Wild Words . . . Photos & Fine Art

Co-creating by heart with sandy cathcart through writers helps and art info, focusing on all things wild.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Putting Down the Giants—Part V

Today we continue with Steve Hopkins message that he gave at the recent artist’s conference. This is nearing the end of the first section, but don’t worry! There’s a second section coming. These words are great encouragement for any type of artist—writer, musician, illustrator….


Lastly, Celebrate your victories.

I Samuel 17:51 tells us that after David killed Goliath, he cut off his head. It as a way of making sure Goliath was dead. But he also paraded Goliath’s head around like a trophy, for all to see that the giant was dead.

Then, David took all of goliath’s weapons and stood them up in his own tent. Every morning when David woke, he looked at them and was reminded of how God delivered him in that battle.

I am not suggesting you parade your work around, but I am suggesting that every morning you thank God for the creative gift He has given you.

One of my closest friends is the singer/songwriter, Bob Bennett.

Bob has experienced a lot of pain in his life—rejection, divorce, depression. But he has an ability to take that pain and transfer it into words and music that minister to thousands.

After his divorce, he lived alone in a small apartment away from his three children. During that time he wrote the following lyrics to the tune of “Bright Avenue.”

I hear sounds above the shuffling of my feet
As I make my way down a strange familiar street.
The Holy sound of family, their dinner’s on the way.
Will I ever be able to sit at that table again?
I did not want to be here where the future is in store,
But my name is on the mailbox and my key fits in the door.
Living in this present tense is the best that I can do.
It’s clear that I am supposed to be here…here on Bright Avenue.

If those who sow in tears will reap in joy somehow,
Then surely I am watering my fields of future now.
My feet will walk a golden street and when all is said and done,
I will be found on holy ground as a good and faithful son.
Walking toward a promise that frees this convict heart,
The Lord will never lose me and He can finish what He starts.
And when I least expect it, I believe these things are true.
It’s as if to say I am on my way from here…here on Bright Avenue.

Now, if you’ve experienced the pain of divorce, this song will minister deeply to you.

Bob was able to use his words and music to paint a very healing picture.
I am in awe of his gift.
I wish I could speak healing as clearly as he can.

Roby Duke is also a good friend of both Chris and I. Roby struggles with his flesh like all of us do. He wrote this song that has become a favorite o mine.

A soldier on the right side
Your armor suited me perfectly
And all and all I’ve done my best
To quench my imperfection
But I’ve fallen from your glory once again
So I come to you O Lord
I come just as I am
I come for love
I come for life
So take my hand
I come to you, O Lord,
I come with empty hands….

Whether writer, artist, poet, songwriter, appreciate and celebrate your unique gift.

Don’t abuse it.
Don’t quench it.
Don’t despise it.
And Don’t listen to those nut cases that call us flakey.
We need to be reliable, yes, but that’s a discipline issue not a personality issue.
Celebrate the unique skill God has given you.


Wow! I am blessed once again. Celebrate my gift? I remember that when I first starting doing art, I was delighted to get anything on paper. It was like…Wow! I did that? How fun!

But lately, I’m more like, “ugh, I can’t get what I want down on paper.”

It’s the same with my writing.
Some days I love it.
Some days I hate it.

Chris Hopkins told me that I probably won’t get down on paper what I see in my mind…but he also went on to say that I COULD get something of significance down on paper.

The thing is, we each have a unique gift and it’s a good thing to share it. And it’s a good thing to celebrate it!

I will be away the rest of the week at Wilderness Trails Camp…working with at-risk kids and doing art and taking photos. I plan to continue with Steve’s message when I return next Saturday. Until then…celebrate! Put some paint or words down on paper and choose to find delight in them. Then share them with someone who will understand what went into the making of them.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Putting Down the Giants—Part IV

Awwwwww…talk about putting down the giants! I just e-mailed the first nine chapters of Wild Women to my agent. It feels so incredibly good to be accomplishing something.

Today’s word from Steve Hopkins (a message he gave at a recent artist retreat) is truly an exciting one. We’ll pick up with his fourth point—Are you a hacker? Or a professional?


