PHFR – On Writing a Novel (Or Not, As the Case May Be)

~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life, as inspired by the women at Like Mother, Like Daughter~

{Pretty}

I know, I know. It seems all I ever do is post photos of the sky, especially this time of year. But we get such lovely sunsets and sunrises around here. I’m grateful for their fleeting beauty, for the invitation to pause, to rest, to ponder.

Just to prove the sky’s not the only bringer of beauty: the girls and I discovered this frost-covered plant as we were playing outside one morning this week. They soon tramped on to more exciting things but I stopped a moment to appreciate the way the ice crystals turned an ordinary weed into something lovely.

{Happy}

We are all so much happier when we have some good time outside. Outside, where Katie and Euclid run races up and down the hill, where we discover worms and throw rocks and sticks and pine cones into the creek, where there are tire swings and llamas and a whole big world to explore. Though there’s always some inertia to overcome, though there’s the potential for mud and for falls and for scrapes, though my ever-growing list of indoor chores taunts me, I never regret time in the sun (or in the rain) with my girls.

Evening time is family time – that is, it’s family time when I have the discipline to step away from the kitchen that needs cleaning and the dishes that need washing and the laundry that needs folding and join Jonathan and the girls in the living room. On this particular evening, much hilarity ensued when Jonathan became a girl-eating caterpillar, lying in wait for not-so-unsuspecting kiddos.

Two girls, rocking and singing together in a wooden boat made for them with love by their grandparents.

{Funny}

We got a Google Home Mini a few months ago, and, after some initial difficulty, Katie has become proficient in asking it to perform the two main functions it serves in our home: to set timers and to play music. I’m tempted to contact Google; don’t you think this could be used in their advertising?

(In the early days, when Katie hadn’t quite gotten the hang of activating the device, she’d tell me, “Google not answering right now. I fink maybe she sacktid [distracted].”)

{Real}

Speaking of being distracted: back in September, I made the conscious decision (which followed an unintentional lapse in my writing) to take a break from blogging in order to focus on finishing a novel. I was going to get back into the habit of writing, I said, going to pump out the words and get that first draft down on paper.

Ahem. Well. That didn’t happen. As life is wont to do, it got busy, and presented me with any number of tasks and activities to do instead. As I am wont to do, I doubted myself and I procrastinated and I squirreled away my time – a bit here, a bit there, some days in worthwhile pursuits, some days not. And so, here we are, four months later, with not many more words written than I had back in the fall.

Really, though, I’m okay with how things stand. I want to do better, of course, want to use the girls’ nap/quiet times more productively. I have some thoughts and plans about how I might be more disciplined in pursuing writing, but I don’t regret the last four months of quiet. (Perhaps, in this one area, I’m taking small steps toward that balance of striving and contentment I wrote about a few weeks ago.)

At the beginning of this year, I spent some time thinking through my priorities, trying to determine what matters most to me – and whether writing a sci-fi novel fits into who I want to be. A small voice (a self-important voice, perhaps? A conceited voice, with a snooty accent?) wonders whether I shouldn’t focus on blogging or nonfiction instead, wonders whether fiction – especially genre fiction – is frivolous, despite all the times such writing has transported me to a world different from my own, has caused me to contemplate life and love and the big important questions. despite the pure enjoyment brought by a story well-told.

All of which to say: I’m still thinking about this, still pondering, still wanting to be more disciplined in my writing even as I enjoy the activities and the people (namely, two small people) who fill my time instead. Have you ever been there? In a place where you have some project, some dream you want to pursue, but you aren’t sure of the timing, or of the worthiness of the endeavor? Where you’re uncertain about what you should be doing with some small (or big) chunk of time – or even if there is a “should,” if there is a “right thing”?

I’ll continue to ponder, continue to share my PHFR moments, continue to stare at that blank screen and try to move that demanding blinking cursor a bit further down the page in the hopes that, eventually, whether it’s good or whether it’s bad, whether it’s read by anyone else or it withers in obscurity on my hard drive, the thing will be written.

And in the meantime, I’ll continue to pour my energy into the things I know have been given me to do: to love my family well, to look for the ways God is moving in me and through me and around me, to find beauty and contentment in my ordinary life and to encourage others to do the same.

Family and Parenting, Loving God, This Thing Called Life, Writing

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4 Responses to PHFR – On Writing a Novel (Or Not, As the Case May Be)

  1. Yes, but I love your fiction and want to read the rest of the story. (Talk about leaving us hanging…) 😉

  2. jywatkins says:

    Love that frosty plant picture. So beautiful! I’ve been struggling to write lately too but giving ourselves a little grace is a good thing.

    • Jenn says:

      Thanks, Jamie. I’m glad I’m not the only one! And yes. A little grace is good. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.