Browsing "Writing"
Dec 2, 2017 - Writing    1 Comment

Winner!

November is over. December is here!

While most people’s focus is turned toward Christmas, mine is captured reflecting on the accomplishments of November.

I completed the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) — admittedly with some modifications. Instead of writing 50,000 words of a novel in November, I kept track of all the words I wrote for work, school, and life for a month. This 207 page document is admitted disjointed and a strange read, but it chronicles the efforts that took up my time for a month of life. Filled with deep occupational therapy theory, short journaling snippets, and Bible study insights, this “novel” is absolutely unpublishable, but delightful nonetheless.

With a grand total of 50,041 words, I am a NaNoWriMo Winner!

www.nanowrimo.org

It helped that my school papers were due December 1 so those lengthy term papers pushed me over the edge (word count wise, and sanity wise!). I typically move right onto the next thing in life, but today I’m taking time to reflect, be thankful, and stand in wonder of the work that is now finished.

Here’s to November! And writing! And reflecting on what I’ve accomplished with perseverance and grit, even while I look forward to what is to come.

Nov 4, 2017 - Writing    No Comments

NaNoWriMo

Yes, that is not gibberish and is a correct title.

NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. Every November, writers from around the world start pecking away at keyboards everywhere at a pace of exactly 1,667 words a day. The goal is just to write. The organizers of this challenge do not worry about quality, their goal is to encourage the creative act of writing. You win if you’ve completed 50,000 words at the end of November. Upload your work into the word count validator, and voila! You are a winner. No editing or revision required. They hope to train future writers to make good habits, build stamina, and just write. As one of my favorite authors told me years ago, “Writers write. Editing and publishing are two totally different skills”. That’s the heart of NaNoWriMo. I’ve always wanted to do this challenge!

nanowrimo.org

 

I love the thought of churning out nearly 2,000 words a day of thoughts, plot, action, and inner thoughts. I love the challenge. I love the community in this challenge together. And I am a sucker for medals and prizes!

So I’ve added this challenge to my life… sort of.

There is no way I can add novel writing to my to-do list currently. I work; I volunteer; I run (occasionally), and I am earning my doctorate. I cannot author a novel as well.

So I’m keeping track of my own challenge this year. Everything I write for the month of November is being loaded into one document. Every email, every blog post, every term paper, every discussion board post, all compiled into one strange document. I warn you in advance — It would be an absolutely terrible novel to read. There will be no character foils or foreshadowing or literary devices. It would instead be an odd autobiography of a month in the life of Kelly. What preoccupied my thoughts in November of 2017? What was I studying? Who did I write to? What epiphanies did I experience in my work? Will I reach the 50,000 word count goal?

This is a thought experiment for me. Will my words be an appropriate summary of my life this month? If I read my “novel” ten years from now would it bring back memories of this time in my life? How does it make me feel to be the main character of my peculiar novel? Even though there won’t be planned plot lines or vivid verbs chosen, there will be character development and plot, because it is a record of my lived life. I am constantly changing, learning, growing, and processing. My odd novel is just one way to capture the changes that happen around me and within me all the time. God is the Author of my world. He is writing a beautiful story in my life. I am just more aware of this truth than normal because of this challenge. With that thought, maybe that would be a cool novel to read after all!

Happy National Novel Writing Month! I’ll give you my word count at the end of the month!

Mar 19, 2017 - My Story, Writing    No Comments

My Lenten Addition

Lent.

A season of deprivation and anticipation for 40 days prior to Easter. Lent is a time of focus and expectancy. It is a tradition in Christianity to mark seasons and adjust our routines based on the calendar. I tend to have a long period of anticipation prior to Christmas as outside factors help remind me of what is coming. Retailers, advertisers, and list-making family members reinforce my anticipation for Christmas, but Lent to me is more personal, more introspective, more private. Lent is a time of internal preparation before the highest of holy days. There is much less external pressure to conform. No house decorations need be organized and few presents are purchased, but Christmas means nothing without Easter. Therefore, I celebrate Lent.

Many choose to go without and give up something dear, tasty, or expensive to train their hearts to be grateful with less. Chocolate, coffee, ice cream, and alcohol are among the Lenten sacrifices that I hear mentioned most often. Forfeiting something delicious can, if used properly, refocus your heart on the goodness in Christ. Every good gift comes from God above, therefore, longing for something good can remind us of God.

I’ve given up items in the past, but in more recent years, I’ve switched from subtracting something good to adding something good instead. I’ve added stillness, restfulness, or play. Every year I take stock of something needed in my life and concentrate on that for forty days.

This year I’ve added connection.

My life often feels like it is busting at the seams and barely being held together by frayed duct tape. I need to feel the support and love of others, or such a season is a long and lonely road. I need people. I need time with friends. I need moments of connection to balance my ever-growing to do list. This Lenten season, I am seeking to connect with others through cards or text messages or phone calls or lunch dates. Oftentimes I have just a few minutes before my class starts at night, but that is enough time to write a “just because” note to a loved one. On Ash Wednesday, I set out forty cards on my desk. My goal is that they would be written in and handed out by Easter.

This year, I hope to provide moments of connection for myself and for others. And that is the biggest difference in my experience between choosing to subtract for Lent versus choosing to add. In my experience, subtracting something good has challenged and stretched me, but adding something good has blessed me and others. My prayer is that such a goal would be true as we walk the valley of Lent in preparation for the celebration of Resurrection Sunday.

Do you celebrate Lent? What do you choose to subtract or add?

Mar 14, 2017 - Devotional, Writing    No Comments

The Story of Life

How many people would want to read a book that started like this?

“Once upon a time there was a princess. She was beautiful and everyone loved her and life always went her way all the time…”

Where’s the conflict? Where’s the reason for the story? Where’s the character development?

Plus, if this princess had no struggles or conflict and always got what she wanted, I doubt her kingdom would continue to love her for long.

And yet, that’s what I always imagined my life story would sound like. I imagined that I would work hard and enjoy things in life that were good and be loved by all those around me. I’ve had to come to terms first with the fact that this is not my life story and secondly that I am thankful that it is not!

Struggle is part of the story. It should be. Struggle makes us grow, change, persevere, show grit, and develop as people. Authors know this well. Every character needs a conflict, rising action, and a climax in order to become the character they were meant to be. Why would I expect a different plan from the Author of my life?

The struggle is an integral part of the story. I benefit from some struggle. I become a fuller and more developed character when I am stretched, pressed, disappointed, persevering, courageous, and vulnerable. Struggle allows me to be refined into something even better. My goal is to struggle well. To be honest with the struggles and share them like my pile of beans! To know that God does not waste pain or time or barriers. Characters need a contest, a conflict, a barrier or a strain to overcome. It makes for strong literature. It makes for strong people too.

Legacy

“Kelly, what will your legacy be?”

That question as posed to me recently at work. We had a department-wide meeting during which we made a “legacy quilt”. We were each charged to write a sentence on a square of decorative paper which would be knit together to form a paper quilt of quotes and desires.

One sentence.

One phrase.

Once idea.

That’s all the space we had!

I’ve practiced occupational therapy for a decade. I was in grad school for years. I have worked with hundreds of patients of all ages and I just get one sentence to encompass all of that?!

As a writer, this was an especially challenging task– after all, words are my friends! I want to use them, as many as possible! I wasted several sheets trying to write the longest, most hyphenated, run-on sentence ever created in order to jam pack the more ideas into my small paper square.

But that’s not what I really wanted. Medical jargon doesn’t change lives. My skills and metrics are important and I should consistently work on them, but they aren’t my legacy. My employment epitaph shall not read, “Kelly knew every trigger point release in the upper trunk.”

It shall not read, “Kelly achieved productivity every day.”

It shall not read, “Kelly read more peer-reviewed articles than anyone else in the department.”

