Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Writing is an exhausting and terrifying thing, especially when your life is already exhausting besides. (I would suppose that if your life is also terrifying, it muddles things even further.)

Anyone have another metaphor besides calling oneself a broken record? I’m too tired to think of one, which takes me back to my point. I’m always just so tired these days, and I rarely get time to write, which is pretty much what I tell you every time I decide to post. Remember when I said that August is my month for quitting? Well, I didn’t quit in August, but here it is September, and I am only able to sit down once every other week to really work on my project. (Working title: Luke and Catie. Original, huh? I stink at titles.)  Afraid of my story growing cold, and missing the fulfillment I experience through writing, I stress over it and feel anxious. I try to remember that there’s no need to be hasty — which is a lesson Jesus was teaching me a few years ago — and tell myself to just write when I can and read when I can. To stay connected to literature.

So, I’ve been listening to books on CD during my commute to and from work. Recently finished Lord of the Flies, which is brilliant, and now listening to The Poisonwood Bible, which is also brilliant so far. What amazing writers who make me feel like such a loser. This is not inspirational. This is an exercise in literary flogging as I watch them weave a beautiful tapestry of words that reinforces my ineptitude. Luke and Catie are so one-dimensional, though I love them so, and I have scarcely begun to describe anything in their world with any semblance of artistic imagery. I want to start over already, but that’s too much.

Here I sit, with a few minutes to write, and I’m stuck. I love my characters, and I love their story, but I want to begin writing better now. Writing in a way that is true art. I believe I can — certainly not like the greats, but in my own way — but I’m already twenty-two thousand, six hundred forty-eight words into the project. Sudden shift? Weird. Start over? No way. Resign to mediocrity and waste my time? Unthinkable.

Now I have wasted my brief opportunity to write by writing about writing, which got me nowhere except into deeper exhaustion and terror.

No, terror is not too strong a word. It’s terror that a writer feels when she has invested her heart and soul and many hours into a story she loves that just might turn out to be a heap of feces.

July 30, 2011

Today, I met [a friend] for lunch. I hadn’t seen her in about 2 years. A lot had changed in two years for her, so we had a lot to catch up on. I didn’t have nearly as much to share, but when I did, I told her something I didn’t even realize about myself before I said it. I said I’m currently happier than I’ve been for as long as I can remember. What a change, right? Even from just a week or two ago, when I was writing about depression. Well, here’s what changed: I started writing — really writing. Scheduled, 1,000 words a day writing. I love it. I’ve come alive. I’m me. I’m dancing around my house and singing praise songs to God. Well, I should be thorough and say that I started praying for deliverance from depression, and praying through the Psalms, before the Spirit prompted me to stop moping about and to get serious about writing. I feel connected to Him, like my story is His story, like I’m doing what I was made to do, and it’s a great experience. Problem is, July is traditionally my month for writing. Summer school is over, I get a lot of free time, and my typing fingers start flying. And then school starts. The thing is, I can be a writer, a wife, and a housekeeper. Or, I can be a teacher, a wife, and a housekeeper. I have not been able to successfully be all four. If I try, I fail and get depressed. If I drop the writing, I’m good at the other three, but I’m aching inside. Stephen King says, 

If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it? (On Writing, p. 147)

Because, Mr. King, I don’t know how to do it all. I can’t yet quit my day job — well, technically I don’t currently have one, but the plan is to find one — and I am not superwoman. I really don’t know how to do it, but I sure am afraid that I’ll desert Luke and Catie’s story the way I walked away from Josh and Leora’s last August. It terrifies me, actually, because I know I’m supposed to be writing, and I don’t want to give it up. But, August is traditionally my month for giving up. 



As with all other aspects of fiction, they key to writing good dialogue is honesty.

Okay, Mr. King. I have been honest; I have let my characters be who they are. I have not censored them. But here’s the thing: I’m a Christian writer. I’m so new at it, I don’t really know yet if that means that I’m a Christian who writes, or if I’m actually writing Christian fiction. But I do know that my story is gonna be about Jesus, which makes things precarious when my characters start cussing. I can’t get them to stop; it’s who they are (right now, at least).

You must tell the truth if your dialogue is to have…resonance and realism…and that holds true all the way down to what folks say when they hit their thumb with the hammer. If you substitute “Oh sugar!” for “Oh shit!” because you’re thinking about the Legion of Decency, you are breaking the unspoken contract that exists between writer and reader — your promise to express the truth of how people act and talk through the medium of a made-up story.

Yes, but I don’t think you totally get my dilemma here. I don’t think my story could be secular, since I’m refusing to simply talk about some benevolent spiritual force that gives us hints about nice ways to live life, but about Jesus Christ as the only Hope of the world. (I’m trying desperately not to be hokey about it, even though I concede that the previous sentence was a bit hokey, but I mean… why am I writing, if it’s not to tell people about Him?) So then, if it’s Christian fiction because I talk specifically about Jesus and not generally about some santa-god, my audience will be uncomfortable with the cussing. But censoring and sanitizing makes my characters hokey and not believable. I want to be honest, but people are going to be mad.

