Just Some Honesty (And Some Snippets)

Hello friends! *still being unable to think of a cool greeting* (Seriously, why do I always have the same sign-off but always a different salutation? 😂)

Anyways… on from that weirdness. Today I figured it was time for a little honest talk. And I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been staring at the blank page for like ten minutes here, trying to figure out the right way to say this. So I’m just gonna come out and say it, lol.

Discouragement.

Yup, that’s what I was gonna say.

The truth is I have been feeling quite discouraged lately. And I wasn’t going to say anything about it. But I was thinking about that and realized, I don’t wanna pretend that the writing life is always an easy one. I want to be honest about the struggles as well as the triumphs, because the truth is, being a writer is hard.

LIFE is hard.

And I want this blog to be a place where we can all support each other, and we don’t pretend everything goes smoothly all the time.

Maybe some GIFs can sum this up.

Me thinking about writing:

Courtesy of GIPHY

Me actually sitting down to write:

Of course those GIFs are of Kimmy, ’cause I love Kimmy! XD

But those literally sum up how I feel.

Time for some brutal honesty.

My story is burning up inside me. (Not trying to be dramatic, I PROMISE.) It’s taken my heart captive. Every time I think about it and dream about it and brainstorm for it, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Writing The Apostle’s Sister and The Anointed bring me joy, comfort, and a closeness to God I have never experienced before. And when the words flow from me, it’s like a piece of heaven. It IS a gift from God and all of heaven.

I just love TAS and The Anointed. I can never give up on them, because like I said, they have my heart prisoner. Besides Jesus himself, no one has changed my life or brought me into the sweetness of salvation more than St. Paul. Paul is the person God used above all other writers of the Bible, to draw me into the relationship with Christ I so desperately needed. That’s why when I decided to honor God through my writing, I knew my very first faith-filled book had to be about him.

Then came TAS and The Anointed. And in writing them, I grew even closer to Paul’s heart and the Christ-exalting truths he taught, and which still live on in God’s Word although he himself is waiting in the grave. That in turn drew me into God’s own heart and the beauty of Christ. By writing about Paul as a real person with real feelings just like mine (something I talk about a lot on this blog), I realized I am not alone in anything. And that’s the most liberating thing I’ve ever realized.

But then come the doubts. That I’m not worthy to be writing this beautiful story. Who gave me the authority to write about St. Paul the apostle as a real person?

The sluggishness.

The thoughts that I will never finish my story, let alone get it published. And I will never have the opportunity to comfort others through my words. Nothing is more heartbreaking, and I want so much to write.

But I sit down and the words won’t come. It’s like agony trying to drag them out. I type about one word into my Word doc every ten minutes.

That’s how I’ve been feeling every day lately, when I sit down and try to write. As a result, procrastination ensues, and self-doubt persists.

It’s tough, y’all.

TOUGH.

T-O-U-G-H.

(Ya got your point across, Joy.)

Hehe.

Right now things are tough for so many people. We’re still riding the waves of a pandemic, and there’s a lot going on. And one thing I wanna say is y’all, you don’t always have to pretend everything’s okay. It’s not complaining. It’s being honest. So thank you guys for letting me do that in this post, knowing everyone will be as kind and supportive as always. Seriously, I started this blog community only two months ago, and already it’s a family! I couldn’t be happier about that, and it really brings me so much encouragement when I read the comments about my story. And someone says they’d like to read it or it would inspire them. That means A LOT!

And I want to return the favor. So if you’re ever having a tough day, writing or life or just whatever; or you just want someone to talk to – I am here!

GIPHY

Yeah, now that I discovered GIPHY I’m of course using Fuller House GIFs. 😂

Okay, now it’s time for some snippets!

Though I didn’t get as much written in The Anointed this week as I wanted, I still want you guys to have some snippets from the very first couple chapters. They ARE very, very first-draft-y, but I hope y’all like them anyway! I want to share the journey of The Anointed, so here’s some of the beginning of it!

Myka begs me to sing with her. I decline and instead tell her to stop throwing sand.

“You’re getting it everywhere. Do you know, Myka….” I know this really is stupid, but I sometimes find myself telling my niece all my thoughts since there’s no one else to tell them to. “I feel something hasn’t been right with my parents ever since we left Miletus.”

