Waking Up the Creative

2014 and 2015 have been an interesting collection of potholes, roadblocks, detours, and downed bridges in regards to writing. The last time I journeyed through an extended period of not writing (and no desire to do so) began back in 2006. Life found me, then. That is, instead of living vicariously through my characters, I found myself embroiled in Life and its many adventures.

But even though my life seemed to be nothing but blessings, people commented that I didn’t seem to have joy. That was in 2008. The comment made me reevaluate my heart. What was keeping me from joy?

Simply put, I missed writing. That was the first year I participated in NaNoWriMo. Life was good again.

2013. We moved for the fourth time in as many years, and I lost my job. it took most of the year for me to find another job. It was a blow to my self-esteem, and my writing suffered for it. Thankfully, after thanksgiving I was hired at my current job.

2014. We moved again, and because of the fact my husband was away from home on projects, my sister and I were solely responsible for finding the house and getting us moved. Later in the year, my mom was diagnosed with NASH (non alcoholic cirrhosis) and passed away 3 months later.

It was a blow no one expects. Two weeks after her death, I released book 2 of my romance series and didn’t look back. I didn’t think about another character, nor even read a book. I didn’t care about them anymore.

2015. We decided to look at purchasing land and build a home. Life had other plans. Months later, we shifted to the possibility of buying a home instead. Again, what should have been simple was not. Life had long since become an exercise, navigating disappointment after disappointment just trying to get to the other side.

Usually, I vented my frustrations and irritations through my writing, but this time my characters didn’t appeal to me. I had no desire to explore what I was feeling, why I felt what I did, and how to get to the better side of it all. Thinking of my characters and my stories brought to mind the pain of my mother’s death. She had always been my brainstorm partner. My fact checker. My sounding board. Not only that, both novels I would have been working on had main characters struggling with the loss of a parent. To write more in-depth about those struggles would have revealed my own agony, starkly and without mercy. I simply was not ready to face the depths of what I felt.

It was clear how the lack of writing was affecting my attitude. I knew it. The husband knew it. But whenever people would ask me about my writing… I just couldn’t. When the husband tried to encourage me to get into it again… I couldn’t. The thought of reacquainting myself with my characters HURT. I dreaded the idea of going to the next novel to get it finished. Writing should never be an act of dread. I think everyone understood that I needed time, and that fact helped me be okay with giving myself that time. Even my characters gave me permission to be apart from them. It could be heard and felt in their silence.

They left me in my corner to mourn and try to find the strength to get up again.

Then, one day last week, I found myself tip-toeing around the characters and story of book 3. I didn’t feel the shadow of dread. Instead, there was a sigh of relief. A clear impression that my characters, all this time, were simply resting their hands upon my heart and encouraging me to open my eyes. Finally, I believed I might be ready to step forward into the journey of repairing myself after an unfathomable loss.

And you know what? There is joy in my life again. There is a realization that, through my writing, I can revisit memories of my mother. I can channel my pain and my joy my readers to be comforted. Healed. Encouraged. Yes, Life is still sending challenges and disappointments, but at least now there is excitement and eagerness because I can finally see the hint of light on the other side.

What challenges have you faced [are facing] this year?

Nona King

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Fighting Cirrhosis

My mom was diagnosed with non-alcoholic Cirrhosis recently, and apparently her brother had it as well. The doctors won’t say the definite cause, but since it is a lack of liver function, I wonder if it was caused by all of the medications they had prescribed for her blood pressure and cholesterol. She has been in and out of the hospital due to low sodium levels, weakness, and water retention around her liver and lungs…it’s terrifying to see her age a decade in just a year’s time….

This was a life challenge I didn’t particularly want to venture through. Then again, who of us wants to be burdened with a sick parent or sibling? It is an emotional and mental drain; a constant bombardment. Especially now when my sister and I have taken on the added burden of trying to help with their medical costs. It is times like these when you discover your true strengths, and find what you are willing (and eager) to sacrifice just so you can take care of your parent.

I’ve created a GoFundMe campaign. Any funds collected will go to the medical costs associated with my Mom’s stay at the rehab center. She has been there for a month, and she is likely to be there for another. In fact, I have a feeling she won’t be released until at least the start of the new year. If you can help, even if it’s only a few dollars, I will appreciate any amount. Please share.

Dear Lord, we pray for blessings of healing and grace.

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This post is part of the Christian Writers Blog Chain (CWBC) topic for July: Celebrate. You will find more articles on this topic from the wonderful people listed on the sidebar to the left.

As I mentioned in my post on NonaKing.com, this month has been a study of celebration and agony. This year has been a broader study of the same, but that’s a different post altogether. For now, I will limit myself to speaking about Celebration.

A few days ago I began pondering what I could possibly say on this topic. There is the obvious for we Americans, the celebration of our Independence from the monarchy of England, but it rang too impersonal. There is, also, celebration of the fact I am finally here in North Dakota with my husband, reunited after about 80 days apart. But that isn’t what pressed on my heart.

To have celebration there must first be a reason. There is no oasis without a desert. There is no relief without first experiencing pain. There is no celebration without that first agony of daily struggle.