…if you are honest about the words coming out of your characters’ mouths, you’ll find that you’ve let yourself in for a fair amount of criticism… Some people don’t want to hear the truth, of course, but that’s not your problem. What would be is wanting to be a writer without wanting to shoot straight.


The point is to let each character speak freely, without regard to what the Legion of Decency or the Christian Ladies’ Reading Circle may approve of. To do otherwise would be cowardly as well as dishonest, and believe me, writing fiction in America…is no job for intellectual cowards.

Oh. Well. Um… thank you?

So I know what Stephen King thinks about this, but what about you? Are you a Christian writer or reader? If so, you have an opinion about cussing in books. Spill!

(Incidentally, this begs another, less important question. Do you say “cursing” or “cussing”? I think the former sounds ridiculous and strange, like someone’s trying too hard to be proper, but I guess that’s an indicator of how I grew up…)


All quotes borrowed from Stephen King’s amazing book, On Writing, pages 184-188. 


The Muse

Posted: July 29, 2011 in Writing

Traditionally, the muses were women, but mine’s a guy; I’m afraid we’ll just have to live with that.
~Stephen King, On Writing

I understand the verb form of “muse.” I can muse.

I cannot understand the concept of “having a muse.”

Can you explain? Do you have a muse? Is it a real person, or imaginary? Are you actually hearing voices, or…



The Inefficient Writer

Posted: July 25, 2011 in Writing

There needs to be a new writing contest: who is the slowest, most inefficient writer?

Lainie Gallagher.

I would win, hands down! I have been working on a new story — which I LOVE, by the way — about two really cool people and how God is using them for their good and His glory, even in painful ways. It’s going great, and I’ve been spending time with it every day for three whole days! So far, I have written a sum total of 8 pages. That’s 2,345 words, for those of you who can actually make sense of it when someone tells you how many words there are. Word count means nothing in my brain, so that number seems enormously satisfying to me, like I have really accomplished a lot! Too bad I understand what 8 pages means…

What I think my problem is: I’m an over-editor. I have this problem in my daily life as well. A quick email or comment on Facebook, and I’ll re-read it 100 times before I send it. I will even read it again once it’s sent (at least twice), just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I’m obsessed with making sure my writing is clear and error-free, so I think it takes me 5 times longer than any normal writer just to get a paragraph out of my head the way I want it. Add to this gross grammar obsession the fact that I actually want to produce something that’s pleasing to read, and not merely accurate, and it takes even longer. Sheesh.

Anyway, I’m still quite happy with my story so far. I originally intended it to be a short story, but it might end up being a long short story or a short long story. Or a short novel? I’ve just decided to let the story tell its story, and to be its editor every step of the way.


I’m going to (re-)start by writing. I hope to post some of that here, since I already started a new story. 😀

Thanks Bonita.


You know, unexpected because I don’t write anymore. But, I have lots to say. Do we still do those random, Cheeto Thursdays? It’s not Thursday, I know, and I don’t have a picture of Cheetos… (though I do have a bag of them right next to me — really!) But, I’m still going to write a bunch of unrelated, though actually pretty related, things. For all 0.7 of you who still have me on your Reader. 😀

  1. I miss blogging, but I don’t. I miss having something external — ie: readers — that keeps me accountable. I knew you expected me to write, so I wrote. No one expects it now, so I don’t. At all. (Except in my journal.) I don’t miss blogging, though, because NOT being a slave to my blog reader really has opened up life for me exactly the way I hoped it would when I made the sacrifice. I’ve been able to live more fully and with less stress, because I had time to live and the ability to let my brain fully engage in whatever I was doing. Before, I’d hurry through life while trying to pick up on quick ideas to write about and then get to writing. That’s no way to live, even for a writer.
  2. At the same time, a writer needs to write. Not being able to, or — since it’s now fully summer and I should be honest — not having the discipline or strength of mind to make myself, presents stressors of its own. I feel all bottled up, like I’m missing out on something I should be doing.
  3. I don’t know how to have balance.
  4. I am on the edge of depression, and I really think it’s a spiritual warfare thing. God is good, and He has me reading the Psalms. His Spirit comforts me and reminds me to Whom I need to be listening. While David was probably describing his trials with physical enemies with guns (well, bows and spears or whatever), I read his writings and recognize my spiritual enemies. These spiritual forces are whispering lies to me all the time, and it’s really, really, really hard not to believe them. I have a few reasons:
  5. It is true that money is very tight. It is true that if I could get a job (we just moved to a new city for my husband’s job), then money wouldn’t be so tight. It is true that if I don’t get a job for this upcoming school year, things might be even more tough. But is it true that this is my fault? I teeter between yes and no, but I believe that the enemy is telling me yes, calling me worthless, but the Father is telling me no, calling me His.
  6. It is true that my family needs Jesus. It is true that I, for the most part, have done a horrible job of being Jesus to them. Is it true that there is no hope and I’m a miserable failure who should just give up? I teeter between yes and no, but… you get the picture.
  7. It is true that I am a little lonely. It is true that I miss my friends, and that I want to regularly see people I know and know that they love me and are praying for me. That I want to see their faces and hug their necks, but they are too far away. I feel so alone, and I can’t stand being alone right now… it’s just too lonely and sad, but I can’t do a whole lot about it right now. Is it true that because of this, I am unfriendable and that no one likes me? It seems silly to teeter between yes and no on that one, but I do.
  8. It is true, although it seems odd coming just after #7, that I really need some alone time. My husband’s first day of work is not until August 1. We’re here all day together, and I have a very hard time creating alone time for myself (though DH totally supports me in this — don’t misread) because I can’t seem to focus on anything if anyone’s in the house. I am distracted by things that need to be done and the reality that he’s waiting for me to finish up so that I can go live life. If no one is home, I can ignore those things and focus on the fact that I need the alone time to refuel, which will in turn help me to live life. If people are home, I struggle to have meaningful alone time; it’s like I’m rushing through.  While all of this is true, is it true that wanting alone time is selfish? Shouldn’t I enjoy this time with my husband–this time that we haven’t had because of med school and then residency? Well, I do. I am actually really eating it all up — I adore him, and spending time with him is still my favorite thing, even after nearly a decade together. So, maybe this is selfish (and perhaps a bit psychotic)? Yes…no…maybe…
  9. It is true that my mind is wonky and that I can’t get my life straight and that I’m really not any better at the balancing act than I was when I quit the blog. Does that make me a worthless failure whom God is aggravated at for being so stupid? NO. (But sometimes I’m afraid yes.)
  10. How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD, my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have overcome him,” lest my adversaries rejoice when I am shaken. But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13)

