30 December 2009

Lady in Waiting

If there is a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ~ Toni Morrison

Honestly, it wasn't so much the "book not written" or the fact I have to write it that caught me. It was one little word. One insistent, provoking, prodding word. Must. A compulsory word. A word that means, no matter what, it shall be done. It MUST be done. To feel so compelled to write, to feel so pulled by tendrils of story and light that I have no choice but to sit at my computer, at a pile of paper, to scratch words into leaves.

Not so easy. Life rushes at us at breakneck speed. I wake every morning knowing eight hours of my day is devoted to helping someone else's dreams of success come true. I wake when all is quiet and glance down my dark hallway, wanting desperately to take a candle and climb the stairs to the second hand table and type. Nothing in particular. Just to get words out. To let loose the moths in my soul and let them fly northward to the moon. They flitter about all day, turning circus tricks in my stomach. I know they want freedom. It's my freedom they mimic.

I think of stories all day long. Sometimes I act them out when no one's around. I'll speak the lines of every character. It helps me process. C.S. Lewis is rumored to have told his friend J.R.R. Tolkien that the books they wished to read weren't written yet so it fell to them to write them. What if they hadn't? What if Tolkien and Lewis had been so trapped in the day to day that Narnia and Middle Earth never existed except in their dreams?

The world would have lost out. Maybe you think you don't have a Narnia. Perhaps the thought of Middle Earth frightens you. It's full of orcs, of goblins. Of Balrogs and flaming, all-seeing eyes. But it's also full of music and love, laughter and heroines so desperately afraid of losing a chance at valor and glory, being sat on a shelf to mind manners and rule in a position she was never meant to have.

Perhaps your story sits patiently. Perhaps it speaks to you in night dreams. Perhaps it nudges you, prods you, shoves you down stairs. Perhaps, like a lady in waiting, it sits beside you, helping you with your day to day, feeding your slowly shriveling soul. And then, in the darkness, when you wake unable to sleep because of the words dancing in your head, she takes you by the hand and leads you by candle light up the stairs to a second hand table, looks you in the eyes and says, simply, "Write".

What is your story? What is pulsing in your veins? Doesn't make sense? Doesn't have a plot? Doesn't have a direction? Doesn't matter. Put in on the page and let the words have their way.

Image found here


Anonymous said...

Jen, you are such an inspiration. I actually started an ebook on "How I survived my boyfriend's divorce". It is sitting for the moment. Perhaps I'll run in and add to it. =)

Thanks Jen! *hugs*

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I love your new background! It's awesome.

Such a great command. Even in seasons where I'm not writing, I don't know who I would be if I didn't write. It's just such a part of me.

Mary Aalgaard said...

The story keeps calling me back. As I sit next to piano students who plunk and plod and forget to count, I think of my story about a girl and her sisters in the '40's in Minnesota, and their mother who is locked away from them. Time to plunk and plod out the rhythm of that story! Glad to have found your blog!

Tamika: said...

Oh, how I have missed your thought provoking posts. So elegantly written Jen. I must. While I have today, I must.

Thank you friend.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Excellent post, Jen. Alexandra Stoddard has written about two dozen books...24, or more, books!!! She rises at 4:00 a.m. and writes for two hours a day, every day. She's done this for most of her life and while raising two daughters as, first a divorced, single mother, then as a married woman with same children. It can be done.
Love the info re. Lewis and Tolkien; both tremendous writers but, let's face it, for most of his life, Lewis didn't have the distractions of wife, children, family, etc. He was a Don at Oxford and it was his job to write. Much different than when one has to sandwich it in between other commitments...such as working eight hours a day to make another's dream come true.
I'm not being negative, actually, I'm being very realistic.
Again, it can be done but it takes careful planning, dedication, commitment, devotion and will power. Attributes sorely lacking in most of us...sigh. Yet for all that, encouragement is real and that one spark is all that's needed to light the candle while others curse the darkness.
Many thanks.
p.s. word verification is "wonest"...won? honest?...great word!