No. I finally knew what I wanted my legacy quilt to say. It was so simple, I don’t know why I’d tried to hard to write such a complicated sentence! In the end my paper simply read, “Life Matters.”

That’s what I want my legacy to be. People are important. People have dignity. People are made in the Image of God and are worthy of my best efforts every day. I want this to be true for every infant, child, family member, coworker and person with whom I interact.

Hello, dear reader. You are important! You matter!

images-1

“The future is purchased by the present.” Dr. Samuel Johnson

What will your legacy be?

Feb 16, 2015 - My Story, speaking, Writing    1 Comment

Seeking Rest for my Soul

I hear voices.

Well, one in particular. It whispers to me that it is unsatisfied with my work, my efforts, my productivity, and my choices. It tells me lies. It tells me that I have to do more and be more. That I have to earn rest and that work is always more important than rest.

Do you hear a similar voice inside your head that tells you to do more and to be more?

I shared my voice with these ladies last weekend at the Hays Hills Baptist Church Women’s Retreat and they understood. They didn’t scoff at my voice. They were acquainted with this voice and its lying words too well already. We don’t know how to rest well, or be still as a society. We might have periods of inactivity, but our minds, hearts, and souls continue to churn.

hays hills womens retreat

 

We fought for rest together. We fought for truth together. We fought for Sabbath together.

I’ve been thinking about Sabbath and rest for years and I was thrilled to share my research and thoughts with an audience. It was a huge boost to my confidence. I wrote these words with my friend and editor, Abby, and we were finally able to share them. Our gifts of writing and communication were recognized and encouraged. It was amazing to me that people were taking notes on my words. That they were asking me questions as if I was the expert. I giggled in glee that someone chose my words to write on her mug!

mug worry future

I would like to extend a huge thank you to Hays Hills Baptist Church for being so welcoming of me and for encouraging me through your questions and thoughts throughout the weekend. Thank you also to Aaron and Lindsay Kahler who were instrumental in getting me invited to speak in the first place. To the retreat planning committee who took care of every detail so that I just had to show up and talk! To Abby who has weekly picked apart this text with me word by word to make it the best it could possibly be! And a huge thank you to everyone who knew I was speaking and was praying for me back home. I felt incredibly encouraged and blessed this past weekend. Thank you for being a part of this adventure.

come to me and i will give you rest

Jan 13, 2015 - Writing    No Comments

Seeing the Story

I’m a writer.

I learn this about myself more every day. I compose prose in the car on my way to work and think about more powerful synonyms for common words when I’m running. Words are my friends and continual companions.

But even more important than my thesaurus, are my eyes. I long to notice what others ignore in life. I want to have sharp vision and a soft heart. I want to see the story.

I had this moment while walking to work last week. I work at a large hospital and have to park half a mile away and cross train tracks to the main building. It’s quite exciting every morning, especially depending on the train schedule! The other day as I was still bleary-eyed in the early morning hours noticed this on the train tracks:

sock on train tracks

If you can’t see it well. It is a neon pink and green ankle sock crunched down beside the train tracks.

I saw it, strolled past, giggled, and returned to take this image while thinking, “How in the world did this happen?” I wanted to know the back story. Immediately my mind began concocting possibilities.

Was this the left over of a modern-day Cinderella production where the heroine loses a brightly colored sock instead of a glass slipper?

Is this the evidence of a new semaphore system with colored socks instead of flags?

Was someone running away from a masked man who was in hot pursuit? Perhaps her feet were pumping in rhythms faster than her heart rate. When she heard the distant train whistle. Pushing through the aching and protesting muscles, she gritted her teeth and pushed herself faster than she thought possible. The guard arms began to flash and lower. She yearned for oxygen. Just a bit further. She dove, stretched out, diving in front of the speeding locomotive and simultaneously catching her right foot on the asphalt loosing both sock and shoe in the process, but also giving her self some much-needed separation from the cloaked pursuer. And leaving me a small clue to her whereabouts.

