Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: WIN (02/14/19)
TITLE: Babble or Write?
By Linda Lawrence
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Write? But Lord, I argued (humbly, of course), writing’s too difficult. I’m a talker. I need my hands and face to express myself. To write I need a thesaurus and dictionary. Writing’s too slow. I have so much to tell. I know I babble, but couldn’t You just make words flow from my tongue?
Your tongue is not tamed.
Oooh. . .
I had asked God to show me where He revealed Himself throughout my life, clues I had missed — and He did. Many stories and insights, but trying to explain them seemed impossible. A devoted reader, I knew I couldn’t compete with real writers, with wordsmiths I admired.
My rambling journals didn’t convey the wonder of “hearing” and “seeing” God at work. Awe-filled experiences sounded dull or unbelievable since I mainly remembered the emotion, but not enough details or dialogue to tell a story. It was important to me that my stories be true.
A class was offered by Parks and Recreation on writing memoirs. A whole realm of possibility opened to me when I learned that memoir allows for inventing dialogue and details that reflect the writer’s memory of the emotions of an event. If absolute accuracy of remembered details wasn’t required, maybe I could attempt writing my true stories. That freedom energized me to jump in and try.
The teacher’s critiques of my first drafts were extremely helpful. Smiley faces when something made her laugh, question marks asking for clarification, circles around phrases she liked. What I found most helpful were suggestions for adding scenes with dialogue and moving paragraphs around for flow and clarity.
I was happy enough with my final rewrites to give some significant family stories as Christmas gifts. I discovered other’s memories of the events were different from mine, but memoir allows for personal memories and interpretation. My perspective was my truth.
I had more stories to tell but they were of invisible spiritual realities — difficult to explain, stories that would be meaningless to unbelievers. Where could I find a Christian critique group?
Google led me to FaithWriters and I signed in. However, the weekly challenge was to write on a topic. That didn’t interest me. I had my own topics, so I didn’t enter the Writing Challenge.
Five years later, a FaithWriters email announced a new requirement: each piece MUST communicate some spiritual message. That’s exactly what I wanted to do, but I couldn’t write on topic. However, the topic given that week was Annoyance. Annoyance is my nemesis. My journals are full of my annoyance. This was a topic I could address. So I plunged in.
Imagine my surprise and pleasure when I placed second in my level. I spoke so excitedly about writing and placing, my sister decided to give the Writing Challenge a try. To her delight, her first piece placed second in her level. The next week she was first. Then for several weeks we didn’t place and we had a number of soul searching, confessional conversations about not winning. We let go of competing with each other. We would rejoice with the writers receiving top ratings, taking captive our desire to win. We were able to see ourselves in a writing Challenge, not a writing Competition. The challenge is to become better writers who glorify the Lord, not ourselves. We’ve become supportive accountability and editing partners, rejoicing with each other as we moved up levels.
However, recently I wrote a fiasco. I asked too many friends to critique my first draft. One said it left her “confused and unsatisfied.” I rewrote and she was more confused. I rewrote and rewrote until I lost the original thread. The deadline was hours away. I had committed to the Six Month Writing Course so needed to submit a piece. Embarrassed with my hodgepodge, the worst of any of my submissions up to that point, I pressed Submit as an exercise in humility.
A week later, reading the Editor’s Choice list, I couldn’t believe my eyes. What? No way! How can this be? Unbelievable! I was in second place! My highest rating ever — for what I considered a failure.
Completely in shock, I emailed the news to another writer friend. Her reply to my shock will keep me writing for a long time. “Isn’t that just like our God —to take what we deem worthless and have him declare it good.”
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