This time she does stop throwing sand and listens curiously. That’s what I like best about her. She listens to everything I say.

“They just seem tense around each other,” I muse. “They’ve never been that way before. Mama doesn’t seem to like the idea of Uncle Paul going to Jerusalem. Then again, it doesn’t seem like anyone does. But Mama’s never tried to turn him away from anything before. She agrees with all his decisions. This time, though, it’s different. It’s almost like she’s secretly upset at him.”

Myka’s eyes and mouth hang open.

“I know,” I say. “What do you think is wrong? I haven’t been able to think of an idea. But every place we’ve stopped at, there’s been a lot of crying.” I think of the Ephesian elders at Miletus. After Uncle Paul gave that speech, they all wept aloud and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the children at Tyre. They came to the shore with their parents to see us off, but ended up almost making us stay. They cried and begged my uncle not to go until he looked ready to break. I even saw tears in his own eyes when he blessed them, and I could tell that occasion got my mother really scared. I’ll admit it did unnerve me. I’ve never seen him shed tears in front of me.

Note: Myka was not in the first draft of TAS, so she is a new character! She’s Paul’s grandniece, Temira’s granddaughter, Seth’s niece, and the daughter of Reuben and Mesi. In the first draft, Reuben and Mesi had no children, but I decided to change that. So I hope y’all like Myka. Here’s the next snippet!

Jerusha is eyeing me oddly. She waves at Philip’s home. “Do your father and mother live in that house?”

“I don’t have a father,” I say.

Her eyes widen. “What will you do then? Boys have to have fathers or they can’t do anything. Mamas can’t teach you anything.”

“I don’t… exactly… have a father.” I’ve never given much thought to this before. Uncle Paul has always been the father to me. “Just Uncle Paul. He teaches me.”

“That’s lucky,” she says. “But what happened to your father?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know about your own father?” She shakes her head.

“Did Mama love her husband?”

Reuben looks thoughtfully toward the hills, as if he can see things I can’t. “I think she did, at the end.”

I ponder that. “Why not until then? Haven’t you loved Mesi since you married her?”

“I have,” he says, “but it’s different. I suppose you’re old enough to know that there were – and still are – many who didn’t believe I should have married Mesi.”

“Why not?” I ask, confused.

“Because I’m a Jew, and she is an Egyptian woman. An unclean Gentile.” His laughter sounds irritated. “You and I and our parents are Jews, Seth. Moses’ law forbids intermarriage into other races, which we’re taught to hate. People like Mesi, like Luke, and like Timothy. Even little Myka.”

I’ve always known Reuben’s wife was Egyptian but never even considered that might be unusual. Luke is a Greek, and Timothy is something I’ve heard are called half-breeds. None of this has made any difference to me. “Do you mean to say there are people who hate Myka because she’s dark-skinned?”

When he answers yes, I’m appalled. Who hates a child like Myka? And as I said, I’ve always known Mesi was Egyptian but thought her even more beautiful for her rich skin. I wait for Reuben to go on.

“But when I finally broke down and told Uncle Paul I was in love with an Egyptian girl, I was shocked at his reaction. I thought he would be angry, but instead he went to Mesi’s father. She became my betrothed, and I realized all Uncle Paul and Mother wanted for me was a woman who loved the Lord. It wasn’t that way with Mother’s marriage. She was given to the man of her parents’ choosing.”

So much new information. “Do you mean Mama couldn’t marry someone she loved, the same you married Mesi because you loved her?”

Reuben smiles ruefully. “That’s right. Her father forced her into the marriage.”

This is among the only few things I’ve been told about Mama’s and Uncle Paul’s parents. “Is that why Mama doesn’t talk about him? Her husband, I mean. Did she ever tell you about him?”

“She did once, long ago.”

“What is it like to have a father, Reuben?”

He studies me as if he’s trying to figure out something. “My father died before I was born.”

I’m surprised. I did not know this, because no one thinks to tell me anything. I suppose Reuben and I have something in common – neither of us knew our fathers. But Reuben has a true mother, while Mama only calls me her son. “Who taught you then, Reuben? Je—” I’m about to tell him about Jerusha, but decide against it. For some reason I don’t want anyone to know yet that I’ve actually made a friend. “I mean, I heard someone say that if a boy doesn’t have a father he can’t learn anything, that a mama can’t teach him.”

