Irritated by My Own Writing

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

Gustave Flaubert is quoted as saying: “I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears.”

I think most writers, and artists of all kinds, will relate to that sentiment. I know I do. I remember when I received the email from my publisher telling me that my first novel, One Smooth Stone, had gone to press. My first thought was, “No! Give it back! It’s not good enough yet!” My vision for that book was so much more than what it ended up being.Often I feel the same about the devotional writing I do. I sense something deeply but the expression of it seems lacking. It always seems to fall short and I fear that its impact will not be as effective as I had dreamed it would be.

I am so very thankful that the impact of my words is not just dependent upon my skill as a writer. I can depend on the Holy Spirit to do His work in the minds and hearts of those who read my writing. I can relax in the knowledge that His plan is perfect and His purposes will be accomplished through my work. I can rejoice in the understanding that it is God who changes lives, not my paltry efforts at eloquence.

I think most Christians will relate to Mr. Flaubert’s statement as well. None of us feels that we are good enough. We know our weaknesses, our tendency to fall into sin and to wander away from the One who wants to hold us close. Mr. Flaubert’s quote might well be transposed to read, “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41), or, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24),or, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do” (Romans 7:15).

As writers, artists and Christians we are constantly reminded that we are not yet living in the state in which we were meant to live. We glimpse what ought to be but cannot yet attain it. We wrestle with our demons and our angels. Sometimes we come away greatly strengthened. Sometimes we are limping. Yet every time we understand on a deeper level, that, in our weakness we are strong, because in our weakness we learn to depend solely on our Lord.

We might well cry out, with the apostle Paul, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24). But then, we might well rejoice with him when he answers that question: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).


One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there his is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?

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 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.

 

To Every Book, A Season

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

We’ve had a lovely fall season this year. For a time, the trees were resplendent in their golds and rusty reds.The sky remained a deep blue and the sun continued to shine. But lately the sky has darkened, and we’ve had some strong winds, winds that have stripped the trees of their colour and left them looking grey and forlorn. Of course, we know that winter is coming, and that spring will follow, dressing the trees once again in their verdant robes. It reminds me of Ecclesiastes 3:1 – “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

I know that includes this space of time I have been given now, to write. It is precious to me, especially as I get older, and I try to use it wisely but sometimes there are interruptions and barriers to overcome. All, of course are opportunities to learn, to grow, to seek God’s will in my life, to decide to trust Him.

Knowing that all things go the way of falling leaves also makes me realize that my life’s work, indeed, my life itself, is, as James 4:14 says, but “a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” I try, therefore, to hold it lightly, to realize that it has purpose in God’s plan for a time and to value it as such, but then know it will eventually be gone. If I hold too tightly to it, treasure it too much, I will, in the end, be left with nothing.

Most writers have had the experience of finding their book on a remainder pile or on the shelf of a second-hand store. Even best-selling novels have a short life expectancy in this modern age. “The blockbuster novel is heading the way of the mayfly,” says Bob Young, CEO of Lulu.com, referring to the famously short-lived insect.

My first novel, One Smooth Stone, has recently been given a bit of a “new lease on life” with a new cover, so I’m hopeful that its life expectancy will be extended for a while, but still I know the end is in sight. It makes me a little sad, but when I look back on what I learned about the writing process, about myself and about God through it all, I realize it was a precious gift and I am thankful.

Besides, there are more books to be written, more words to put into articles and poems that may cause someone to pause and ponder the things of eternity. There is more to be learned about writing, about myself and about my God.

And the good news is that we can trust the One who has laid out the pattern of it because He “knows us best and loves us most,”(John Piper); He is the One who “rejoices over us with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

As there is sadness in this season of falling leaves, there is sadness in knowing that our writing has a rather short shelf life. But another spring is on its way.


One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there his is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?

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 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.

 

The Difference A Word Makes

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

As writers, we all know the importance of finding that perfect word. Sometimes it can take a while. I will often highlight a word I’m not completely satisfied with as I write, then come back to it and try to find exactly the word I’m looking for. Sometimes the perfect word eludes us. We know it’s out there, somewhere, hidden in that dictionary vault in our minds, but it just won’t reveal itself. If you’re like me, you’re doggedly persistent in finding thatperfect word. We know it can make the difference between a so-so sentence and one that has punch and power.

