How does one respond to recent events such as the last three years? One mustn’t blame. It was his fault or someone’s fault. But if one survived and can see an opportunity in the mess, then one comes out with a better outlook and attitude than without. Adversity can make one see life anew. If one finds trouble, one adjusts their temperament to survive. One does not give up but can turn over with a view to stay alive and live. One can even think about how they relate to the Creator: what is my relationship with the Creator of the world like? How can I draw closer to God during adversity?
I have been reflecting on the Gospel of John. The read has been enjoyable and compelling. This week, I have been reading the chapter on Lazarus and I learnt why Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead. I now share my findings from the gospel itself.
Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha, who lived in the village of Bethany, two miles from Jerusalem, in the first century. Jesus at the time was staying on the far side of the Jordan and was told that Lazarus was unwell.
Two days later, Jesus said to his disciples that Lazarus was physically dead. Jesus explained to his disciples, who were with him, that he meant that Lazarus was resting–meaning his disembodied spirit was resting in Hades, the waiting place for judgment of the dead (as David Pawson explains in “The Road to Hell”). Lazarus was not in heaven or hell. He was resting, in a waiting place for the spirits of the dead.
Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters and was going to wake Lazarus up, so his spirit would come back to his body. Lazarus would come back to life. Jesus went to Bethany and met up with Mary and Martha. Lazarus had been in a tomb four days and Jesus prayed and Lazarus came out of the tomb, alive.
Why did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead? Love. Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters. They would have been grateful they got their brother back and Jesus delivered on this for them.
I discovered that Jesus’ love in raising Lazarus has a much wider application as well.
My first published poem was in a church newsletter and it should have been left for the back page as the matters of church life would be of more importance rather than a mere poem. This rather negative estimation in view of ecclesiastical concerns which would take up much weight in the minds and hearts of many older middle-class members.
As one of the youth I expected a rejection of the poem I submitted to the church newsletter (can’t recall precisely how I got around to submitting to a church newsletter, but I did have a affinity for the people) I expected a flat out rejection, but I was pleasantly surprised by the forward thinking pastor who gave my poem the whole of the front page! It was a poem about Jesus and especially the cross he died on and the mountain he was on…the poem came straight from my heart, out of my relationship with Christ. The words just flowed.
I wrote the poem and thought it was kind of a napkin type of thing. There was no real attempt to submit professionally to a real publisher—I guess I did not consider a church newsletter the real thing. But I was graced by the pastor who saw something good in it and decided against better ecclesial judgment to have put it on page two. Page one will do, though.
You know sometimes I like to muse like the guy pictured. Looking into the solar system. And I am musing about the writing life. “At the moment, I’m looking into another genre, or genres, to see what happens with submissions to those. But, just maybe I’ll write a musical set in outer space.”
There’s nothing like a good paragraph to start an article, but what if your own paragraph (this one I’m writing excluded) sounded gratingly off-putting? That’s how I felt about a 2001 article of mine. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with what was said in that first paragraph, but back then I probably found it interesting. However, the middle of the article made me think. It actually made good sense, and if one applied this wisdom, it would do some good. I wish I had applied it earlier. Even so, one knows what one knows at the time. That’s life. But just maybe I will write the sequel….
I have seven devotional ideas to write into devotions, with probably more inspired by my readings each day. I don’t like to have devotional ideas on the back burner, because I like to have nothing devotional pending on any given day. Ideally, I like to write a devotion a day based on being inspired by my Bible reading that day! But I have seven devotions pending…Is there such a thing as being over-inspired? It’s nice to start on a blank page. With nothing to call a “workload” or “catch up”. But I’m not complaining about that. Grist to the mill!
Getting rejected by a publisher hurts, like it did for me today. In my case this time it was a rejection in the devotional genre. But after the “throwing writing in” thoughts subside, it occurred to me to try another publisher or use it in some other genre or reuse it into something else completely. It’s not over yet…
Once this week I thought: I’m still ruthlessly deciding on what devotional ideas to use or not to use. If any are worth writing up formally, so I can relax by writing less.
But the material’s mostly gone –been rubbished, binned and formally incinerated. Remnants, though, survive. Even those I thought I could recycle in another form are mostly gone. But as I say, some survived the burning process. And one has an eye on better devotions for the future.
The opposite of the problem of writers block is too much writing. There are lots of ideas and written passages on my notebook and computer and I think I am under an obligation to use them all, which feels oppressive. Then comes liberating the notebook/s, by eliminating useless ideas. But, who knows, in years to come, they be viewed better. So, it’s probably a good idea to keep them and not worry about the clutter for a while.
I came across an encouraging obituary.
Motivation can be an issue for a writer if not on assignment. It’s possible for a writer not on assignment to be extremely motivated, but it’s also possible that a writer not on assignment is unmotivated to produce their own material. But the writer with a strong level of entitlement is a storm force.
At the start of the week, I submitted two pieces, one article and one devotion, for consideration for publication. It felt good that the job was done and that the submission process had begun, that it was no longer in my hands as it was. Looking forward to what happens.
Bad days are gone, grey days instead. In the grey days it’s not so bad. The day may be grey. A rejection letter that sounded like a gentle let down. A letter from the editor that while the piece hasn’t been accepted, it’s on the short list. Tiny bits of encouragement woven in. With that little bit of encouragement, one is encouraged to do more.
Little things I pick up along the way…as I was reading a book, I stumbled onto a nugget of wisdom. The book appraised films for this or that reason and a reason a critic gave was personally illuminating. The critic said a certain director wasn’t prepared to go the places a subject or premise would naturally go. It clicked. If I am to write stories, write stories I am prepared to deliver on. Go to the places the subject demands. If I can’t go there, don’t write it.
I love researching for the sake of it, to dwell on and absorb knowledge, but whenever a writer wants to apply research, one should know what it’s useful for before starting. Is it for a book? Is it to learn something to pass onto your readers? Pretty obvious stuff really. The trick is knowing why? Maybe research for fun, full stop, no more than that. Become not a know-it-all, but useful in some regard that you never thought about before. Research for fun may come in handy somehow.
Devotion written this week; signed and sealed, but not delivered, yet.
This week writing has been writing a devotion based on old notes of my bible reading, a humor piece that I completed and submitted, and a significant revise of a poetry. Patience and time is a key to working on pieces, though I may be tempted to get the work done fast, so I can move on to the next thing. No, don’t do that. A calm spirit is better. Patience and time gets things done better.
Or a mission, to pursue the possibility (not probability at this stage) of submitting a unique work of fiction or poetry by the end of next month, to a publisher that is open to receiving it. In the words of a former supervisor of mine, I look forward to it.
Start thinking about it today. Work on it tomorrow.
Wrote a short devotion of about 200 words that I’ve sent off to a devotional publisher, hoping it will do well. The same publisher is going to publish an older devotion of mine that was submitted over two years ago.