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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Encouragement (02/23/12)

TITLE: Silencing the Voices
By Leola Ogle


“Stop it! Go away! Leave me alone!” It is my words, but silent, spoken in my mind to the voices that are calling to me. Their incessant clamoring for attention feeds my discouragement. Why can’t they ignore me like I try to ignore them?

I am in control, I tell myself. Without me they will cease to exist. With the touch of one button all evidence of their existence will be erased. I have that power.

Sighing, I quietly fluff my pillow, turning it over so that the coolness of the other side brings momentary soothing to my frazzled nerves. Finally, I give in to the voices. In the stillness of night, in my mind, I write new chapters, and rewrite old ones. I examine scenes for flaws. I eliminate unnecessary people and embellish current ones.

And the characters of my novels are silenced for the moment. My mind relaxes and sleep overtakes me.

I wonder if I am alone, or do other writers experience the same thing. Then I scoff at calling myself a writer. That is what the discouragement does to me. I question whether this passionate drive to write was truly given by God. If I answer yes, then I question why I go through these bouts of discouragement.

When given the opportunity for early retirement, I had seized it, confident that it was God’s way of making it possible for me to fulfill my lifelong desire to write. The visions I had of quiet, peaceful days devoted to writing just never happened like I thought it would though.

My days seem to be busier than before I retired. The many people in my life – family and friends – wanting me or needing me for various reasons, fill up my days. My online selling business that had been part time, the income used for vacations and frivolity, now necessitates more hours of my day just to help pay bills – the result of our shaky economy and my lack of a paycheck. Doubting the wisdom of my early retirement adds to my bouts of discouragement!

In my frustration and wavering confidence, encouragement always comes. Sometimes I place in FW’s weekly challenge – I, who never completed high school because I chose to get married; I, who never took a writing course. I marvel that I have placed first at times, going from level 1 to level 3. I am encouraged by those who leave a comment on my weekly entry, who say kind words. However, I am more encouraged by those who boldly leave a critique instead of praise, whose comments consist of red ink. I yearn to learn.

Disappointed, disillusioned, and discouraged, at my lowest point, when I was ready to give up, convinced I would never truly be a writer, God, my heavenly Father, spoke into my spirit, “Who are you? Are you who others say you are? Are you what you perceive yourself to be? Or are you who I say you are?”

It was enough! God has called me to write. I am confident of that. And so I sit, fingers poised over my laptop. It silences the voices of my characters that will not be ignored, these that I have given life to. It is the only way to prevent them from insinuating themselves into that brief moment when sleep descends, causing my eyes to fly open and my brain to go into high gear with these lives I have created. I am too old and tired to have my sleep stolen away by them.

I cling to the truth that the power of encouragement lies within me through Him who dwells in my heart and soul. But it is also nice to receive encouragement from friends, family and even strangers, but first I must believe in myself.

I am reminded when David encouraged himself in the Lord – “…..but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” 2 Samuel 30:6 AKJV

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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/01/12
Oh I can so relate. I often wonder what I am too. Discouragement seems to be my best friend at times.

Try not to mention the challenge in your piece as the ECs will be put in an anthology and the reader may not be aware of FW or the challenge.

I try to remember I never know who my words my touch. If God puts them on my heart, then He will use them for his glory. I also have found that by trying to read and comment on every entry each week, I have learned so much about what I like in pieces and what touches my heart. Keep writing and know God is using your gifts to touch others!
C D Swanson 03/01/12
This was straight from your heart, and it touched mine. You are a wonderful writer, as evidenced by this beautifully written piece.

Your entry will speak to many. The Lord placed the gift of writing in your heart...there is no faking that. You clearly are a talented writer. Thank you for this.

God Bless you~
Edmond Ng 03/05/12
I can understand the sentiments very well, and I know what it means to wonder whether "this passionate drive to write was truly given by God." My conclusion is not disimilar from yours—God has called me to write. Thanks for sharing this. God bless.