Friday, March 03, 2006

Make 'Em Sweat

Do you ever get the impression that God treats us the way we treat our characters? Let me explain what I mean by that. Maybe others don’t plot this way, but for me, one of the key elements in crafting a book is understanding my characters. I need to know two things about them to plot the book. One, what do they want more than anything in the world? Maybe even something they won’t admit to themselves. Two, what do they fear most? What secret do they hide? What wound are they trying to cover up? And mean person that I am, I make my characters go through that fear, that secret, that wound to get what they want most in the world.

Sometimes I think God is like that with us, though usually not so mean, and generally He takes a lifetime rather than 95,000 words. But I guess it’s human nature to want to make a cozy nest out of our comfort zones until life gives us a rude shove out. Our characters are no different, except that we authors get to do the shoving. It’s way more fun to do that to other people than to have it done unto you. Caveat: only shove people who live in your head. Doing it to real life people can be messy.

I’ve been thinking about this a little bit this week since, just as I thought I was getting my life back into its routine, I hurt my back and have been relegated to the couch. I like my routine. It’s my favorite weapon in the battle against the chaos that constantly threatens to envelop this household. And lately it’s been taking a beating. Between extra stuff at church, taxes, the yard, and who knows what else, I’ve felt like I’ve been playing catch-up and yet never quite catching up.

And then yesterday, not only did I wake up with a sore back, I got an interesting little publishing-biz wrinkle I had to iron out that ended up being quite time consuming.

So as usual, I start complaining to God. Some days I’m sure I really annoy Him. Heck, I annoy myself. “Hey, what’s the deal here? I thought I asked you for more hours in the day, not more problems.” We’ve been having this conversation for a couple of weeks. What do I keep, what do I cut, how do I make my life feel less out of control. It’s not really out of control, it just feels that way to me. And we all know, life is all about my feelings.

But He hasn’t been giving me any answers on this. Which I find very odd. Instead He said, “What are you afraid of?”

Uh oh. Smart person that I am, I know where this is going. I do this to my characters. They don’t like it, but it’s good for them. I don’t like it either, but I suspect it’s going to be good for me.

And ultimately, once again I’m humbled by this calling to be a writer. It seems to me a unique privilege God has given us to peek into His mind, to in some small way replicate in our story world what He does in our lives. Words are important to Him. He could have created the universe in any number of ways, but He used words. The book of John tells us Jesus is the Word made flesh. And He’s given us those same tools to create with. Not sure why, but I’ve got to trust that He knows what He’s doing and step out despite my fear.


michael snyder said...

Very cool. Great insight and truth packed in there. I hope you're back feels better and it sounds like you used the super duty iron on that wrinkle!

Now I'm going to shove one of my characters into a major 7-figure publishing know, just to see what happens.

Jeanne Damoff said...

Well said, Jen. Isn't it great to know the author and perfecter of our faith possesses infinite wisdom and unfailing grace? Our characters should be so blessed.

I do trust God's ways, but I also tremble a little when I ask for "more time in the day" or "more patience" or anything else that will most likely be gained by testing.

I pray you learn your lessons quickly, your back heals before the house self-destructs (Calvin destructs?), and your soul is wrapped in supernatural peace.

(Mike, 50 points for shoving your character into big publishing bucks. That's awesome.)

Happy Saturday.

Jen's "bubbly" hubby said...

Asking God for more time in the day? No way! That just means more time to do housework, yardwork, cook, clean. etc. etc.

I'm praying for God to heal my wife's back. This housework is killing me!

...oh oh. Where's Calvin...

Jenny said...

Man, you are good with the word thing!

And it is just what I needed to hear (read). So like God to do something for/with you that is also for others. But isn't that the purpose behind our words--to glorify God and point others in His direction? And you are doing that very well!

Hang in there girl. Don't put your back out on the Potter's Wheel.

You're in my prayers.

Abundant blessings!

Sabrina L. Fox said...

I wrote a devotional once about how I must exasperate God. I can just see him up there shaking his head asking "When is that girl going to get it?"

The bottom line is He wants what's best for us...we just have a tendency to fight Him along the way. Great post, Jen. Made me think. Oh and I'm still praying for speedy answers for you. Have a stress free weekend.

Malia Spencer said...

Well put. This is a great reminder. Ever notice that your life may mirror what you plan for your character? Like God puts your through it so you know what they are going through? That's what I'm seeing in my life.

I'm praying that you get your answers, your back heals, Calvin calms down and doesn't wreck the house while you're just a little out of comission. Hang in there woman! It will get better, I promise.

Dineen A. Miller said...

I know what you mean, girl. A devotional I read this week said a similar thing. God did not intend us to live easy lives. The trials mold us, but often the everyday struggle with life and ourselves is the most tiring and difficult of all.

Jennifer Tiszai said...

See what happens when the only comfortable place is the egonimically-correct chair at my desk? What do you all think of the new look? Better? Worse?

It's less pink and matches my web site which is what I was going for. Updated my web site too. First chapter of Promise is up there for anyone who wants to check it out. And did some writing.

Jenny said...

Looks great, Jen. And you've got my vote for most tenacious :-) Heading over to read the chapter now.
Abundant blessings!

Malia Spencer said...

I like the new look. Good job with the coding. :)