“Uncle Paul raised me, same as he’s raising you,” Reuben says. “I was three years old when he came to us in Tarsus, just as you were three years old when he and Mama adopted you.”

I know this, of course; Reuben’s told me. Mama and Uncle Paul raised him in Tarsus, their childhood town, for nine years before Uncle Paul began ministry elsewhere. However, something bothers me. The way Jerusha talked about me not knowing my father is nagging at me. What was my father like?

My uncle has peculiarities. He’s a solemn man, whether he’s addressing a synagogue or speaking to me when I go to his lap in the evenings. When he smiles, it’s slow and almost too stoic to be happy. He laughs so seldom that when he does, the sound actually scares me, when nothing else about him scares me at all. His laugh is deep and dry; he doesn’t joke with me as other uncles do with their nephews.

I’m not surprised, though, that he doesn’t have a sense of humor. I don’t see that he has much reason to smile or laugh, either; I certainly don’t and I’ve only been a witness to everything that’s happened. I often wonder if he’s even happy; as I said, his smile doesn’t seem it and he seldom laughs. I wish I could do something to make him happy. My mother, too. Somehow I get the feeling youth was taken quickly from her eyes, though her face and form are like a girl’s. Might it have something to do with Reuben’s father Naboth, as well as everything she’s seen done to her brother?

If anything, though, I seem to bring my parents more grief. I wonder if I imagine it, but it seems Uncle Paul’s eyes are shadowed whenever he looks at me. I wonder if they even wanted another kid to raise. They were too kind not to adopt me, and they’re the first people to ever make me feel loved, but did they want it? If I hadn’t so inconveniently appeared in their lives, would they be happy? Or at least happier than they are now?

I would rather have died from that illness, if my being here causes them unhappiness. I’ve never loved anyone more than I love them, and I’m not what they deserve. Uncle Paul’s mission isn’t what he deserved in the first place, and neither is Mama’s lot in it. I reflect that life – or rather God – hasn’t been very good to my parents.

Okay! I decided to share those three snippets today. If y’all want a snippet or two every week, let me know. Or if you’d rather be kept in suspense, let me know that, too!

All three snippets are very reflective, not a lot of action. That’s because right now I’m trying to get a feel for Seth’s POV. I need to learn about his unique voice, especially since he’s a young child, and it can often be tough to consider what a seven-year-old might be thinking.

And as you can see, I’m using first person present tense for The Anointed! That’s a style I’m not used to, so it’s a fun challenge. And it works better for delving into the mind of a child – it helps me get deeper into Seth’s thoughts. So I’m getting a feel for that as well.

Later, though, I will change it so there’s much more action in the first chapters. If I left it as it is right now, it would be way too boring. Those snippets aren’t the most exciting, and probably weren’t the most interesting for you to read, but I hope you liked catching a glimpse of The Anointed in the making!

Before I close, though, I’m going to give y’all a little snippet from TAS! These small paragraphs are actually some of my favorites in TAS, and I haven’t shared them yet, so I decided to do that now. Hope you guys enjoy!

The Lord himself had caught her brother up to the third heaven. Paul had seen this for himself. When she must tell him the news, she would comfort him with those words, as he had commanded the Thessalonians.

            Temira gave thanks to God for Paul, for without him Reuben would have had a sorrowful childhood as they did, and she wouldn’t have Seth at all. She blew a kiss of prayer from her lips to the Antonia Fortress where he was being held. The Lord Jesus Christ was with him.

            She did not know that indeed, the Lord was with him. She did not know that at this very moment in the fortress, Jesus Christ stood in shining glory with his comforting hand on her weeping brother’s shoulder, saying to him, “My beloved servant, do not be afraid.”

That last paragraph literally gives me a chill. Just imagining Jesus standing there in his full-blown glory, with Paul in his cell, is just… chills! And Temira gazing at the prison, praying that Jesus will keep her brother safe, not knowing that Jesus himself is LITERALLY standing… right… there… in plain sight… comforting Paul. CHILLS!

