Going Too Far

by Marcia Lee Laycock

I hit send and sighed. This first draft of the first act of my new play didn’t come easily and I wasn’t happy with what I’d produced. I knew there was something wrong but couldn’t put my finger on what it was that left me wanting to drag the document into the trash. I thought about doing just that for the next few days as I watched my inbox with trepidation, believing my instructor’s comments would not make me happy. When her critique arrived I sighed again and hit open.


As usual, the instructor was frank about her thoughts and didn’t hold back the criticism. But there were things she liked so I was encouraged. Then I got to the part that I knew wasn’t right. And I started to smile. My instructor didn’t mince words but they were words I wanted to hear – words that clarified why the lines weren’t working, words that made me want to jump right back in and get to work on it again. They were words that made me glad I hadn’t dragged the document into the trash. And I was thankful.

The problem? My instructor expressed it this way – “It’s your characters telling us what to make of that moment that begins to feel like the playwright “telling us” what to think and feel, instead of trusting the moment and the image to speak for themselves. I like to think that I am called to plant the image, the debate, the relationship and I let the Holy Spirit do the rest. People love to figure things out for themselves. I think this is why Jesus spoke in obscure parables and resisted explaining right away. It’s a holy practice – to ponder.”

Yes! That was it exactly. I had simply gone too far, said too much, given too many answers instead of leaving the questions to be pondered.

And I wondered, do I do this when I’m talking with people who don’t know my Jesus? Do I go too far in trying to lead them to Him? I thought about the time when I came to Christ, a tumultuous time in my life when I desperately needed answers but did not want to hear them. I thought about my brother, simply saying, “God bless,” every time he left my home. Those two words tolled like a bell. He didn’t have to preach at me. The Holy Spirit was quite capable of making those two words do their work in my heart and my life.

“A holy practice, to ponder.” Yes. And another holy practice – to write sparingly, allowing the Holy Spirit room there, too.

“Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible.” (Elie Wiesel, author of Night)

“This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (Matthew 13:13).

TWEETABLES
Going Too Far by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)
Trusting the moment and the image to speak for themselves~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)
Jesus spoke in obscure parables and resisted explaining right away~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central
Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult
daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award
for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short
listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four
devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work
has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark
Buchanan.

Abundant
Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded on Smashwords
or on Amazon.
It is also now available in Journal
format on Amazon. 
Her
most recent release is Celebrate
This Day
, a devotional book for special
occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 
Sign
up to receive her devotional column, The
Spur

My Day of Epiphany

by Marcia Lee Laycock

I was in tears. No, not tears of sorrow but the kind that spring from being touched deeply and profoundly. Interesting that it happened to be January 6, traditionally known as the day of Epiphany.

It happened as I began a writing course called The Creative Way by Ted Dekker. A few months ago I almost emptied my writing bank account to buy this course. I’d seen it advertised a few times and kept thinking about it, looking at it, trying to gauge whether or not it was worth the money. I kept thinking about the exchange rate and how that bumped the product up to a cost I would not normally entertain. But I kept going back to it again and again. I felt there was something there that God wanted me to investigate. So I took the plunge.

The first module stirred me deeply, not because it was anything I hadn’t heard before but because it was all about something my heart reaches for – abiding in Christ. Mr. Dekker tells his own story and then gets to the bottom line – our identity does not lie in who we are as mothers or fathers or plumbers or dentists or yes, even as novelists. Our true identity lies in the fact that we are children of God. Our freedom and release spiritually and creatively lies in believing how deeply He loves us. The premise is that “transformative fiction” comes from a heart that is resting in that place because that heart is first and foremost seeking to go deeper into that identity. The process teaches us to love God, love ourselves and others as ourselves and our work becomes part of that process.

I knew that. I believed that. But until yesterday I was not whole-heartedly pursuing that path.

I remember chatting with a writer friend some time ago about the fact that I’m a two time cancer survivor. I mentioned that I did not once ask God, “why me?” My only question as I walked down that path, was, “Who are you, God? Who are you really?”

My friend smiled. “You’re ready,” she said.

I didn’t understand what she meant then, but I do now. I’m ready to let go of me – as a mother, pastor’s wife, church leader and yes, even as a writer. I’m ready to get to know who I really am. I have a feeling this course is going to do what Ted promised in his introduction. It is going to change my life and my work.

I’ll be blogging about it here as I go, and no doubt what I learn will spill over into this blog as well. I welcome any comments along the way.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 


TWEETABLES

My Day of Epiphany by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Our true identity lies in the fact that we are children of God~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

It is going to change my life and my work.~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet) 

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central
Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult
daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award
for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short
listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four
devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work
has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark
Buchanan. Visit Marcia’s Website

Abundant
Rain,
an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded on Smashwords
or on Amazon.
It is also now available in Journal
format on Amazon. 

Her
most recent release is Celebrate
This Day
, a devotional book for special
occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 

Sign
up to receive her devotional column, The
Spur

Writing the Pain

by Marcia Lee Laycock

Anne Rice wrote – “When I’m writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is.”

But why do it? Why go to places in our lives that are painful. Why put it on the page?

