Saturday, February 04, 2006

Bringing Out the Best

Ohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboy! We get to go for a walk with Dad! Ohboyohboyohboyohboyohboy!

Yup. That's Ridge, Elsie, and Baxter (L to R) coming back from their usual Saturday morning jaunt along the dirt roads around our house.

Ridge is a dream on lead. Baxter is a dream off lead. Elsie is still too untrained to be trusted either way. :o)

But they do love their romps with Dad.

And yes, this photo is recent; just a week or two old. Fifty- and sixty-degree weather here made January feel more like April.

But the canine kids loved it, especially since Mom (aka, me) has been trapped behind the computer trying to meet a book deadline (makes for less playtime for them).

And for the first time in 24 books (this is number 25 for me), I just couldn't do it. Even forcing myself to sit in front of the computer didn't make a difference. I couldn't meet the deadline.

For whatever reason, my writing well has been dry. Maybe it's because I've written so much on this book's topic already, and I've run out of creative ways to approach it. Maybe it's the recently overcast skies and the energy slump they bring (I'd die in Seattle). Maybe it's just that I've written 24 books in the last seven years, and I'm burnt out. Or maybe it's that I've been fighting a sinus infection, had a lump-in-my-breast scare (all is fine), and faced extra work hours and pressures for my day job--all in the last three weeks.

I haven't exercised in a week either (that makes a difference, too). But I've been good on the food plain: eating all the right things and avoiding the wrong ones.

Still, I've been tired.

And my head just wouldn't engage this book's topic. I tried. I really did: I glued my butt to the chair and wrote anyway. But the words fell flat; they just weren't up to my normal writing standard.

So I called my Very-Gracious-Editor (VGE) yesterday and explained my dilemma. I had never bailed on a contract, but was a hair's breadth away from doing so. I was that discouraged.

And VGE, bless her heart, gave me more time. She even understood. She didn't scold or lecture or sigh or attempt to manipulate me into a corner. She met me in friendship and grace. And because I'd been faithful on so many other book projects with her, I'd "earned the right" to some flexibility on this one.

What a relief. I feel like I can write again. Her grace invigorated me; completing this book doesn't look so impossible after all.

What a difference a few kind words make! Especially to someone (like me) who felt like a screw-up and failure.

I should remember that lesson. Even with the canine kids. When they mess up, sure they need correction, but they also need our encouragement and affirmation. VGE's support and willingness to work with me--to offer grace-filled understanding--is allowing me to perform my best now.

Could it be that the same attitude would bring the best out of the others in our lives (canines included)? Even when they disappoint us?

I don't know. But it can't hurt to try.

I know I'm better for it anyway.

'Til next time,


JuliaR said...

A good lesson, nicely written up. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I looked up your books at and saved the first one to my favorites list for possible future reading! Encouragement there!!!! Your books are all about people who really need help as they are below the floorboards. I would expect there to be slow times. It is not the same as churning out thrillers or romance novels with basically the same 2-3 plots, ya know!!!! Be Encouraged and CARRY ON........

Joan said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I'll admit, some of my books discuss very dark subjects, and yes, I write them to help people. But they do take their toll.

The "Refuge" book (the one BN lists first) is my favorite. It's also the most personal (you'll learn a LOT about me and my family in this book; something I couldn't do in the rest).

Enjoy. And if you have trouble getting it (it just went officially out of print), I can always send one to you. Just let me know.