Write Run Live

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Photo from Gretchen E.K. Engel

The Scriblerians regularly “get together” virtual style on Google Hangouts and the topic of our blog came up. We decided to do columns with our individual theme. It was easy for me. I chose Write-Run-Live. My favorite and easiest blogs are ones I do that center around setting goals and encouraging others in their journey.

Right now I’m finishing up the rewrite of a manuscript. I’ve changed it from first-person present to close third, altered the timeline, and changed the title as well as some of the focus of the story. Believe it or not the hardest part was flipping from pantser to plotter. It took a bit of tweaking scenes before I realized I had to strategize. I took the new timeline and made it work. Writing the scenes and editing them have been the easy part.

That’s a metaphor for my life right now. Along with writing, I’m training for my second, and perhaps third half-marathon. Then there’s the kids’ summer activities, and I’m in the middle of a large project with my day job. Scheduling my life is the hard part. Getting it done works with some planning. Did I mention that I’m becoming a plotter in real life too? OK, maybe I’ve always been a plotter who just looks spontaneous.

That said, I do crazy-busy as little as possible. It’s like the speed work part of my training. They’re my favorite runs. I sprint for 400m (1/4 mile) then walk for a 1/4 mile. This alternates for a number of sets. I can sprint knowing that I have time to rest. Toward the end of the rest, I’m ready to run again. Like life. I enjoy seasons of busy when I know there’s an end in sight. And relish the slow times knowing a busy season is around the corner. Another metaphor.

Do you like a scheduled life, being spontaneous, or a bit of both?

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The Art of Self-Deception – Part I

I don’t know exactly when it started. Years ago, maybe, when the volume of commitments almost equaled my available time. What was I doing? Nothing extraordinary.

  • Full-time job and daily commute. Check.
  • Caring for my parents. Another check.
  • Evenings with my husband and children, followed by writing several pages on my WIP. Double checks.
  • Weekends for congregation & worship, errands, keeping house, and helping my family grow a vineyard. Quadruple checks.

Raise your hand if these sound like you.

Launching my first novel was a thrilling experience last year, but it edged me into a time deficit. Did I care? Not really. It simply proved that the harder I worked, the more successful I could be. I still believed everything on my schedule was necessary and could only be done by me… a deception that took root in the void of No Free Time.

My smartphone came to the rescue—calendars, lists, online shopping, alarm reminders, apps for reading the Scriptures, email and social media—and enabled me to become uber efficient. Addicted to my smartphone’s super hero qualities, I became the puppet, and it became the master.

In the spring of 2013, a health crisis brought my Figure Eight laps to a screeching halt. Curled up in bed in a fog of pain, I couldn’t tolerate lights or sounds—even conversations, and I had difficulty pulling my thoughts together and formulating words. My computer and phone lay idle for the first time in years.

pulse-traceAn unpleasant surprise greeted me after I emerged from my cocoon, not as a colorful butterfly, but as a wounded moth. No longer able to breeze through complex tasks, any small thing now required effort, time, and multiple re-do’s. In 2014, following another hospitalization, a team of doctors diagnosed me with an incurable, debilitating disease. Forced to cut back on work, my Type A personality rebelled, believing that non-productivity was tantamount to failure.

During the holiday season, I finally admitted I was not improving. When I reluctantly asked my family for assistance around the house, they blew away another dangerous deception. They gave me unconditional love even though I couldn’t do everything I’d done before, and they happily—yes, happily—stepped in to help. To my amazement, they expressed gratitude that I would allow them to come along side. When I confided to my friends I discovered they didn’t shun my weakness either, but rallied around me.

Self-reflecting in this new year of 2015, I’ve found the courage to ask questions.

Why was I doing all these things? Love-certainly, but did a deeper need for validation drive me even harder?

Was it the perfectionist in me or because I feared a loss of love or respect if I wasn’t Superwoman 24/7?

Did I hope to earn the Lord’s approval by being a good person?

Examining my heart for the truth will be a challenging hike over mountain terrain, but I believe the answers will come, along with breathtaking views.
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Are you too busy to reflect on your inner self instead of how you are fulfilling expectations? What tasks are you doing that could be borne by others?