Focus on this moment

A small flower refracted in rain droplets

Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to [God]’s will. What [God] means by this is primarily that he should accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to him—the present anxiety and suspense. It is about this that he is to say “Thy will be done”, and for the daily task of bearing this that the daily bread will be provided. It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross but only of the things he is afraid of.

Let him regard them as his crosses: let him forget that, since they are incompatible, they cannot all happen to him, and let him try to practice fortitude and patience to them all in advance. For real resignation, at the same moment, to a dozen different and hypothetical fates is almost impossible, and [God] does not greatly assist those who are trying to attain it: resignation to present and actual suffering, even where that suffering consists of fear, is far easier and is usually helped by direct action.

-C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

I’m trying something new. On Fridays, I’m going to fast. An information fast, that is. I’m going to shut off the Internet and write.

I tried it last Friday. I was fairly twitchy at first. Kept reflexively moving the mouse over to the email icon or opening a web browser to look at the News or Twitter. If I had to pay myself a quarter every time I did that, I’d — well, I’d be able to buy myself more than a cup  of coffee. The experience was very educational.

We spend too much time looking at “what’s going on” in the world. It starts out as a reasonable thing to do. The world changes every second, there’s always something happening, and it’s basic human instinct to want to prepare for what’s coming.

The problem is, there is always something happening, something to worry about, something to stress or plan or prepare for. I am going to try taking one day out of the week and put the daily news on pause.

And write.

Let the winds blow

Arthur Rackham 1909 Undine (9 of 15)

“I accept the universe!”
– Margaret Fuller.
“Egad. She’d better.”
– Thomas Carlyle

There are things in my life I cannot control.

There are things in my life that I can. Such as how I spend my time.

Today, I chose to turn off the television, close Twitter, avoid email. I will light a candle against the darkness, sit down with my notepad and pen, and write.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7

Benjamin P. Hardy wrote a post on how you can be responsible for  your life despite factors that are outside your control.

Some days, the only thing you can do is write

Ludington Lighthouse hit by a wave (8741875060)

“The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in. The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bath or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

There are some things in my life that I can’t control.

There are some things in my life that I can control. One of these is the ability to turn off the television, shut down the Internet, and write something. So that is what I am going to do today.

What about you?

Updated to add:

Judith Ashley sent out a challenge to write a scene, story, blog post, etc., that shows “how to overcome fear and maybe even build a strong and healthy relationship.” So I’m going to focus my writing today on a scene where my heroine confronts her deepest fear and works to overcome it.

A Different Perspective

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.
– Pablo Neruda, Your Laughter

I have been revising my current manuscript for so long that I cannot see it clearly. I want to finish, I want to be done with this story — I have new stories to write! — but right now I am too close to the story to see it. I need to stop staring at the words.

What do you do when you’re too close to a story? How do you clear your head?

A retreat can lead to victory

“There is no problem so big that it cannot be run away from.” – Snoopy


Nye Beach, Oregon (from the library of the Sylvia Beach hotel)

There is a limit to how many nights I can sleep in a bedroom that’s over 80 degrees, so I fled to the coast.

If you find yourself in Oregon, check out the Sylvia Beach hotel in Newport. Set on a bluff overlooking the ocean, it’s a hotel especially designed for readers and writers. There’s no television, no radio, no wifi, no elevator. But there are lots of books. The library, on the third floor, looks like this:

IMG_2447Most of the books are in the loft above or in the bedrooms. Each room is dedicated to a specific writer, designed to look like the writer’s world and with bookshelves of their works. For example, I stayed in the J.K. Rowling room:

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It was blissfully cool, and I fell asleep to the sound of the waves on the beach.

The next day, I sat down in the library and just wrote. With no wifi, no email, no sound at all except the surf on the beach below, and the occasional cry of a seagull. Finished chapter 2 and got serious work down on some other chapters.

I hated to leave, but alas I did.