Fourthly, Never assume that what worked for somebody else will work for you.

Saul gave David his armor, but it didn’t fit. It worked for Saul, but it didn’t work for David.

The point is, David did it the way God asked HIM to do it, and it’s the same for us. God created you in a unique way, and that means that God has given you a talent unique from everyone else. You will always be defeated if you approach your craft trying to duplicate what works for someone else.

I love the story my artist brother, Chris Hopkins, tells of when he was a student at Art Center. A teacher gave a very simple assignment to go home and paint a map of California.

Art Center was a very competitive school. When given a new technique, the students would work hard to master it. So, when the students returned the following week, they handed the teacher their assignments. The students obviously labored to make the perfect map. Some had drawn it to perfect scale. Others used color to highlight mountains from the valleys. They were beautiful, but the teacher looked at them and said, “Crap…crap.”

He came to one that Rand McNally would have loved to publish and asked, “Who did this?”

One girl in the back said, “I did.”

He wadded it up into a ball and threw it out the window!

Students were weeping.

The teacher then stopped and came to the piece my brother did, which was looking at LA from a tempestuous ocean after an earthquake. In the ocean were some of the symbols of LA—the Capital Records building, the Hollywood sign. And where Hollywood Boulevard ran, it was renamed Hollywood Fiord, Mulholland Beach. And there were portions of the highway in the ocean.

The teacher asked, “Who did this?”

Chris said, “I did.”

And the instructor said, “This is genius. This is what I was looking for.”

Do you know the difference between a hack and a professional?

A hack is one who sits down to work and doesn’t ask what’s in his heart to paint or write, but what the market is looking for.

The hack condescends to his audience and he thinks himself superior to them when the truth is he is scared to death of being authentic in front of them, of writing or painting, or composing what he really feels or believes. He’s afraid it won’t sell, so he anticipates what the market wants and then gives it to them.

Now, there is nothing wrong with taking money or making a living by your craft. Chris is like a subcontractor on a construction job. Where a contractor will hire framers and plumbers to complete a house, art directors hire Chris because he is a journeyman artist.

But Chris reserves a piece of himself that is just his. It is sacred and in the creative world no one has access to it but him. It is there that he does what God has gifted and instructed him to do, to paint and create what the Spirit tells him.


Wow! See what I mean? And there’s still more of Steve’s message to come in next week.

Are you a hacker or a professional?

Are you fighting your battles suited in clothes and with weapons that fit? Or are you trying to use someone else’s armor that’s more a cumbrance than a help?

Boy! That was a timely word for me.

I recently returned from the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. It was a wonderful conference, but I came home with mixed feelings about what I learned. One class talked entirely about marketing and how to sell ourselves as writers, even getting down to how we should dress and style our hair for TV appearances.


That totally depressed me. I’ve never been about the big hair thing. Or the style thing for that matter. I simply want people to read my words. And if I’m going to be on Oprah, I want her to accept me and my wild women for who we are. Perhaps, I’m naïve, but I think she will love us just the way we are! And none of us wild women have big hair. Well…I take that back…if secrets must be told, we do have one wild woman who carried a makeup kit seven miles into camp and used it every day! Ha! My outfitter boss didn’t even roll his eyes when he tied it to the pack mule.

Again, I’m reminded of Ted Dekker's words at the same conference. He told us to be true first of all to what God has called us to write, and second of all to our readers.

I think that’s enough marketing for me.

Did you know that Francine Rivers doesn’t even enter any contests? She told me that herself! I found that very interesting. You may be thinking that I’m wrong about this because her book, The Last Sin Eater, won an award. And you are right, but she didn’t enter it into the contest, her publisher did. And she said that it’s her least selling book! Imagine that! So what good is a contest except perhaps to bolster our ego?

I really have to think about this one. I thought it would make people want to read my books and view my art if I was a contest winner. But not so with Francine. And I’ve even seen big tough guys reading her books at Rendezvous—one of the last places I would expect such a thing.

Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to enter contests, or even wrong to do some marketing. Most of us will have to do some kind of marketing for readers or viewers to even know we’re out there. But I do think it’s wrong to ONLY write or do art that is marketable. Sometimes, we MUST write or paint our passion…the thing that we can’t get off our minds.

And I also think it is dangerous for a Christian to rely more on marketing than on the Holy Spirit. Sure, the Holy Spirit is capable of working through our marketing techniques, but if we leave Him out of the picture when we’re writing, painting, or marketing, then we will probably end up with something that will have about as much worth as peanut butter on…….uh…..a cactus leaf.

And I like what Steve said about us always being defeated if we try to duplicate someone else's work. It's okay to copy in order to learn, but when we're doing the real thing, it should be just that...real, genuine, completely ours.

Francine is true to her calling. Ted Dekker is true to his calling. Lisa Samson is true to her calling. Each one of them wears their own armor and each one of them are selling books and doing very well.

Wow! A lot to chew on.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Meaning of Life—Courage Revisited

Today I’m taking a brief break to revisit the subject of courage and the meaning of life in terms of being a Christian writer and/or artist.

My novel Skookum is now on the desks of the editors who requested it. I’ve also asked my agent to mail it to the one editor who requested it by e-mail from him. It’s out of my hands now. I must wait on the Lord.

But that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing!

“He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope (wait) in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wing like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
Isaiah 40:29-31 (NIV)

Boy! Did I ever need those words.

I will wait on the Lord, through prayer, through praise, and by spending time with Him.

But that’s not all! There’s more:

”I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners, I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you
And have not rejected you.
So do not fear,
For I am with you;
Do not be dismayed,
For I am your God;
I will strengthen you
And help you;
I will uphold you
with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:9-10 (NIV)

What a wonderful promise! I have 1-9-04 (OCW) written in the margin beside it. And I remember the promise back then when I felt I had gotten in over my head with leading the Oregon Christian Writers Conference and choosing a new campus and planning a huge event with Francine Rivers . . . but God was true to His promise . . . even though I was afraid back then; I was dismayed.

Am I afraid now?
Am I dismayed?

**Fear: Loss of courage; intense reluctance to face or meet a person or situation and suggests aversion as well as anxiety (dread).

**(Dismay: To cause to lose courage or resolution; implies that one is disconcerted and at a loss as to how to deal with something; sudden loss of courage or resolution from alarm or fear; sudden disappointment.

Yet God says, “Do not fear . . . do not be dismayed.”

According to Webster, courage implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty. Synonyms: mettle, spirit, resolution, tenacity.

**Mettle: Suggests an ingrained capacity for meeting strain or difficulty with fortitude and resilience.

**Spirit: Also suggests a quality of temperament enabling one to hold one’s own or keep up one’s moral when opposed or threatened.

**Resolution: Stresses firm determination to achieve one’s ends (like the pioneer women).

**Tenacity: Adds to resolution implications of stubborn persistence and unwillingness to admit defeat.

We all know people like that, and sometimes we’ve had these qualities ourselves, but what if we don’t right now! How do we get them?

The cool thing about being a follower of Christ is that I don’t have to rely on my own courage, my own mettle, spirit, or tenacity. God has it all. I simply need to rely on Him.

I do that by making a choice—determining.

Using the Word of God and strong universal witness as my authority, I settle and decide by choice of alternatives or possibilities to fix the form, position and character beforehand…that is, I set boundaries and scope…and through careful investigation, reasoning, and calculation, I come to the decision—making my choice to place my trust in God.

That is true faith…not based on some willy nilly out of my imagination, but based on evidence of things hoped for.

Yet, I am not left alone in coming to this conclusion—making this choice.

The Holy Spirit who lives in me, empowers me each step of the way. And He will do the same for each of us who place our faith in Christ.

Given all the facts, it takes more work to fear than it does to trust.

So why do I fear?

Because I allow other voices to drown out the truth. Instead of careful investigation, rumors and lies hit me from every side. If I don’t take the time needed for restoration, dismay is the first to take control. It comes suddenly, without warning, and leaves me disconcerted and confused.

Courage soon flees, leaving me with no firmness of mind, in the midst of a great battle with no fixed boundaries or plan.

Even then, while running screaming from the enemy, I can choose to run straight into the Father’s arms, allowing His strength, His courage, His Spirit to lift me high above the maddening horde and set my feet on Solid Rock once again.

King David took time to write. He was a wonderful writer! He also took time to praise God and to wait. He never simply rushed into a battle. Even when the battle was similar to the last one, he took time to ask God for direction.

If a king in charge of nation can do that, then surely I can too! After all, it is the same Spirit of God who lives in us both.

And what about you? Who are you waiting on today? An agent? An editor? The next big sale? Or the Creator of all things good?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Putting Down The Giant — Part III

Hey! It’s working. I set some goals and I’m actually keeping them. I hope some of you are experiencing the same delight. If not, then keep rearranging your goals until you get something you can work with. It feels sooooooo good to actually accomplish something.

So, here we go, with some more of Steve Hopkin’s words from the Art Conference. Excellent help for writers and authors. If you missed the first two posting, go back and catch them. Today we’re starting with his second point.


Secondly, no one is gong to defeat procrastination except you.

Many will not embark upon an endeavor because they are afraid of being alone.

I’ve never been in the military, but I have many friends who were Marines and I am always intrigued with their stories of boot camp. I think boot camp teaches guys something very useful to artists and writers. It teaches them how to be miserable.

Marines love to be miserable.

They love the fact that they can eat food colder and crappier than anyone else, that they can work more efficiently than others with lousy equipment and in lousier conditions, and they brag that they have a higher casualty rate than dog faces, swab jockeys, or fly boys.

In the same way, an artist committed to his or her calling must learn to love misery.

They must learn to thrive on rejection, self-doubt, ridicule, and most of all…isolation. No one was going to defeat Goliath except David. And no one was going to help him do it. And the only one who is going to defeat your giant of Resistance (The Flesh) or Procrastination is you.

Thirdly, David had to overcome his fear.

Fear is another ally of resistance, and many are paralyzed by it, but fear can be a good thing.

Fear is an indicator.

Fear tells us what we have to do.

You see, the more fear you feel about a specific project, the more certain you can be that the project is important to you.

Many have the impression when they read I Samuel 17, that David wasn’t afraid. Baloney! David was afraid, but I suggest that David’s fear told him that what he was doing was important.

Have you ever listened to an actor being interviewed by a TV talk show host? When asked, “What made you decide to take on a particular role?” The actor usually answers, “Because I am afraid of it.” He takes on the role because it will stretch him. He takes on the project because, “…he will venture into uncharted waters that compel him to explore unconscious parts of himself.”

Now, let me say this about fear…many a creative person feels he or she must first overcome the giant of fear before they can do their work. But, folks, fear will NEVER be overcome. There is no such thing as a fearless writer or artist. We move forward in faith. Faith is NOT the absence of fear…it is what we do in the face of it.

Perhaps you say you aren’t afraid, you just don’t know how or where to start?

Here’s something that helped me…when I have a sermon to write or a script or a book I want to write, I often have no idea of how to begin or where I want to take a story or a scripture text. So I simply start writing!

I take an idea, even if it’s borrowed, even if it’s simple or bad, and begin to write. And as I do…other ideas—original ideas—come to me.

I usually start every writing endeavor with a #5 mechanical pencil, because for me, thoughts disentangle themselves over the lips (talking) or through the fingertips (writing).

Now, this kind of thing takes discipline, because it is here I meet the most resistance. But as I discipline myself to this task, the spirit begins to move, ideas start to come, and suddenly thoughts and ideas come to me faster than I can write.

I think when we do this we give room for the Holy Spirit to move.

I wrestle with issues. I jot down thoughts…sometimes they don’t even connect. And my thoughts become like puzzle pieces. I flip them over and the Lord begins to speak to my heart and mind, and connect them together, and suddenly I see the picture.


Okay! That’s some great advice. Except perhaps for loving to be miserable. Goodness! I’m not sure I’m ready for the Marine-type mentality. But I do like the idea of writing something, anything, until I come up with something worth writing. Now, that’s something I can do (as all my students can attest to the many free writes I put them through).