‘…when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD…’ Leviticus 23:39

‘…for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.’ Luke 15:24

When this challenge began in January, my husband and I apart during the week as he worked in Seattle (I was in Eastern Washington), I took comfort in the fact he would return each Friday evening. There also began to grow in the back of my mind the thought we were training for a future blessing. So, we waited, trusting our future to the Lord and facing our daily challenges with due diligence. Each weekend we celebrated the time with one another with laughter and fun. We treasured those days.

But the Lord intended another challenge and, as He does, prepared the way.

My husband was offered and accepted a job in North Dakota in April. It would result in unknown weeks and months of diligently stepping forward into the future God held for us. One by one, these challenges were faced and passed… and one by one another more difficult obstacle stood ahead. The Lord used these daily struggles to teach patience, perseverance, trust, discipline, and calm.

Now, as we near the end, we have reason to celebrate our diligence. We have made it through, our new home in the final stages of closing, our furniture soon to be delivered, and our future brightening through the final shadows of this particular wilderness.

The struggle has been difficult, yes, but I felt the Lord with me each day, as I do even now, and I relished the encouragement of my husband each evening when we spoke on the phone. These challenges have raised within me a new confidence and desire to act. The Lord has led us through, brought us together, and now guides us through to a celebration of victory. It will be a joyful day indeed when I can open the door of our new home and breathe a sigh of completion.

So please remember, if you find yourself in a difficult place in your life, there is an end. There is no way to know when that bend in the road will come about, but take heart in the fact there is a party waiting at the finish. The Lord loves to celebrate, I am confident in that, and we should relish the effect that joy has on our lives, present and future.

So, BBQ anyone? Rib-Eye Steaks and Bison Burgers at my house. I’ll make my famous Devil’d Eggs if you bring the beverages and chips/salsa.

Nona King

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Wilderness of Life

Character builders are prolific throughout our life’s adventure. All are necessary, I suppose, but we mostly see that fact in hind-sight.

While growing up, I used writing to vent my stress and rage. It wasn’t a case of even understanding why I was angry. Writing was my outlet (when I wasn’t taking it out on my siblings). My characters were tortured, and looking back on it now I wonder how much was a mirror of my own life and how much was a metaphorical parallel. Regardless, it kept me sane and somewhat grounded.

When I began to crave romance and love, I provided that to my characters as well. They were a safe outlet, and a way for me to venture beyond the numbness which had protected me for so many years. The agony and happiness I wrote for my characters kept my hopes up for my own future. After all, everyone finds happiness, right?

Through the desert and the wilderness to the oasis I wrote. Long-hand. Pens and paper were a monthly (or weekly) staple. Even after I discovered the wonder of the computer (I built my own starting in college in the 90s), I still would write these adventures and scenes long-hand. It felt more personal. More of the emotion ventured from my soul to the page, leaving me a relief and encouraging a personal connection with these characters which seemed so real in my mind and heart.

Now it seems I am “channeling” the pain, frustration and rising and falling hopes of Sara Little from Searching for Sara as my husband and I struggle forward to purchase a house in North Dakota. He has been living in an apartment there since April 30th, and I have only seen him once (May 12th) and won’t see him again until July… and that only if we are able to close on the house we are seeking to purchase. Each day seems to throw another road-block in front of us, and though I have my Lord to help me up and over and down and through… I am so tired.

And who or what presses me out of these black moments? Thoughts of my husband. He is trying SO HARD to get us through this so that we can be together again, and the knowledge of his own frustration keeps me pressing onward. My husband is not a man who likes the feeling of helplessness, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he wants to save me from this particular challenge. Unfortunately, there is nothing really either one of us can do except muddle through and stay strong. Take it to the Lord and continue to step forward in obedience to His guidance….

It sounds remarkably similar to what Sara has struggled through in her life, her challenge as an orphan at the age of 12, and then her journey from England to America. It also makes me understand why I love being a writer. To see purpose for my struggles gives me a sense of calm, though I have no idea how to explain that concept to anyone. No one wants to suffer through a pointless wilderness, right?

A part of me is thankful for these challenges, because what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. And I know that the Lord doesn’t put us through obstacles that we cannot overcome [with His support]. Beyond that is a fresh reminder at how important these similarities are to drawing me closer to the mindset of my characters. The desperation. The frustration and anger. The tension and the moments of wanting to simply curl up in a ball and sob. To give up.

This particular wilderness will come to an end, eventually. They always do. What I look forward to is this additional life experience that will allow me to “write what you know” and make the character’s beginnings and endings that more real.

Nona King

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Forward Motion

Forward motion is a good thing, especially when I have felt like life has been standing in the middle of the road with its tongue sticking out.

No one likes that, I’m sure.

Thank the Lord, the appraisal was completed more than a week early due to a cancellation. And today we finally received word that the rate for our new home mortgage has been locked. According to the hubs, “We’ve provided all the documents for preliminary underwiting, but more might be required for quality control and final underwriting.” Thank goodness.

Because of all the packing and moving, the Christian Writers Guild gave me a one-month extension on my ‘Fiction That Sells’ class, so I won’t be required to turn in homework for the month of June. Of course, if it turns out that the move actually takes place in July, I will complete my July homework in June and let them know the change.

It has been a struggle and a challenge to my character to have so many things waving in the wind. But I am taking it one step at a time and trying to cast my cares on the Lord. He sees the big picture and He knows how wonderful everything will be once we make it through this wilderness.

Just think how many additional experiences will be in my repertoire for “write what you know” requirements? 🙂

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