What’s changing, so that I can be writing!

This is such a busy time for folks with kids.  We are living the last month or so of school and for whatever reason my kids seem to teeter on the brink of things this year academically, spiritually, emotionally — this has been a challenging and demanding year.  With summer looming, there will be any opportunities to stick our feet in the river and less time to write.

I am thinking about that tension.

I’m starting to work more seriously on writing projects. As I listened hard at the Festival of Faith & Writing  and looked at my writing life and habits, I realize that I need to cut back on some things before I can ever dream of space to write every day.  (I know I have a lot to tell you about that experience, the festival.  We’ve been back a week and there’s been no time!)

Projects that I’m working on:

I am working on a book review of the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer for The Englewood Review of Books and hope to do more of those, both for Englewood and other publications.

I continue to write for Provoketive magazine:  This included a review of  the book Resignation of Eve by Jim Henderson, a piece titled The Accidental Stay-At-Home Mom and others, but by far the most popular essay was The Voice of the Feminine.  That content is not repeated here on my blog  so you will have to pop over to there to read it.  I hope you will.

I am working on a short series of articles on “The F word and the Church.” (Yeah, that F word: feminist.)

I am really excited to hear that I will have some poem in a book about fear titled Not Afraid to be published around August, 2012 by Civitas Press.  (This is the same press that published my essay on Depression in their book Not Alone which is available now. If you know someone who suffers from depression this book may help.  I have been told by many people that it has been a good, honest resource.  I also have many pieces on my blog about my personal trials with the black dog of depression.  They are collected here. )

What I want to change:

One thing that I find to be soul crushing and destructive for me is Facebook.  Being at-home with such great flexibility to my schedule  I see that I allow many things to interfere with the “work” of writing and with spiritual growth.  Facebook is such a time waster for me.  I’m inherently curious, nosy kind of person and the fact that I can vicariously follow along other’s lives is bad for me.  That’s where the soul crushing part comes in.   It’s like high school insecurity all over again.  So I’ve been tempted to quit completely.

Image by JJ Pacres on Flickr

But at the Festival of Faith & Writing I heard over and over that writers must have online presence and following.  We have to nurture that and  be able to “prove” our popularity to a publisher.   But the flip side of that is that it is just not good for me!

If I don’t have time

to think,

to be,

to write and

to allow the Holy One to mold and move me (not really in that order.)

So I’m backing off of social media  for a season — except here.  I’m really going to try to do this moderately.  When I got hooked on Farmville (of all things — proves I can get addicted to anything!) I had to quit cold turkey and I did.  I don’t want to do that with Facebook because I don’t like being an all or nothing person.  But I’m going to try to limit my time there.  And set some writing goals for the next few months.  I look forward to sharing those with you.

Another thing that I learned at the festival was that I need to hone the purpose of my blog.  Mine has multiple messages and intents.  I have been known to write about:

  1. family (dysfunctional and otherwise.)
  2. God and devotion, faith and (dis)belief
  3. women in the church, feminism as a Christian’s option
  4. various justice issues
  5. my alcoholism and addictions
  6. my church – Blackhawk Evangelical Church
  7. poetry on all these topics
  8. prose on all these topics

Is there anything in particular that you come here to read?  Where do you see my passions and strengths converging in helpful ways?  Would you add more of anything?

Grace & Peace. Melody

Simplify Stupid. If only it were that Simple.

I’ve done a lot of writing of late and that has led to a lot of chores piling up.  When chores collect one begins to notice how much stuff we have around the edges of life.  Why is that?  A few things occur to me:

  • I look around my home and of course I have miles and miles of books — if they were stacked end to end.  There are more books that I will ever read, but they are on issues that I care about.  I have several books ideas of my own in the works and many of those books relate to research topics.  Still, why do I need to own so many?
  • Looking in my closet this weekend, my son asked me “Mom, does the Goodwill pay you to take their clothes?”  Ha ha, very funny. Though I don’t think he was trying to be funny.  It was ironic and too close to home.  His point was that I own a lot of clothes!  You can read about my year of no new clothes here and here.  I do have an issue with buying tons of clothing.
  • We have some friends who are downsizing from a house to an Airstream with two kids in tow and it sounds like a dream project.  I haven’t had a chance to hear their story in person but I am fascinated by the idea.

Christmas is coming.  How do we face the challenge of consumerism vs. living out our giving with integrity?  And why do we collect so much stuff when in total honesty much of it remains untouched? Is this a matter of simply needing to be clearing out more often to reappropriate things to the next family that could use them whether it is toys, clothing, gaming systems, movies or books?  Or should this be a conversation about buying less.  And about the value of simplicity?

A singer and artist I appreciate for the poetry of her words, Carrie Newcomer, said this on Facebook today:

I have a sense that simplifying is not about denial and lack, but rather about getting rid of what does not ultimately give life and deeper meaning to our lives. If we got rid of what clutters and fills our lives to the very edges – what would happen in those open spaces? What do you think?

How do you teach yourself the discipline of reappropriating things?  Why is this important? What do you do to simplify, remove clutter and create space in your life?  What would you do differently if you had the mental and physical space?  What resources have you found that help you?