A Prayer for Old Age

Dearest Heavenly Father–Papa–my life is just as much in Your hands as it’s always been, and I have many things to be thankful for and nothing of a particularly selfish nature to ask You for. Sure, I can think of a few things that would be nice to have, but they’re not the least necessary at this stage of my life. If they were, I feel confident You would provide them.

No, this prayer isn’t about things.

I do have concerns about my future, however. Not my eternal future, of course. I know I’ll be living with You among millions–probably billions–of other Christians when it’s my turn to “move” to Heaven.

At seventy-one, I’m not really very old. Even so, I’m conscious of the fact I’m getting older. I sense it daily. My body is no longer capable of doing things that used to be so simple, and my mind struggles all too frequently trying to remember a familiar word or the name of someone I know well. Those limitations are frightening.

But they’re are all part of aging, and it would be foolish to pray to avoid them. Instead I ask Your help in accepting and living with those limitations.

Lord, You know my greatest desire is to use the talents You’ve given me to serve You and to share the Good News of salvation with other people. You understand my frustrations at not being good at using the spoken word to do that. I’m thankful for the writing skills and musical abilities You’ve blessed me with and the spiritual truths You’ve given me to share with other people.

And the opportunities You’ve given me to share.

I’m thankful I can still participate in the nursing home ministry and share audio and video recordings of some of my songs on my website–and through YouTube. I take great pleasure in having many of my Christian novels published–and in hoping they will bless and entertain numerous readers.

Even so, the time may come when I can no longer sing or play my guitar, and the time may come when I’m no longer able to write. A time may even come when I don’t know who or where I am.

Papa God, I can’t pray “against” aging, but I beg You to keep me spiritually active to the very end. And to keep me so close to You that nothing else matters.

Please use me any way You choose…to the very end. Amen.

Do you have a prayer for old age? How about leaving a comment? 

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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Why Write?

When I tell people I’m an author and have three published novels–I rarely bother to mention that I also have two self-published books of my shorter writing–they think it’s pretty nifty. I suppose the average person hasn’t met many authors, much less actual novelists. Even a writer friend at church who I think is very good at writing nonfiction admires my writing and admits he could never write a novel. He  doesn’t have the imagination.

Strangely enough, however, I don’t recall anyone ever asking me why I write. Of course, people who know I write Christian fiction probably assume my writing is an outgrowth of my faith. Although that’s accurate, there’s more to it than that.

It’s easy to dismiss the reasons for writing that don’t fit.

I don’t write for fame or even recognition. Yes, it MIGHT be nice to walk into a bookstore and have some shy individual approach me cautiously and ask, “Aren’t you…?” Then he struggles to remember which well-known writer I am.

No, that wouldn’t work for me. I’d rather be a nobody. Like Emily Dickinson. (If you don’t get this reference, look up the poem “I’m Nobody, Who Are You?”) My writings are more important than I am.

I don’t write for money, either. Yes, I received a decent advance for each of my first two novels, but sales never paid back those advances. Truth be known, because so much of book marketing falls on the shoulders of the author, The Devil and Pastor Gus has not only earned less than $2o in the two years it’s been out, whatever royalties it has earned have gone back to my publisher to help pay for their marketing efforts.

Nope, money’s never going to happen, and I’m just as happy. My wife and I are not overly materialistic, and I don’t want to become addicted to THINGS the way I was when I was younger. We’re not rich. Nowhere close to it. But we’re comfortable. We have what we need–everything we need–and a little bit more. God sees to that.

So why write?

God has given me writing talent and helped me to develop it. He’s also given me creativity and an imagination. Failing to use those gifts would be a slap in His face. He’s never led me to believe He wants me to become a success as the world sees it. But He has given me a number of spiritual insights I didn’t have when I was younger, and He seems to want me to express them through fiction. It’s as simple as that.

When I sign a book, I typically write, “I pray this book may both bless and entertain you.” I mean it.