There’s still more to come! We’re only nearing the half way point in Steve’s messages.

See ya tomorrow!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Putting Down the Giant — Part II


I have really been putting down that giant of procrastination! My manuscript has been mailed. Hooray! I just finished an article (although it was overdue). And I’ve outlined the sequel to the manuscript that’s been mailed. That’s pretty good for a person who has been procrastinating her life away.

And that all came from simply identifying the giant.

I had no idea procrastination was such a big nuisance in my life until I read Steve Hopkins’ words.

Today, I have more of Steve’s words for you. It’s short, but impacting.


How will I ever beat the giant of Resistance (the Flesh) and break his stalemate—how will we?

I think we can learn some things from David and his battle with his giant.


We must realize first that Goliath is not going to go away—he must be fought and defeated if we are ever going to be successful in our craft.

The greatest Resistance (the Flesh) is procrastination. The reason is that procrastination is the easiest to rationalize. Procrastination never says, “I’m never going to write my book,” it says, “I’ll write it…but I’ll write it tomorrow.”

And the problem of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we’ll put them off till the day we die!

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was one of the great artists and thinkers of his time. People loved his work and learned from it and wanted more. Over and over, he told them he had many other great works in his head, but nearly 300 years later, only one piece has really been preserved—The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

What stopped him?

It wasn’t opium. He was addicted to procrastination. He never got around to putting them on paper. Procrastination must be fought every day and won. But what about inspiration?

Someone asked Sommerset Maugham if he writes by a schedule or only whenever inspiration strikes.

He said, “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, inspiration strikes every morning at 9:00 a.m. sharp.”


Okay, already. Maybe you aren’t a person who can write at the same time every day, but certainly you could write at some time every day?

Here’s an idea:

What if you decide to write first thing every day?

Okay, so you mess up and it’s noon and you realize you didn’t write yet. Go ahead. Write at noon. Or perhaps it’s bedtime and you see that you never did get around to it. So, pull out the journal and write a sentence, or two, or three. That’s a start.

On the second day, go through the same process. Keep it up until you actually find yourself writing every day.

Okay, perhaps you can give yourself weekends or Sundays off, but you get the drift.

After that, you can work on writing something of substance. Perhaps give yourself a word limit, or a time limit, or?

Chip MacGregor, editor with Faith Warner, once told me that he determines to write a chapter or article or story every day. That’s his goal. If he finishes at noon, he gets the rest of the day off to play with his family. If he isn't done by six p.m., then he keeps working and doesn’t go to bed until his goal is met.

Gloria Chisholm (another editor/author friend of mine) used to be a single mom with small children and a full time job outside the home. Her goal was to write one double-spaced page every day. By the end of a year, she had finished an entire book!

Setting goals is important.

Keeping them is important.

Otherwise, that giant of Procrastination (the Flesh) will hold us down and keep us from ever realizing our dreams and will also keep others from being able to enjoy the gifts we’ve been given.

This week has been better for me. Now, let’s head into the next with more gusto than the last!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Facing the Giant - Part I

I'm finally home for a while. Just returned from a mad dash to Southern California where I enjoyed my grandkids and bawled my eyes out seeing Hana Desiree Cathcart graduate from High School. Is the world ready for this spunky gal?

By popular request, I’m posting the following, which is a message given by Steve Hopkins at the recent Artist Conference at Box R Ranch in Southern Oregon. His words are extremely encouraging for both artists and writers or musicians—anyone endeavoring to work in the arts.

(That's Steve on the right and Chris on the left)

Steve is the author of Tale of a Donkey and Tale of a Champion, two books and recordings that are no longer available but are loved by many. Perhaps if enough of us make noise, the powers that be will bring them back out again. Steve is also the senior pastor at Calvary Chapel Christian Fellowship in Salem, Oregon. If that isn’t enough, he’s also one of the best musicians I’ve known and sing pretty decent too.

Steve’s brother, Chris Hopkins, is a well-known artist who encouraged every one of us who attended the conference. I will post this message in several parts until you have the entire thing. It’s something I will keep coming back to often for my own encouragement.



Do you remember the times when you struggled with something or you had been fighting a battle and it left you feeling like you had been run over by a Mac truck?

Perhaps it was an idea. Or a fear of failure. Or worse yet, a fear of success.

Most fears of failure are really masks for fear of success. Or it could be something imbedded in your psyche by a careless mentor or parent that pops up and intimidates you. Or a thought that you’ve wrestled with for years that says, “Who do you think you are . . . a real artist (or writer) or something?”

I think all of us have a giant to overcome. In David’s case it was Goliath.

In I Samuel, chapter 17, Israel’s archenemy was the Philistines. But the war had come to a stalemate. The Philistines were camped on one side of the valley of Elah and the Israelites on the other. And for 40 days Israel made no movement to cross over. Every morning and every evening a Philistine named Goliath would step out of the ranks and walk back and forth through the valley and trash talk Israel.

Verses four through seven give us a physical description of Goliath. He stood about nine-and-a-half-feet tall and wore bronze armor that weighed 5,000 shekels or 200 pounds. He wore bronze greaves around his legs and had a javelin the size of a telephone pole with a spear point that weighed 600 shekels or over 15 pounds—that’s the weight of a shot put! I’m telling you, the guy was MASSIVE!

“Choose a man from your ranks to fight me one-on-one.” He’d roar. “If I defeat him, you agree to become our servants. But if he defeats me, then we will become your servants. What do you say? Deal or no deal?”

Among the Hebrews there were no takers. Not even Saul who was the tallest of them all would fight Goliath. But along comes David, and in an irony that only God could create, a little pipsqueak defeats the great and mighty Goliath.


I’m an artist of sorts. My field of creating is in the area of sermon writing. My congregation is my canvass, words are my brushes, and the Holy Spirit and my imagination is the paint I use to create a sermon.

I teach no less than four times a week. Every Wednesday and Thursday night at 6:30 p.m., and Friday morning at 6:00, and Sunday at 10:30 a.m., I have to climb into the pulpit armed with a sermon that is inspired, instructional and interesting. If you want to know what that is like, just imagine what it was like in college writing a term paper. And I do that four times a week, almost every week, and have for over ten years now.

And every Monday morning, I face a giant. He appears without fail and challenges and taunts me.

And my giant has a name. His name is RESISTANCE. And if my guess is right, my giant is your giant too.

Steven Pressfield, (author of, The Legend of Bagger Vance) in his book, The War of Art , says, “There is a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t and the secret is this: it’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.

“What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”

Pressfield explains that resistance for the artist is more powerful to kick than cocaine, “Look in your own heart,” he says. “Unless I'm crazy, right now a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I'm crazy, you're no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow.

“You think Resistance isn't real? Resistance will bury you.

“You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings?

“Neither have I.

“Resistance beat him.

“Call it overstatement but I'll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.”

…Or a computer screen, or an empty white writing pad.

Pressfield calls this force Resistance, but the bible calls it by another name: “the Flesh.”

Resistance, or the Flesh, is a powerful force field that keeps us from starting or finishing our creative endeavors and potential masterpieces. And the Flesh/Resistance will distract us from our work using any means possible. It will resort to perjury, fabrication, lies, and seduction. It will bully; it will cajole or assume any form necessary to keep you from your work. As Pressfield says, “It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stick-up man. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned.”

Resistance (or the Flesh) does not aim to wound or disable—it aims to kill, and it plays for keeps. It’s target is the epicenter of your genius—your soul.

Here’s how it works for me:

I finish my morning routine and am in the office every day by 9:00 a.m. I turn on my computer and walk to our coffee shop in the church and make myself a double tall breve’ latte with sugar-free vanilla.

Usually, my assistant comes out of his office and we talk about issues in the church or discuss how the Sunday morning or midweek meeting went. I tell him I have a lot of research to do and had better get back to my work, so I return to my computer and stare at the screen and end up reading Fox News. It’s 9:45 or so and the phone begins to ring, or I remember I need to talk to someone. So I make a couple of calls and when I’m done, it’s 11:00. So I go and make another latte…I allow myself two a day, so I head out to the coffee shop again. As I finish making another double tall breve’ with sugar-free vanilla (this time with fern on top) I realize I need to talk to my secretary a minute. By the time we are done, it’s noon and time for lunch.

