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…



July 27, 2011

My interview with Mr. B——- at the high school went awesome. I can fairly confidently say that it was probably the best interview I’ve ever had — he interviewed me for an hour! I’m so thankful to have had a positive experience. I’ve been praying every time that God grant me a good interview, regardless of the ultimate outcome. I’ve just felt so much pressure to get a job, and so it’s easy to feel like a failure when I’m not getting the job each time. At least if I have a good interview, I can confidently say I gave it my all. I won’t be agonizing over what I could have or should have said — at least not too much! God has been so gracious in giving me four positive interviewing experiences. I’m so grateful! On another note, I realized that I haven’t thought of an enemy for my book. I have to have (a human manifestation of) the enemy! Circumstances aren’t enough… I need real temptations. Unexpected ones. Hmmm. It’s gonna be good! 


I have to return a call to a principal who wants to schedule an interview. I’m terrified of calling people I don’t know, because I just know I’ll trip over my words and sound stupid. This is a bad thing made even worse when you’re trying to get the man to hire you.

So. This is what I write in a Word document before I call.

May I please speak with Mr. B———?

Hi Mr. B———-, this is Lainie Gallagher returning your call to set up an interview for a social studies position.

I am definitely still interested, and I can be available either Wednesday or Thursday, whichever works better for you. My phone number is ***-***-****. I look forward to hearing from you soon! Thanks; hope you have a great day.

You might notice the breaks and the lack of continuity. This is allowing for multiple possibilities: speaking to a secretary first, speaking directly to him when I’m transferred, or getting voice mail (which really is the ideal situation). No matter what, I’m covered.

I do this with nearly every professional call I have to make, including calling parents when their kids are bad. This is something I’ve always done. Calling is a very last resort if I can’t take care of a situation via email or through someone else making the call for me. Does this make me weird? I submit that this is further evidence that I’m a writer. 🙂



What I Know about Swings

Posted: July 25, 2011 in Blog Carnival

Part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival hosted by Peter Pollock…

Swing low, sweet chariot. 
We actually sang this in show choir. I think we *may* have had one non-white member (can’t remember which year we sang this), and honestly he was really preppy and, well, dainty. The rest of us were upper-middle-class white kids, tryin’ our best to grow some soul. I’d give anything to hear a recording of just 14-year-old little me being as soulful as 14-year-old little me could be. Hahahahaha.

Swingin’ on the front porch.
This is my dream! Too bad we don’t have much of a porch at the house we just purchased! Don’t get me wrong; I loooooooove my new house. It’s bee-yoo-tee-full, and it’s all ours. (Actually, it’s JP Morgan Chase’s. For the next fifteen years, anyway.) As much as I looooooooooove my bee-yoo-tee-full new house, I have a very short list of things I don’t totally love. Not having a porch that’s big enough for a swing is one of them. Never mind that we can’t afford a swing in the first place.

Sa-wing, batta, batta, sa-wing!
I married into a baseball family. My husband probably held his first bat around one week of age, and he kept playing right through college and grad school. (He was lucky to play in grad school, since he was out of eligibility, but it was just a club team, so it didn’t matter.) His daddy played ball. His granddaddy played ball. I don’t know for sure, but I bet the line goes back as far as the existence of baseball does. One of the first things I purchased after our marriage five years ago was a little sign that reads, We interrupt this marriage for baseball season. I hung it in my kitchen, which is where my mother-in-law had a similar sign with the same sentiment. The first time my dear MIL saw it, she gently said, “You do know that’s true, right?” Oh yes. I also know that we interrupt this marriage for reading and writing, so… it evens out. 🙂

Mood swings.
I really couldn’t speak with any real knowledge on this subject. Sorry.


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.