I started blogging in 2008, and this is the first time I’ve participated in a Blog Hop. I don’t even really know what a Blog Hop is, but I’ve been having fun chatting with Karrilee Aggett, my blogging cohort, who invited me to join the fun. Karrilee and I got in some good (although not enough) chat time at the Faith and Culture Writers conference in Oregon earlier this year. I love her. Plain and simple.
This particular Blog Hop is especially timely for me, because I can fill you in a bit on what’s going on with the whole Book Thing, and I get to introduce you to some bloggers you might not know, but who mean a great deal to me.
So, the idea is that I answer four questions and then link to three bloggers who will answer these same questions next week on their websites, and then they will introduce you to three more bloggers. It’s like a chain letter. Without the curse.
1. What am I writing or working on? Well, I’m supposed to be working on a book. And I have been. Or, I was. I worked on it for a good couple of weeks, and then, life happened—all good stuff—and the book writing took a back seat for a while. But, I’m back in the saddle, getting ready to type out some more words, on my way to somewhere in the neighborhood of 55,000 words when it’s all said and done.
Here’s something I found out about writing a book: One of the most dreaded questions is, “What’s your book about?” I’ve asked around, and this seems to be the general feeling among many writers. Not all of them. Some writers have a sixty second elevator pitch with complete details about the summary of their book. But for me, having someone ask that question makes me dizzy and my heart starts skipping beats.
“But, didn’t you write a proposal?” That’s what people ask me when they find out I don’t really have an answer to that first, dreaded question. And yes. Yes I did write a proposal. But still.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? This is actually something the publishers want you to address in your proposal. They want to know how your approach to a particular subject stands out from the rest.
So, to answer this question, let me just say I have no idea what I’m doing. I really don’t. I truly have stumbled into this whole book-writing thing. In other words, I’m no expert. I do, however, believe in the value of my unique story. I haven’t always believed in it. I’d go into Barnes and Noble, look around at all the books and utter this grammatically incorrect statement: “What in the world does anyone need a book written by me for?” And, honestly, I don’t know that anyone does. But what I do know is no one can tell my story the way I can. No one sees the world the way I do. No one else is me. And that’s saying something.
3. Why do I write what I do? It depends. First of all, I like to write. I have always written, and I think it’s something I’ll always do. It’s more than a hobby and, while I may go for long stretches of not writing, I always return. The main reason I write is because I can’t help it. So, sometimes I write to enjoy the process of creating something. Sometimes I write to figure out what’s going on in my head and heart (most of that is private and rarely sees the light of day). One day, when I was still working full-time for an insurance company, my coworker suggested I start a blog, and that’s how this whole thing got started.
But then there’s the other writing.
Going There: I write about race and culture and ethnicity in the North American church because I believe we can do better. I believe, of all the institutions and clubs and networks and organizations in the United States, the church should be leading the charge when it comes to diversity. And not because it’s a nice project, but because the greatest of these is love. I don’t always want to write about these things because, really, who wants to read that stuff? But, I can’t seem to escape it. Every time I think I’ve written my last word on the subject, it’s as if God says, “No. Not yet. The conversation isn’t over.” So, I’ll keep writing about race as long as I’m able.
The High Calling: I love The High Calling. That community stretches me and encourages me to be thoughtful about my faith and about the way I work and live my life in the world. I get to serve as managing editor for The High Calling, which means I have the privilege of working with a team of incredible editors. A few years ago, I tried to leave The High Calling. I wasn’t sure it was the right place for me. I wasn’t sure I fit in. So, I took six weeks off. The amazing thing is, in those six weeks, I realized many of my deepest online connections had been birthed right there in The High Calling network. I deeply believe God doesn’t look at our lives and work as either secular or sacred. He hasn’t built up that wall between the different roles and seasons of our lives. He takes great delight in the rhythms of work, rest, and play, and to God, all of it is holy. I like being part of a team helping to get that message out to the world.
