When I sit down to prepare for the incredible task of communicating for God, I keep one thing at the front of my mind: I am smack dab on the front lines of a spiritual war. It’s a war that has raged ever since Satan decided to no longer submit to Almighty God.
Sadly, there have been times in my life when I fought for the wrong side…the losing side. But the love of God, revealed through the Lord Jesus, allowed me the be born-again. To borrow words from Paul’s letter to the Colossians, I’ve been transferred from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of God’s beloved son.
And I want to write stories that show characters in real life situations who experience the hope that God can bring to any life. I do write stories that include darkness, but I do that so that I can show how the light of God can conquer that darkness.
Yes, I believe that my writing is part of the spiritual warfare that is going on beyond the veil. All around us. Every day.
Ready. Aim. Fire.
Yes, it’s true. At one time in my life I was a trash man. I worked for a small city, and one time I was helping another fellow on the trash route. We’d worked together many times and had developed a system that really sped up the route. He’d drive and I’d hang on the back. When we came to trash bags that had been placed at the end of a driveway, Larry–yes, his name was Larry also (stop the Bob Newhart Show references to “I’m Darrel, this is my brother Larry, and this is my other brother Larry” right now!)…anyway, larry would slow down and I’d hold on the truck with one arm and lean out and grab the bags and with one brilliant move I’d flip them into the back of the truck as Larry kept driving. It was a great system that could have revolutionized waste management for all ages. Until…
Let me put it this way: people who put seventy-five pounds of shingles into a black trash bag should be arrested.
So here came Larry & Larry rolling down the street, their fool-proof system of trash collection on display. The next thing I know I’m laying on the ground next to a nearly immovable bag of shingles and wondering what happened. I rolled over on my side to see that the trash truck had come to a stop a couple of house down. The other Larry wasn’t even trying to hide his outburst of unnecessarily loud laughter.
We altered our system from that day forward.
Okay…hold on…here comes the segue: sometimes the writer’s life is like hanging on the back of a moving trash truck chucking trash bags into the back. (Wow, that was a lot of stretching…I think I may have pulled something).
I was embarrassed, but I just got up, dusted myself off, and went on with my job that day. As a writer, some days I get a lot done and other days I feel like I’ve been smacked to the ground by a bag of shingles. On those days I have a decision to make…quit or keep doing my job.
If you are new to this writing thing, I can promise you that there are a few surprises along the route. I endured the embarrassment–along with other demeaning things that come along with being a city worker–because my family was depending on me to bring home a paycheck. As a writer, you have to decide if your motivation for writing is strong enough to overcome the “down” days.
Whatever happens, let me urge you to get back up on the back of the trash truck and roll on.
Have you ever had anyone look at you through squinty eyes, their nose all scrunched up, and ask, “What’s thaaaaat smell?” Maybe you have noticed the offending odor, but have been unable to track down the guilty source. Or perhaps, like a teenager in his own bedroom, your sense of smell has been assaulted to numbness, leaving you unsure of what smell has the questioner’s nose bent out of joint. You might even be a tad embarrassed that you hadn’t noticed the stench before it went public.
Welcome to the writer’s life.
Nooooooo, I don’t mean that writers are smelly creatures, or that the task of writing stinks. What I’m referring to is your manuscript. Wait a minute! Relax that fist and take back what you just said about me and my fat head (my head is normal size, thank you.) And before you waste a perfectly good stove top by spilling tar all over it, let me explain what I meant. Please.
Every writer has stinky parts to their manuscripts. The problem is sometimes–many times, actually–we’ve sat in our own smell so long that we can’t tell roses from rotten eggs. We need to call in an independent nose to give our manuscript an objective sniff or two. Because, like it or not, your manuscript has a few rotten spots. Mine too.
Now, we can sit around and pretend that our manuscripts don’t have pungent issues, or we can let a trained bloodhound follow the trail. Then we can eliminate the problem, and make our manuscripts far more enjoyable for our readers.
Don’ be afraid to expose your manuscript to people who can give you honest feedback. Join a local ACFW chapter or a similar group that encourages members to critique one another. Or develop a stable of first-readers who you can trust. Offer to read other writer’s manuscripts, in order to be of service to them too.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go…something smells.