I almost always meet someone, and when I return it’s 2:30. More calls have come in that I have to return and when I’m done, it’s 4:30 and too late to start anything. So I go home, telling myself I’ll work at my home office.

After dinner and some time with Debbie, my wife, I once again turn on the computer. I decide on my scripture text and Debbie informs me it’s 8:00 and time for American Idol. I’ve got to see if my girl Paris is going to make it to the finals (she didn’t) and then CSI is on after that. I sit down at last to my computer to create, but it’s 11:00 and time for bed. I tell myself I’ll get to it tomorrow, but when tomorrow comes Resistance (or the Flesh) is there again, walking up and down the valley, taunting me, distracting me, wining over me.

How will I ever beat him and break this stalemate? How will we?


Turn in tomorrow for more of the story!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

What is your Passion?

Write your passion! That’s the main word I heard at the Colorado Writers Conference.

Another good word came from Ted Dekker who told us to be true to what we’re about, meaning to write what God has given us to write instead of trying to fit into a certain market need. He also told us to be true to our readers, which means we better have a clue as to who are readers are.

This seems to be the number one problem of beginning writers. In trying to reach everyone we become relevant to none. It’s interesting, though, that when we narrow the field, we most often end up reaching more readers outside of that field.

Of course some writer’s passions reach a very broad audience, as in The Purpose Driven Life. Who doesn’t what to have purpose in their lives? But the author was writing his passion and also writing to the broad spectrum of people he was used to reaching through his sermons.

Ted Dekker says he reaches out to readers between the ages of 14 and 28, but I’m much older than that and I love his books! Yet, if he had tried to include me in his original reader’s audience, he would have probably missed the mark and lost the bulk of his younger audience.

Perhaps this isn’t making sense to you?

The point is that it’s really important to visualize our readers. Okay. We have a passion. But who are we planning to reach with that passion?

In fiction, it’s probably going to be a certain type of reader rather than a certain age group of readers. Fact is, even though I’m older than most of Ted Dekker’s readers, I still like adventure. I still head out into the unknown, expecting great things to happen. So, I like the thriller because it challenges me to think deeper thoughts and move through unknown territories. So, Ted’s field of readers broadens as it reaches those of us who are still young at heart.

Nature and the outdoors are my passions. Even now, as I write this, a chorus of crickets, coyotes and frogs fills the night air. And still, I can hear the sound of a small owl punctuating through the melee. I love it! But some people would either find the noise irritating or even frightening.

My personal writing passion is to bring the perfect beauty of nature into the homes of my readers so they can experience what I experience in comfort. I want them to see the Creator the way I do, as still very much in touch with His creation. That’s not necessarily marketable as far as catching the coattail of a trend, but it becomes very marketable when others catch my passion, as they did at the Colorado Conference.

Several of my soul sisters sat spellbound as I told them stories of close encounters with bears and cougars. They love the stories! But they don’t want to experience it. One sister said she absolutely didn’t want to die in the wilderness, because her body might not be found for weeks!

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it may never be found.

“I want some respect for my body,” she insisted.

On the other hand, I thought I was going to die one time while in the wilderness, then I stopped to consider it and decided that, all things considered, it wasn’t a bad way to go. I was in the place I loved the most and where I feel closest to God. It would be a mere baby step into eternity.

My readers like to read about that, but they don’t want to experience it. It’s good for me to know that, so I don’t insist that they do what I do.

That means the thrust of my books is not necessarily to get people out in the wilderness, but it’s more about getting them to take steps of their own in overcoming fear and realizing their deepest dreams, and seeing the Creator in their everyday lives. It’s also about introducing my readers to a world and people I think they would love if they could just get to know them. So, my passion has been honed down and is now true not only to myself, but to my readers.

What is your passion? Who would you like to reach with that passion? See if you can put it into words.