When I started writing this post, I had a couple of other things I wanted to talk about, but I’m at a comfortable stopping place now. I’ll use my next post to talk about what I’m leaving out now.

What about you? Do you write? If so, why? If not, why not? Has God given you some other talent that you are using for Him? Or one you should be using for Him? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Pantser or Plotter?

I don’t usually talk about writing on this blog. Mostly because I doubt that many of you are writers or that I would have anything of value to contribute to your knowledge.

However, several times recently I’ve been asked a question about my WIP (work in progress), and I’ve ended up explaining the difference between pantsers and plotters and how that relates to my writing.

Here’s the nutshell version. A plotter outlines the whole novel–I’ve heard of authors who have fifty or sixty pages of details all written down in proper outline form. He or she knows exactly where the story is going and follows the outline carefully. It’s rare that the plotter deviates from the plan. The plotter doesn’t let his characters take over the story and do their own thing.

I’ve never been a strict plotter. I don’t outline–hated that in school, hate it even more now. But what I normally do–I say “normally” because that’s what I’ve done with my three published novels and my nine unpublished ones–is to create a list of bullet points, different things I know must happen in the story, and arrange and fit them within the format of a three-act play. I know which events cause other events to happen.

My bullet points fill anywhere from four to eight pages, and it usually takes me weeks to complete that document. I feel as if I don’t dare to start the actual writing until I’ve finished my bullet point mock-outline. At the same time, I’m so familiar with my overall story by then that I seldom–if ever–look at that document while doing the actual writing.

Occasionally I’ll let the characters take over for a short time, but I don’t let them lead me away from following my carefully chosen course.

“Pantsers” are people who write “by the seat of their pants.” They have an idea and they plunge right into writing their story. They have a lot of fun simply being creative and letting things happen as they may. Their first draft is apt to need a HUGE amount of revising because it’s apt to have some irrelevant rabbit holes–perhaps little side trails that don’t really contribute to the story–that need to be changed or eliminated. But boy! did they have fun writing that first draft.

I’ve always admired pantsers who end up with a good book, but I’ve never wanted to be one. I couldn’t be one. I have to know what’s going to happen when and how we get from point A to point B to point C. I’m too rational and too logical to just write and let the story evolve that way.

But something unexpected happened in working on my WIP. I’d come up with the idea for PLAY THE RIGHT GAME three or four years ago. I had an eight-page bullet point document and had even written the first chapter.

But then–for what reason I don’t recall–I left my plans for PLAY THE RIGHT GAME in my UNFINISHED NOVELS folder and moved on to something different.

Sometime last year I was at the point of needing to start a new novel. I looked through a list of ideas I maintain for possible future use and stopped at PLAY THE RIGHT GAME. I didn’t hear an audible voice, but it was almost as if God was saying, “This is the one. Go for it.”

I wasn’t about to argue with God, so I started working on it again. But I didn’t feel very enthusiastic. The original idea just didn’t turn me on. I tried to create a new bullet point document, but it just wasn’t coming. So I wrote a new Chapter One.

And oh! did that chapter change my thinking. I introduced a new character, one I’d expected to play a very minor role in the story, and realized she was going to be a major character. And I introduced two male characters, both of whom were major players.

Suddenly I had the potential for a double romance story with multiple conflicts over which woman would end up with which man.

I’ve written 65,000 words now out of an anticipated 80,000, and I’ve allowed my characters to do their own things and steer the story in a somewhat different direction that I’d intended originally. Somewhat different? Ha! This story is nothing at all like I’d originally intended.

And there’s no telling what twists and turns will take place within the final 15,000 words. But it will be interesting. Hopefully something my readers will love.

So for once in my life I’ve ignored logic and care and thrown caution to the wind and let my creative spirit take over. But even if PLAY THE RIGHT GAME proves highly successful, I sure hope God doesn’t lead me to write this way again.

But if He does, I’ll do my best to count on Him for my novels to flow the way He wants them to flow and to say the things He wants them to say.

What do you think? If you’re not a writer–or even if you are–would you be a plotter or a pantser? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger