. When she must tell him the news, she would comfort him with those words, as he had commanded the Thessalonians.
Temira gave thanks to God for Paul, for without him Reuben would have had a sorrowful childhood as they did, and she wouldn’t have Seth at all. She blew a kiss of prayer from her lips to the Antonia Fortress where he was being held. The Lord Jesus Christ was with him.
She did not know that indeed, the Lord was with him. She did not know that at this very moment in the fortress, Jesus Christ stood in shining glory with his comforting hand on her weeping brother’s shoulder, saying to him, “My beloved servant, do not be afraid.”
That last paragraph literally gives me a chill. Just imagining Jesus standing there in his full-blown glory, with Paul in his cell, is just… chills! And Temira gazing at the prison, praying that Jesus will keep her brother safe, not knowing that Jesus himself is LITERALLY standing… right… there… in plain sight… comforting Paul. CHILLS!
I love that part in the book of Acts – it brings tears to my eyes. I’m actually going to insert those verses here, because it’s Jesus’ promise to us as well as to Paul. He always comforts. And he’ll give me the courage to write my story, just as he gave Paul courage to keep preaching while in chains.
I love the King James Version of these verses, because the fancy old language gives me even MORE chills! XD So here’s fancy King James for ya:
And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.– Acts 23:11 (KJV)
That’s a good note to end on.
You know the drill – eat, pray, write, repeat!