Debra @ Common Ground said...

Jen, I loved reading this post. So many of us have the need and desire in us to create, but we forfeit, for lack of "time". This year has been a time when God grabbed me by the back of the neck and sat me down. I knew my life and well being depended on it. We all have "seasons" in our lives and I don't want to miss the one I'm in by wasting what is given to me to share with others.
Thank you for reminding us to pursue our heart's desire.
Blessings for the New Year,

The Blonde Duck said...

Popped in to say hello! It's like I found a soulmate in your post! I'm a fellow YA writer that was just thinking today about how many stories there are to tell, but so little time to write them.

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

Jen, I wish we could spend an afternoon together making pasta...and then an evening eating it and talking about writing and books.....

I have had such a good time getting to know you this year and look forward to more in the new year...

Happy 2010, dear friend


...mmm... said...

This is a great post, Jenn, loved it. you definitely need to write It appears. you describe that writer's angst so well. I don't have any stories per se that could be book form but you clearly do and i hope it all fleshes out well for you, so to speak.

BTw, i would be delighted if you decided to tackle the Creative Tuesday project. you could even use words and write those down into some sort of typographic illustration, that would work too. Anyway, if you decide to do this, don;t forget to go back adn sign up your name for this fortnight's project. I so hope you can. thank you for your support either way.

Dawn Simon said...

This is a beautifully written post--and inspirational.

I feel compelled to get the story down--first to finish one draft. Then clean it up, maybe shifting scenes or chapters while I eliminate words or add things. And so it goes. The "must". Novels are such large dreams, but if we just chip away, we can do it!

Anonymous said...

Thrilled to have found your blog!!! My "story" is in the process of erupting! Currently poetry fills my notebooks.

maggie's garden said...

Goodness...I'm almost embarrassed to leave a comment amongst such eloquent words not only in your post...but also from your sweet readers. Thank you for stopping by at Maggie's garden today.

I would throw out every clock on earth to stop the measure of time. Which is the point of all the clocks, and quotes about time on my blog of course. The eight hours of time you give to your job is a measure of what you aren't able to fulfill for yourself. Don't we all wish we could just put in whatever amount of work fit into our day, and the boss never questioned it? I bet we would be a bit more productive both for the boss, and for ourselves. Such wishful thinking I suppose.

Happy New Years Jen

Rebecca S. said...

That very quote by Toni Morrison inspired me 13 years ago to write a book. Nice to read it again. '
Now I'm going to see which Jane Austen character I am.

FireLight said...

This was just a total joy to stop...pause...muse....
Maggie said it well...oh for the time to create...
Best wishes for coming year...never stop writing!

FireLight said...

While I do love Jane Austen's work...I am more like some of the women in Thomas Hardy's books...but I will take the quiz and find out.

Helen Ginger said...

Jen, I like your advice at the end. If you have a story to tell, even if you don't know how to tell it or don't have the time, do it.

Straight From Hel

Fiber Focus said...

Beautiful blog! I just came over to thank you for your comment on the textile stamps. I signed on as a follower here, too! Happy 2010!!!!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Beautifully put! And a wonderful message...we need to tell our story. No matter what. We should all make the time.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Ratty said...

I have very many stories floating around in my head, some big and some small. They seem desperate to come out, so one day they all will. I don't know if anyone else will like them, but I think I'll tell them just in case.

willow said...

I love your writing, Jen. And I do have an idea for an autobiographical novel outlined. One day I must write it! Keep inspiring me, dear friend.

Blondie said...

This is a great post are a true inspiration. I have not even looked at my novel since November 30, and am dreading revision. It seems so much easier to crank it out in 30 days, now that I have to revise it, I'm finding any excuse to avoid it. Any advice?

Thanks so much for commenting on my Marilyn post. I think everyone has such interesting ideas on her tragic death. It's so nice to have you back honey! Have a great new year! Kori xoxox

Terresa said...