I Did It!

Posted: April 10, 2011 in Attempts at Fiction, Writing

With your help, I chose #3, slightly amended:

Her hippie parents had named her Charm, apparently prophesying a lucky future, but calamity courted her from her mother’s womb.

I don’t have much faith in it, I’m sad to say, because I think the prompt set me up for failure. (Oh yeah, I just blamed the prompt!) However, I’m very pleased to have submitted to my very first writing contest ever. 😀


Posted: March 16, 2011 in Attempts at Fiction, Writing

Which opening sentence is your favorite? I’m entering a contest… I’m sure you can discern what the required words are. 🙂

  1. Even Calamity Jane can be charming when her luck runs out.
  2. One important calamity follows all fairy tale endings, but is rarely told: the princess will discover that Prince Charming was just trying to get lucky.
  3. Her hippie parents named her Charm, apparently prophesying a lucky future, but calamity courted her from the womb.
  4. Excited first by the charm dangling from her navel, then by the stitched declaration of luck hiding behind her zipper, he courted calamity without restraint.
  5. Courting calamity is the good luck charm’s first and most strategically important job.
  6. Unaware of the calamity unfolding, he ate his Lucky Charms.
  7. Prince Charming’s charm only got him so far; when calamity struck, it was luck that secured his prize.
  8. Calamity inevitably befalls all of God’s creatures, but some of His simpler ones take comfort in good luck charms.

I tried for an even ten, but I ran out of ideas. Some of these are already rubbish. No matter… which is your favorite?


Goodbye, Cruel World!

Posted: November 5, 2010 in Writing

Blog world, that is. And yes, I mean it.

Here are the facts, because I don’t feel like dressing it all up. (In fact, the very act of posting right now is violating my resolution to quit, so I have to get this over with quickly!)

  • I love to write.
  • I started a blog about three years ago, and it was decently popular. I was no Jon Acuff, but I was surprised at how many people liked to read my rants, raves, and ridiculosity.
  • Too many people started reading it; rather, I should say that the wrong people started reading it. In particular, my family caught wind, and I suddenly couldn’t write honestly. That was one of the main purposes for my blog, so I was crushed and at a total loss.
  • As a solution, I created this blog, where all 1.5 of you meet me a couple of times per week.  You may or may not have realized that my name is not Lainie Gallagher.
  • I then created a Twitter account and a Facebook account under my pseudonym and set about rebuilding an “online” presence. This is a lot of work, but it has to be done if you actually want readers.
  • I got overwhelmed. It’s too much. It was such a commitment to read so many millions upon millions of blogs per day, on top of writing one, that I just couldn’t do it. As a result, I was always playing catch-up, never being able to actually create that online presence, since I was always behind.
  • Other things in my life were suffering, too. I was putting “blogging” — which sounds so lame to so many, but really means a lot when you’re an aspiring writer — above other things in my life. On top of just being wrong, it just stressed me out to the max.
  • I’ve been writing crap on here, when I actually find the time to write, and I haven’t written anything for my autobiography or my novel in months. I have defeated my original purpose; I wanted a place to write honestly, and I wanted a way to get people to know me as a writer. Um, that’s not happening. This has actually prevented me from accomplishing those goals.

That’s it. That’s my story. I went through Google Reader and reduced my subscriptions by 50%. I’m mostly only going to be reading blogs from people I know personally. I will not (yet?) delete this site, just in case I ever feel like sharing anything with an unknown audience, but don’t expect me! I intend rather to spend my life serving my God, loving my husband, teaching my students, and writing. Really writing. Maybe, at some point, I’ll share some of that real writing here.