Or perhaps it just fell out of someone’s gym bag as she was headed to work just as I was.

The answer doesn’t matter. The ability to see and create the story does!

What do you think happened? What story could you create with this small prompt?

 

Aug 26, 2014 - Writing    No Comments

Words are Powerful

I think on paper.

That’s not just a website; it’s a statement.

Writing is how I process life the best. Sometimes that makes me feel like an alien creature, exploring a new planet with my ever-present Moleskine. I don’t know what I really think about something until I write it down.

But recently, I found my people. There are many others who know this feeling. Who think of words as friends. Who are also exploring daily, pen in hand.

stack of books, gospel coalition

I was invited to the Band of Bloggers workshop at The Gospel Coalition National Women’s Conference and it was delightful. We were welcomed by a stack of free books which publishers graciously provided to encourage potential future authors. Several dozen word-lovers chatted together, exchanging websites, and book recommendations. We also listened to a panel of writers discuss the perilous and arduous journey that is writing and publishing.

The most powerful thing said during this time was stated more of an aside than a main point. Blogger and author, Jen Wilkin, said, “You have to have people reading your writing. Words are powerful. They change opinions and lives. If you aren’t sharing your drafts with people you aren’t accurately realizing the power of your words”

Words are powerful. They’ve changed my life again and again. I want everything I write to be uplifting, honest, and beneficial. I want to think about posts and write well and never be flippant with what I publish. That would be doing myself and my reader a huge disservice and negating the weight that well-crafted words wield. It was a beautiful to be with like minded people and to be reminded of the mightiness of the pen! Moleskine in hand, I continue exploring, because I think on paper.

Words are powerful. How have they changed your life?

Action and Non-Action

Because time is a finite resource, every action involves an infinite amount of non-actions.

Every choice I make. What book to read, what movie to watch, what food to eat, what topic to write about, necessarily involves not reading other books, watching other movies, eating other foods or writing about other topics concurrently. I can only perform one at a time.

As discussed in my last post, I learned this from an unlikely source, A book titled How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard.

how to talk about books you haven't read

I’ve been thinking about this some more, wanting my choices to be the best possible. I am sometimes swamped with possibilities, invites, offers, requests, and commitments. Everything I say “yes” to involves saying “no” to numerous other possibilities. I say this not to heighten the stakes, leaving me indecisive and ineffective, but to remind myself that time is valuable. It should be used well, thought-through, and intentional. I should be living each day on purpose not thrown into it be default. Am I saying “yes” intentionally to the things that are most important in life? Within reason, am I looking at the options I’m saying “no” to and weighing my options before deciding? Does this thought process excite or terrify me?

As I said a few days ago in reference to books and reading, I now exclaim for the rest of life: Every action involves an infinite amount of non-actions.

Therefore, choose wisely!

Does this help you in decision making or make you nervous?

Aug 10, 2014 - Book Review, Writing    No Comments

How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

Every action involves an infinite amount of non-actions.

That’s deep.

I learned that while reading, somewhat distractedly on a plane and had to turn back and re-read it. A professor wrote a delightful book entitled How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read. 

 

how to talk about books you haven't read

 

In it he began by bemoaning his lot in life as a literary professor who could not possibly read all the books he was expected to. Expected by university and students alike to have a working knowledge of all major works since the dawn of recorded time, no one could live up to such reading proficiency. Bayard discusses the benefits of skimming, familiarity, and thematic resonance possible to broaden his base of books from which he can speak intelligently about — even if he hasn’t actually read them.

Which made me feel a little bit better. I read fairly extensively, but it seems as I work my way through my list of read books, the list of unread and deserving to be read books lengthens exponentially. Thus in every decision to read, I pick up one book, and I at the same down leave thousand of books unread. Because time is a finite resource, this is true in all areas of life. Every action involves an infinite amount of non-actions.

Therefore, choose wisely.

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