I recently attended the First Nations Christian Writers’ Conference in Winnipeg Manitoba. The first of its kind in Canada, it was attended by aboriginal people from all over the country. The First Nations Christian Writers’ Anthology was launched and several of the authors published in it were there to read.

There was a lot of pain in their stories. A young man wrote about the abuse he suffered in a foster home. A woman wept as she described finding her sister hanging by an electrical cord in a bathroom. Yes, there was a lot to make one shudder. But there was also hope in those stories because they did not stop with the pain, they went beyond it.

Several years ago I heard Eli Wiesel tell the story about the catalyst that made him write about his experience during the Holocaust. After WW2, he had gone to Paris to try and find surviving members of his family. He got a job as a journalist and on one occasion had to interview Francois Mauriac, the famous Christian writer.

When Mauriac spoke about Jesus Wiesel exploded and told him to stop. He said that not far from where they were sitting atrocious things had happened to his people. “And we have to words,” he said. “We have no words.”

Mauriac was deeply moved and responded – “You must find the words. You must write this story.” Wiesel began to write and the result was some of the most powerful writing produced about the horrors of that era. Wiesel won the Nobel Prize for that work.

Francois Mauriac was right. We must find the words to express those things that are ugly and evil in order that they do not defeat us. We must get to the other side of them. This is the writer’s acknowledgement of stewardship – the stewardship of his/her gift and talent. 1Corinthians 4:2 says – “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” I believe we have been given a trust as writers and we must be faithful to it. To make our lives of use to others we must be willing to touch those parts of ourselves that are universal – the pain and the joy of being human.

Madeleine L’Engle once said – “It is not that what is, is not enough, for it is; it is that what is has been disarranged, and is crying out to be put in place.”

We do not write about the ugliness, the darkness, the things of despair, in order to glorify them, but in order to put them in their place and to recognize that there is redemption of all that is ugly and evil in this world, because of what happened on a cross at the base of a hill in a tiny country then called Palestine.

Bruce Cockburn, the Canadian song writer and poet said it well: “you’ve got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.” 
****

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central
Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult
daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award
for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short listed
in The Word Awards. Marcia also has three devotional books in print and has
contributed to several anthologies, including the Hot Apple Cider books. Her
work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark
Buchanan. 

Abundant
Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded on Smashwords
or on Amazon.
It is also now available in Journal
format on Amazon. 
Her
most recent release is A
Traveler’s Advisory
, Stories of God’s Grace
Along the Way.

Sign up to
receive her devotional column, The
Spur

Guest Post – One Form of Heroism by Jane Kirkpatrick

I’m sure you’ll be blest by this guest post by Jane Kirkpatrick. Be sure to check out her wonderful historical novels.
“And one form of heroism, about which few if any films will be made, is having the courage to live without bitterness when bitterness is justified, having the strength to persevere even when perseverance seems unlikely to be rewarded, having the resolution to find profound meaning in life when it seems the most meaningless.” Dean Koontz, The City.

For a long time I’ve avoided Dean Koontz books. I thought they would be so suspenseful I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night but my writing friends said he was a classic writer. Deciding that the new year means doing new things (“you must do the things you think you cannot do,” Eleanor Roosevelt) I decided to take the plunge and read a Dean Koontz book. The City was wonderful. And the quote above had me closing the pages and pondering.

I know so many “heroes” that meet this criteria. Most of them lived a hundred years ago. Emma Giesy whose husband drowned before her eyes while rescuing a stranger. It took her awhile, but she began to live without bitterness. Letitia Carson, a former slave who persevered despite the unlikelihood that she would win her lawsuit against a white justice system. Jane Sherar who found meaning through children, her neighbors, the Warm Springs people, when her hope for children of her own was never realized. Each of these and many more have taught me much about heroism as defined by Koontz.

I know such men and women are out there today, too. Some call them hardy; others call them pioneers. But enduring a hard time isn’t enough by this definition of heroism. It’s the state of mind that makes the difference, the courage to live without bitterness; the strength to persevere without reward, the resolve to find meaning when meaning seems most elusive.

New Year’s resolutions have never appealed to me, but I’m going to hang on to this particular definition as I write about the people who populate my days. And I’m going to remember these words when my mind might dissolve into bitterness or I’m too tired to persevere or when life seems meaningless…and yes, sometimes it does. I’ll remember that many have gone before me (you as readers, I might add) and as a result, I will take a deep breath, look out my window at my labyrinth and speak a Mary Oliver prayer of gratitude: “It is a serious thing/just to be alive/on this fresh morning/in a broken world.”
****

Jane Kirkpatrick is the NY Times bestselling author of 29
books, most of which are based on the lives of historical women. A Wisconsin
native and former mental health director, she’s a two-time Oregon Book Award
Finalist, A three-time WILLA Literary Award winner, a CAROL Award winner, Spur
award finalist and winner of the Wrangler award from the Western Heritage
Center. Many of her titles have been Book of the Month and other international
book club selections. 
Her latest novel is TheMemory Weaver based on the life of Eliza Spalding Warren, a Whitman Mission
Massacre survivor. After 27 years on a remote homestead in Oregon, Jane and her
husband Jerry now live with two dogs outside of Bend, Oregon. 
See Jane’s other books at www.jkbooks.com.