Incourage: Shortly after I started blogging, Stephanie Bryant contacted me with an invitation to write for a new website called (in)courage. I spent many days, praying and fasting to see if I should accept her invitation. No. That’s not true at all. I said “Yes!” right away! Back then, I was timid and shy and pretty much afraid of my own shadow. It was a season in my life and for our family where everything that could go wrong was going wrong, and I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I really didn’t think I had anything to offer anyone. But the (in)courage sisterhood is an amazing force and the gates of Hell are no match for this team of women who wear the word “encourage” as a mandate. Those women built me up, prayed me through, washed my feet (literally), and hugged me back to life. I very much believe I would be lost without them. Every month, I get to write something at (in)courage that I hope helps breathe a little bit of life into women who might need a sweet dose of the medicine those brave women gave me when I needed it most.
And then, there’s The Book, which is just happening. I can’t explain it. I’m not in control of it. For a very long time, it scared me nearly to death. I didn’t want to talk about it. I thought if I didn’t mention it, it would go away. But then, I told you about the thing, and your response was overwhelming. You unlocked something in me. I can feel when you’re praying for me and for the words. I can tell when you’re thinking about me and sending good vibes for the project in my direction. It’s strange and beautiful. What I want you to know is when I sit down to write The Book, it’s been an incredibly intimate experience of dancing with God, who actually is really good at creating things. I can’t explain it, but I really love it. And I am deeply, deeply indebted to you for your partnership on this adventure. Thanks for cheering for me, and praying for me, and sending good thoughts my way.
4. How does my writing process work? People who know me know I’m not very good when it comes to processes. I’m more of an idea person. I don’t have a five year plan, and I’m quite comfortable with that. I think God works with us the way he made us, you know? So, for me to try to do the thing where you look at a deadline and then work back from that, creating a writing schedule on a calendar, or a plan on a spreadsheet would just about kill me with anxiety. I’ve tried that, because I thought it was “the way” writers did things. But, the truth is writers do things the way we do things. Whatever works for you is what works. And, what works for me is waking up each day, stretching my toes to the far reaches of the bedsheets and asking, “Is this a writing day?” Some days the answer is yes, and other days the answer is no.
On a writing day, I write about 1,800 words. I set the timer in the kitchen for one hour and, when the timer goes off, I get up and ride my bike or run on the treadmill for about fifteen minutes (because writing is not an aerobic activity). Then, I set the timer for another hour and write some more. I listen to Pandora (smooth jazz) and try to drink a lot of water. At lunch, I take a peek at Facebook and Twitter, eat a sandwich or a bowl of cereal, and then I set the timer for another hour and write some more.
Sometimes, when I think it’s not a writing day, I’ll be minding my business—pulling weeds, taking a walk, shopping for sandals—and I’ll get an overwhelming urge to write. On those days, I write through the night, into the early morning hours, and I love every minute of it.
But that’s just me. What does your writing process look like?
And now, let me introduce you…
David Rupert is one of the fabulous editors at The High Calling. A few years ago, David and I took the same class at a writing retreat at Laity Lodge. We spent three days in a room as part of a class, overlooking the Frio River, and I think we both needed that experience. David is funny and kind and thoughtful, and I’m honored to call him my friend. Here’s his “official” bio:
David Rupert is a government communications professional. Working and writing from Colorado, he is also a community editor at The High Calling. His next book, Disconnected, will be released next month. Read more from David at RedLetterbelievers.com.
Velynn and I met at the Faith and Culture Writers Conference in Oregon and I was immediately smitten. Velynn served as the emcee for the event, and she told her story of being hesitant the first time she attended a writer’s group where she was the only person of color in the room. Velynn is beautiful and brave and I’ve adopted her as my little sister in the Pacific Northwest.
In her own words: “I love BIG hair, BIG parties, BIG dreams and the BIG God that found me. I am a wife, mother, mentor, sister, friend and daughter. I come from a BIG family, church and community. I have a very BIG heart and a very BIG laugh.”
Tamika showed up in my Twitter feed—all joyful and fun and inspiring. She and I are just getting to know each other, but, like me, I’m pretty sure you’ll be drawn to her adventurous spirit and love for encouraging you to celebrate you. Tamika and her family live in Austria.
From Tamika’s “about” page: “I am a word weaving, doodle drawing, picture painting adventurer! My life’s mission is to travel the world reminding others just how amazing God created them to be. I hope to encourage and inspire others to rise up to become just who God designed them to be.Words are my air, food is my art, music is my heartbeat and people are my passion.”
I do hope you’ll visit these friends of mine and share in the comments about your own writing projects. What’s going on these days, in your journal and on your laptop?