In a recent sermon, my husband challenged our congregation to replace one word with another. Both are common words, words we use all the time. One is a word that our culture prizes, the other is a word used in the Bible 114 times.

The first word is successful. We all know what it means, or we think we do. Success in the eyes of our North American culture means a big house in the right neighborhood, a fancy car with all the bells and whistles, well-adjusted children who never cause us a sleepless night, and of course, a “healthy” bank account. Success for a writer, according to all the ‘experts,’ is at least one title that makes it onto the New York Times’best seller’s list.

The second word is faithful. We all know what that means too, or think we do. It is often synonymous with loyalty. The world values faithfulness, to some degree, though in the corporate world an employer would usually sooner have someone bringing up their bottom line than showing up for work every day and simply doing his/her job. The lawyer bringing in top-paying clients is much more highly valued than the janitor who’s been cleaning his office for twenty years.

But let’s dissect that word, faithful. Faith. The bible tells us that word means “fix(ing) our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2Corinthians 4:18).  Faith, then, means focussing on the King and His kingdom, not our own.

And then the small, but oh so important suffix, ful. To be full means complete. My thesaurus lists occupied, jam-packed and bursting as synonyms. Imagine what the world would be like if we were all occupied, jam-packed and bursting with faith in Jesus Christ.

Imagine an army of writers willing to replace the word successful with the word faithful. Imagine an army of writers who are truly faithful, writers who come to their computers every day with a heavenly perspective, focused on God’s kingdom, not the Amazon rankings. Imagine an army of writers that prays before a single word is typed.

Faithful. Yes, indeed, that word will make a difference.

TWEETABLES

The Difference a Word Makes @MarciaLaycock on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2x5Yocv

A word can make the difference between a so-so sentence and one that has punch @MarciaLaycock on @NovelRocket http://bit.ly/2x5Yocv

Imagine writers willing to replace the word successful with the word faithful @MarciaLaycock on @NovelRocket http://bit.ly/2x5Yocv

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 One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there his is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?

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 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.

Once Again

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

Funny how God knows the perfect time to send you a reminder or two about something you seem to have forgotten. It happened to me recently and I confess it made me groan. I thought I’d learned this lesson well a time or two before, but I guess I’m one of those cracked pots that continually leaks.

It happened as I sat listening to my husband preach a while ago. The sermon was called Greatness That Doesn’t Have a Shelf Life. (He likes to use catchy titles). You can listen to it here – http://bit.ly/2gghh9R

The passage of scripture hewas preaching from was Mark 9:33 -50, which includes that rather embarrassing moment when the disciples are caught in the act of being foolish. They’ve been arguing over who will be greatest in the kingdom when Jesus establishes it. Of course, they’re thinking it’s going to be an earthly kingdom, one free of the tyrannical rule of the Romans, one in which they will have positions of influence and power. Even after spending so much time with Jesus they still don’t understand what the kingdom of God is all about.

Yes, I’m sure they were embarrassed when Jesus confronted them, just as I was embarrassed as my husband preached that Sunday. You see, I’d been having a bit of a pity party that week about the state of my career, whining a bit about my books not selling enough, my platform not gaining enough attention, etc. etc. etc. Or perhaps I should say, blah, blah, blah.

Then this: “Choose to make your ambition dependence on God.”

Oh. Right. I think I’ve heard this before. I think I’ve promised to do this more than once. And Matthew 6:33 scrolled across my mind’s eye once again: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

When I asked my favourite pastor if he had someone specific in mind as he prepared his sermon that week, he smiled and shook his head. “No,” he said. “That was just the next passage in Mark.” He gave me a bit of a grin. “I was tempted to give you a preview a few days ahead, but I thought maybe it would be wise to let the Lord deal with it.”

I laughed. “Very wise,” I said. “Very wise.”

So,once again, instead of whining about my lack of time in the spotlight, I will try to remember to focus on discerning what God’s kingdom really is all about, and what part he wants me to play, as a writer and as His beloved child, in the building of it. I’ll try to remember the deep need of my soul – dependence only on Him, and an awareness of His truly unconditional love.


TWEETABLES
Once Again by @MarciaLaycock on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2wmltL3
God knows the perfect time to send you a reminder~ @MarciaLaycock on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2wmltL3
Choose to make your ambition dependence on God. @MarciaLaycock on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2wmltL3
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One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there his is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?


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 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.