I love that part in the book of Acts – it brings tears to my eyes. I’m actually going to insert those verses here, because it’s Jesus’ promise to us as well as to Paul. He always comforts. And he’ll give me the courage to write my story, just as he gave Paul courage to keep preaching while in chains.

I love the King James Version of these verses, because the fancy old language gives me even MORE chills! XD So here’s fancy King James for ya:

And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

Acts 23:11 (KJV)

That’s a good note to end on.

God bless!

You know the drill – eat, pray, write, repeat!

Joy

22 thoughts on “Just Some Honesty (And Some Snippets)

Add yours

  1. I’m so glad you shared this! Writing is not easy for sure. And trying to write biblical fiction can be even harder because you’re trying to stay true to the biblical account and the historical context while still creating an interesting story. I loved reading your snippets! I think they’re interesting because they give a glimpse into what the characters are like, which I love. And wow, that verse at the end is powerful! I don’t remember ever reading that, but what a comfort that is.
    Anyway, I just want to encourage you that you are not alone. I struggle with discouragement a lot too (I’ve actually been procrastinating on my writing project for the past six months, lol!). But the Lord really does give grace and strength to write, even on the hard days. And it sounds like you already have a great start on your book, so great job! I just want to encourage you to keep going even when it’s hard. It really will be worth it in the end. ❤

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    1. Oh, thank you, Kristianne! Writing is definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And yeah, I can recall a few times when I planned something and research in the Bible proved it wouldn’t be accurate.
      Yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed them! I’ll admit I worried they’d be too boring to share. Acts 23:11 is such an awesome verse!
      Awww, thank you so much for all of this. You literally just convinced me to keep trying. Grace and strength. I love those words. Thanks for commenting and giving me all this encouragement! 💗

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Awww, I totally understand about the discouragement. I’ve been in the same boat since about last August. We have these stories hovering on our fingertips and storming against the confines of our minds, but it feels like an emotional chain holds us back from writing.
    The thing I’ve been trying to remember is God gave me this story for a reason. Even if I write only one hundred words a day, I’m still moving toward fulfilling that reason, albeit at the pace of a frozen slug stuck in peanut butter.
    Loved the book snippets! Keep writing and reaching out. What is the writing community for if not encouraging each other?

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! That’s a relief to hear I’m not the only one who gets discouraged. You described that SO perfectly! Couldn’t have said it better. And that’s true – I mean a fly eats an elephant one bite at a time, right? 😂
      Thanks! That’s why I love this community!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing!!! I can relate a lot!!! My WIP sounds so amazing in my head and whenever I write it flows, but actually sitting down to write…. :/ I am here for you Joy!!!!
    Those snippets sounded amazing!!! Keep up the great writing!!!

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  4. Yes, being a writer is hard and often the most discouraging thing we do. Most writers are alone in what they do – they don’t always have writing friend around who can encourage them. I love writing so much but I don’t write a lot because I have this fear that writing isn’t meant for me. JC, you ARE worthy to write your stories. YOU are the one with the ideas. God gave those story ideas to YOU for YOU to write. No one else can write your novel. There’s this awesome quote that goes, “she believed she could and so she did”! You can do anything you set your mind to. You can climb any mountain. I BELIEVE you can!!!!!!!!!<33333333

    Also, those two gifs of Kimmy totally sum up how I am about writing most of the time.😂 And your snippets were BEYOND A-MA-ZZING!!!!!!!!!!!! ILOVEALLTHESNIPPETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!😃😃😃😃😃 Myka seems like an awesome character and my heart tugs for Seth!!!!!! Anytime I read about a character I care about I totally love it!!!!!!!!! And seeing Jesus at the end of the last snippet was THE. BEST. THING. EVER.

    Like

    1. Yep. I can’t talk to my friends about writing life because they don’t feel about it the same as I do. It can be quite a lonely thing. And I can completely relate to that fear. I’m so afraid whenever I open my Word doc. It’s not just typing words onto a doc. It’s really a huge thing. But knowing your passion for writing, it truly is meant for you!!
      Thank you! I love that quote. Aww, girl, you’re so sweet.
      Kimmy is such a mood for everything! 😂 Yay, I am so glad you enjoyed the snippets! And yes, I agree, Seth is forced to go through a lot for such a young kid.
      Yay, you liked the last snippet!!! I just LOVE that last paragraph. I know that’s one part of TAS I’m never gonna change.

      Like

  5. Everything that you’re feeling is completely valid and a natural part of the writer’s life. There will always be days of doubts and struggles, days when the words just won’t flow, or days when you feel like you’ll never get where you want to be. But you’ve got this! Especially since you said this story is so rooted into your heart and soul. When an idea is that burns that bright inside of you, it will go somewhere, because that is the sort of energy that creates determination. The road won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. It may take a while, but that’s okay, because you will grow as a person and a writer from the experience, and in the end, your book will be exactly what it’s meant to be.
    I admire your decision to share the struggles of your craft. I feel like a lot of people only want to broadcast the glamorous, envy-inducing parts of the process, but the low-points are just as much a part of all this. They are real, inevitable, and it’s healthy to acknowledge that we all experience them. No one is alone in that regard.
    Best of luck to you in all your writing! You’ve got this! I believe in you!

    Like

    1. Aww, thank you so much! *breathes a sigh of relief that there’s nothing wrong with me*
      Wow, I really needed to hear that. I feel so much pressure to get things done fast, and needed this reminder that writing a book takes a long time. Even my favorite book by my favorite author took three years for her to write, and then it inspired millions. So I’m gonna keep this in mind not to rush it. And yes, it was never gonna be easy but it was always gonna be worth it. 💗 Thanks! That means a lot to me, especially since I was wondering whether posting this would be “negative.”
      Thank you for this whole comment!!

      Like

  6. I’m sorry you feel discouraged!!!! I’ve been there, everyone has and it’s a tough place to be but there’s always an end to it. I love how your writing for Jesus!!! You’re spreading his word and it makes me want to spread it with you!! And even if it’s hard for you to open your word doc, I know that you can do it because you can do hard things!! The fact that you are able to spread God’s word through writing is an AMAZING gift!!!!! You have got this and we’ll all be cheering you on because your story is worth writing!! It’s is worth every single second you put into it!!! You have a gift and I want to encourage you to use it!!!! Go spread God’s word to the people who need it!!!! Someone might read your book one day and it could be the thing that brings them to Jesus!!! I, and everyone else here, believes in you!!! We all have your back!! *hugs* *motivational chocolate* *more hugs*

    I also loved the snippets!!!!!!! You are such a gifted writer!!! And just aahhhh! I have no words for them!! Your snippets left me speechless!!! GREAT JOB!!!!!!! *heart eyes*

    Like

    1. Aww, thank you so much for this whole comment. It made me smile as I read, and I honestly feel less stressed now. Literally, this is all so sweet I don’t know what to say. 💗
      It’s such a comfort to know there’s a reason God put this story on my heart! And that he put amazing people like you in my life to keep me going. Thank you!! *gobbling up the motivational chocolate* *sending you virtual hugs back*
      Thanks!! I’m so glad you liked the snippets!!!

      Like

      1. You’re welcome!!!! I’m so glad it helped. Aww, thank you!! *sends more motivational chocolate because you can never have too much*

        Like

  7. GIRL!!!!! Your snippets are EPICNESS!!!!!!!! I LOOOOOVED THEM SOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!!!! Seth is just an AWESOME protagonist! I LOVE what you’re doing there with telling the story through the eyes of a child!!! And I can tell you’re doing a great job finding his own unique voice!!!!!!!! Anyway, I hope you’re not feeling as discouraged as you was!!!! <33 Just know that I'm praying for God to give you the motivation, inspiration, and the words to write these stories!!!! They are BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!! <33 *hugs and gives you chocolate for motivation* I also adore that verse at the end!!!! It's actually motivating me as well!!!!! ('Cause I've been pretty down for some time now.)

    Like

    1. Aww, thank you, Issa! It’s definitely a challenge to write through a child’s perspective, but interesting to put myself into those shoes. (Or sandals in Seth’s case, haha.)
      I’ve been feeling a lot better about my writing lately! I’ve been able to get out quite a few words this week, by just sitting down and writing whatever comes to mind. The manuscript is a mess, but what else is editing for? XD
      I really appreciate your prayers. I am praying for you as well. If there’s ever anything I can do for you just let me know!

      Liked by 1 person

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