I’m coming to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with me just as there’s nothing wrong with you when your actions don’t fit what may seem expected or obvious or when you leave opportunity on the table in favor of something more meaningful to you at the time. You aren’t missing out, and neither am I.
When it comes to creativity, personal development, spiritual formation and life with God, your pace is your pace and there’s no such thing as behind.
— Emily P. Freeman
I am a goal setter and a dreamer. I want to live a life rich with meaning. These good things sometimes plague me with their demands, especially when it comes to my work. As a person who loves to measure change and chart progress, I unwittingly ratchet up expectations: When I’ll finish a draft. What I’ll tackle this month. The new projects I’ll begin this year. The old ones I’ll complete. What I’m saying is I can be relentless. I’m not always my own encourager and friend.
When there’s progress in my work, that growth often comes with conditions. It’s sometimes hard for me to appreciate if it happens outside the timeframe I intended or unfolds differently than I first hoped. I’m quick to despair and fret and worry, and whew, it wears me out.
I love the gracious words Emily Freeman speaks. Her thoughts aren’t new or revolutionary. I’ve posted similar sentiments here before. But if you, like me, need a reminder that life and creativity are not a race, I invite you to take a deep breath.
May you face whatever is before you in your time. On your terms. Without condemnation but with the freedom to enjoy — even celebrate.
Writing is a very silly business at best. There is a certain ridiculousness about putting down a picture of life. And to add to the joke — one must withdraw for a time from life in order to set down that picture. And third one must distort one’s own way of life in order in some sense to simulate the normal in other lives. Having gone through all this nonsense, what emerges may well be the palest of reflections. Oh! It’s a real horse’s ass business. The mountain labors and groans and strains and the tiniest of rodents comes out. And the greatest foolishness of all lies in the fact that to do it at all, the writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. An he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true. If he does not, the work is not worth even what it might otherwise have been.
— John Steinbeck, Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters
Read more quotes I enjoyed from the book here.
This is perhaps the least punchy blog title of all time (and for some of you a similarly dull topic), but to me it’s fascinating! To those who are intrigued, read on.
For years, I’ve held a continuum in my head, a way to classify historical fiction divided into five categories, with a new sixth category recently added in. After talking to Augusta Scattergood about this idea*, she asked me to blog about the continuum. So here we go.
The first category in my continuum I call history light. May B. falls into this one. It’s a story with a specific historical setting (time and place) but includes no historical event or people. On the other end would be a novel like Melanie Fishbane’s Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery. Not only does Maud center on a real person and is full of real events, Melanie had to be granted permission to even write the story! I’d classify a book like this as a five.
For those interested, I’ve called Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine a two and Blue Birds a three. Both have a specific setting and specific historical events. Jasper mentions historical figures, but I took liberties with the few I brought to life. With Blue Birds I had to go a step further and develop both personalities and motivations for minor characters who were nevertheless based on real people — a bit of a daunting task.
I have a future novel idea I’ve wanted to tackle for years but have avoided for a couple of reasons. I haven’t felt mature enough as a writer to try it yet. For one, it covers a good chunk of time. For another, it’s a level four-book — one with a specific setting, event, and characters who are the story’s major players. Just thinking about it makes me a bit nervous, but wow, it will be really satisfying to take on someday.
Recently I’ve added one more level that falls to the left of number one — history ultra light — moving the range from 0-5. This is the sort of book my new novel, Miraculous, is shaping up to be. Not only is there no specific historical event or people, it’s not anchored in a specific time and place. It’s in the past and deals with events that could have only taken place in a different era. Its set in the midwest (though this is never stated), in the late 1800s. That’s as specific as I get. Though I want to give the sense the story could have happened anywhere during a broad swath of time, I still had quite a bit of research to do, not about the setting but medicine shows and and cure-alls and charlatans.
I’m curious! For those of you who read or write historical fiction, have you ever thought about the genre in these ways?
* Augusta and I decided most of her books fit in category one, history light.