Tag Archives: fiction writing

A Journey To Remember

My daughter, Jayne, and I have gone many places together. And we’ve repeatedly died.

Often our demise has been chalked up to extreme temperatures. Then there were the times when we accidentally shot ourselves while hunting for food…irinically so we wouldn’t starve to death. Trying to cross flooded rivers has done us in more than once too. And even when we’ve managed to survive these things, we’ve had to stop and bury other members of our traveling party who didn’t. And usually those who are dead or dying have been sick with scurvy, cholera, or other ailments. Then there were those nasty “bites”…mosquito bites, snake bites, and frostbite. Icky.

We’ve encountered flooded trails, polluted water, broken wagons, prairie fires, harsh thunderstorms, blinding blizzards, gnawing hunger, exhausting thirst, blocked roads, steep paths, wild animals, quicksand, dust-storms, high mountains and relentless deserts. Also, we’ve had to deal with ill-tempered travelers, injured draft animals and high prices at hole-in-the-wall trading posts. Double yuck.

I can imagine some people turning to their spouses and saying, “We’re never going anywhere with the Timm family. I’d rather go visit your mother!”

Don’t worry. Jayne and I experienced these journeys from the comfort of our home while playing Oregon Trail on the computer. It’s a game that provides an educational–if not terror-filled–journey demonstrating what early settlers underwent and overcame to reach a new home and start new lives.

Good writing takes a reader on a journey too. Maybe they are emotionally connected to a character or curiosity keeps them turning the pages or a sense of unsatisfied justice makes them need to see what happens to the villain. And the reader is on a journey of our making. And it better be believable. Because time is precious. There had better be something for their heart and mind to embrace. They have to feel a strong need to continue–even finish–the journey with you.

And, as a writer, I want them to make it to the end…better for the journey.

Answer this question: what keeps you turning the pages of a book?

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Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, Writing

What is “Success”?

As I sit here in a hotel room and type this post, there’s a realization tugging at me: I need to be clear on how I define “success”. To apply this to the writer’s conference that I’m currently attending (the American Christian Fiction Writers conference), I’m praying that I stay focused on how blessed I am to be here.

I do have several concrete goals I’d love to achieve while here, but sometimes writers can be “all or nothing” people. We come to conference with a list of goals/dreams, and the temptation is to walk away feeling discouraged because we weren’t able to check them all of our list. The tragedy in that mentality is that we’ve set ourselves up for failure since achieving all of our goals with crisp perfection is impossible. So when (not “if”) the first disappointment comes, the rest of the conference is endured and not enjoyed.

The other mistake is to have a prioritized list of goals, where the goals lower down the list are dependent on the ones at the top of the list. When this happens, we are unable or unwilling to fully embrace the lower goals with a mindset of gratitude. We don’t thank God for them because they’re not “the real” big goals–the ones that really count.

I think Christian writers have the ability–because of the Spirit that’s within us–to be able to see the whole picture. It’s simply a matter of whether or not we use that ability. Such an attitude of gratitude won’t happen accidentally. It must be intentionally nurtured every day.

The fact is:  just being here at the conference is an achievement for which to be thankful. Here are some other signs that the conference is a success:

  • You’re able to reconnect with old friends
  • New friends become a part of your life
  • You realize that we have great food and plenty of it (much of the world would love to trade places with us).
  • You were used by God to encourage another person
  • You listened when God said “no”, even though it wasn’t on your list
  • You learned something that will make you a better person, and a better writer
  • You met writers you admire

These are just a few. Notice that “getting a contract” or “getting an agent” isn’t in the above list. Do I want those things? ABSOLUTELY! But even if they don’t happen while I’m here, this conference has already been a success.

How do you define success as a writer? As a person?

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Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, Writing