Yep, I'm working towards that, "writing" stuff. my WIP is most definitely a "lady in waiting." She has been since I started it last year. All the time I'm writing something each day, juggling a very busy church calling and raising up my young family.

I don't want to feel the sorrow of turning away from them, their small hands and babyhood to write, to choose writing over them, but sometimes I still do...

It's all a delicate balance, one that is different every day of the year. I didn't think it would be this way but it is. It's life. What works some days (writing from 9am-noon) doesn't work the next day (writin from 10pm-2am). I shift my writing all over the 24 hrs most people call "day" and know, in time, a book will result.

In the meantime, the process fascinates me, the learning, the digital and real world networking, and the inner mind turning over on itself and finding the light again and again. And writing through it all. It's really something.

Sarah In Wonderland said...

Oh my, this has inspired me SO much to write, I feel almost compelled through these bonds of ink that bind us all to the story.

And that picture is just sumptuous; the rippling velvet folds - and I love how she's turned away from the book; almost like the magic of the words within it were so intense that she had take a second to breathe. Books that take the breath away - those are the kind we should aspire to write. :)

Your posts are so beautiful and brimming with heartfelt, unintentional poetry, it almost makes me ache for more.

I do hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and here's to a ground-breaking new year!

Much love,


...mmm... said...

Happy New Year Jenn. jsut watched the countdown in NY. Pathetic really as soon as it out to 2010 it cut to local Denver news and some stray firework going off in someone;s backyard. Really sad actually.

Jen Chandler said...

Thanks Annette! Good luck with that ebook.

Thanks Kristen. I wanted to change it up for the new year. Writing is a part of us. So much so that even when I'm not writing, I'm creating stories in my head!

Hi Mary! I'm so happy you found your way here! I look forward to repaying the kind visit.

Tamika, I always treasure your comments. They are always so heart warming :) Thank you!

I've often thought of the luxury Tolkien and Lewis had, their only job being surrounded by the atmosphere at Oxford. Lucky, huh? But therein lies the challenge! To create in spite of life or, rather, because of! Love the word verification :)

I too went through a strange season this year. I finished a trilogy and then lay fallow. It was strange and i felt unproductive but now I know God was making me rest for the next leg of the journey. I'm ready for the next season now :) Happy new year!

Jen Chandler said...

Hello Blonde Duck! I'm very glad you made your way here. I look forward to returning the kind favor :) Good luck with your projects in the coming year.

That sounds wonderful! I'm so glad we've got to know each other this year. I look forward to many more posts, friend! Happy 2010!

Hello Mr. Toast!
I have been thinking about doing the Creative Tuesday "challenges". After the new year, I will stop by and sign up for the newest project. Cheerios, if I remember? Love it! Happy 2010!

Thank you, Dawn, and good luck with all your writing projects in the new year!

Raining silence, welcome! Happy you've stopped by! I'll return the gesture come Monday :)

Wonderful thoughts, Maggie! Don't ever not post a comment! I enjoy every single one. It helps me to keep going, knowing I have people who read what I right and, most importantly, enjoy it!

Rebecca and Firelight: I'm curious to see which Jane Austen character you both are. I knew I'd be Elizabeth. Didn't even need to take the quiz, but I thought it would make it more "official" :)

Thank you, Helen.

And thanks, Fiber Focus! I'm happy to have you along for the ride :)

Elizabeth, I thank you!

Ratty, get those stories out! You've got such a fun way with words. I'd LOVE to read an entire book of your adventures.

Thank you, Willow! And know that you are an inspiration to me, friend. I'm happy to have met you this past year.

I know how you feel about being afraid of that draft. The best way to get over the fear is to tackle it. Just scream your way through! It works for me, every time :)
You have such a way with words it would be a shame if you didn't shift those hours. I always find inspiration in visits to you blog. happy new year, friend!

Your words are like butterflies breathing fresh air into the world. I thank you, friend :)

Malisa said...

What pure inspiration! I wonder what made me find your blog today? Did you write this post just for me? Thank you!