Sick of Scared

I’m sick of being too scared to go after my dreams.

I’ve been scared since I started my internship–of the time commitment, of my cohort, of being honest, of the emotions being stirred up, of the emotions I face every day. 

And I’ve been scared of my dreams–of writing, of becoming a pastor. They both seem too huge and impossible and overwhelming that I don’t even know where to start. There are so many places I could submit my work. Where do I choose? How do I choose? What kind of writer am I? How do I gather up the courage to keep submitting and keep writing and keep submitting and keep writing when I get rejection notices, when I am exhausted after work, when there’s too much to write about and not enough  time? How do I gather the courage to write my final sermon and write my pastor resume and write my statement of faith when, the longer I’m away from seminary, the more I wonder if I could ever actually be a pastor? How do I convince people that I’d be a good pastor when I’m not sure?

I don’t know. But I’m sick of giving in to my fear. I’m sick of avoiding my love of writing and my love of pastoring because I’m afraid. I’m sick of avoiding, period. I’m sick of being too scared to go after my dreams.

Here I go again, then. Chasing my dreams, one step at a time. One step isn’t overwhelming: one blog post, one poem, researching one magazine, writing one pitch. One step isn’t overwhelming: looking up one Hebrew word, answering one question, writing one sentence of my statement of faith.

I refuse to give up on my dreams.

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Books!!

I’ve been reading so, so much lately. My internship is exhausting, emotionally and physically, and when I come home I often just can’t face writing. So I’ve been reading instead, books full of emotions that help me work through some of what I experience at work.  I’ve had amazing luck in my choices lately, and thought I would share what I’ve been reading. 

Certain Women by Madeleine L’Engle – As much as I love L’Engle’s children’s books, I adore her adult fiction in an entirely different way. It’s honest and vulnerable, full of interesting characters and profound thoughts and tragedies and joys. And so when I saw this one in a library, I knew I wanted to read it. It’s the story of an actor named David, framed around the David story from the Bible–they have the same number of wives, and equally troubled family lives. Some of the action was utterly unsurprising, since I am familiar with the David story, but it was a beautiful novel. I cried a lot. I wrote quotes down. The characters were real and flawed and struggling. For a hint of how well L’Engle writes characters, I cried at the death of a character who’d been in the novel for twenty pages.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larson – Absolutely fantastic. I love Larson’s writing style, which is descriptive of real life: he tells you what characters ate for breakfast, what they put on, everything they do in a way that isn’t boring but makes them and the scenes feel real. It feels like this action could be happening in real life. The people feel real. I’ve always thought it was a great way to write a mystery. 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – The story of a German orphan in Germany during World War II, narrated by Death–yes, it’s about as happy as you’d expect, but it was also brilliantly written. Rather than being morbid or pessimistic, it was both honest and woven through with threads of hope. It was a wonderful, powerful story of the power of words and actions both.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd –  The story of the abolitionist Grimké sisters as well as the story of their fictional slave girl, Handful. It was a story about women and resistance both loud and quiet, about growing up and discovering who you are and finding out what you are meant to do. Lots of good characters, and beautiful writing. 

Still Alice by Lisa Genova – The story of a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when she’s in her fifties, this was a story that was heartbreaking and powerful, but also humanizing. I hear about the struggles of families of Alzhimer’s patients, but little about the struggles and fears of the. Patients themselves. 

The Moor by Laurie R. King – a reread, because I bought this book for 30¢ at a local thrift store. I adore Mary Russell, who’s intelligent and humanly flawed, and they’re smart, enjoyable mysteries even when I’ve read the book multiple times before. 

A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King – Another reread, but one of my favorite Mary Russell novels. Russell changes a lot through the book, and there’s a lot of theology and women’s rights talk.

As you can imagine, there has been a lot of tears and a lot of emotions, but in a good way. It’s been healing and beautiful.

What have you been reading? What should I read next?

Life

It’s been insane.

The good kind of insane, mostly: multiple graduations in the family, including my own; packing and moving and cleaning; settling into a new place that I know is only temporary; starting a new full-time chaplaincy internship while also continuing the church work I’ve been doing; worrying about everything I need to have done by the end of the summer but haven’t had the time or energy to start yet. It’s been good, but it’s been crazy.

I’m still figuring out this whole 8-5 thing. It’s been a while since I’ve worked a job like that. I’m still figuring out how to be me and how to sleep enough and take care of myself enough and do the things I love and when I can possibly write without it coming out as gibberish. I’m still figuring out this place that I’m in, and it doesn’t help that it’s highly temporary.

At the beginning of September, I have a meeting to see if I can move to the next step of the ordination process.

I’m trying to give myself grace. There’s only so much that I can do. There’s only so much that I should do. If I come out of this summer an emotional wreck, my meeting will be that much more difficult. Not that I’m currently feeling like an emotional wreck, because I’m not. But I’d also like it to stay that way.

This post isn’t me saying I’m never posting again, don’t worry. It’s an explanation of why I haven’t been posting much lately, and a warning that the sporadic posting will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

How are your Summer’s going?

What is success?

As I prepare to graduate, and as I approach the date with no long-term plans for afterwards, I find myself thinking about my writing. My prospects are slim for getting a job straight out of my summer internship, and one goal I have is to make writing more than a hobby.  More than something I do in odd moments and only for myself. 

That goal feels so far away. The viewing numbers of this blog are pathetic. My novels are all half-written at best. The list of publications I’ve been paid to write for is nowhere close to becoming a double-digit number. The money I make from writing is barely a trickle. 

Yet, when I list my writing achievements to others, they are always impressed, even enthusiastic. “That’s so amazing!” they say, with utter sincerity, and “You could do far worse than the places you’ve been published in so far.” 

I have accomplished something as a writer. Sure, there’s more to do, more I’d like to do–always–but I have written pieces and reached goals that are worth celebrating. Sure,  I haven’t reached the point where I could live off of my writing, but I do make money, and I’ve worked hard and reached so many mile marks in the past year alone. Having farther I’d like to go doesn’t mean I haven’t already come far. I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished so far but still have more that I dream of doing.

So, that’s where I am right now: proud of what I’ve accomplished, but dreaming and planning and writing still.

Discovering Joy

I haven’t been writing much lately, as you can see. In one way, this is a source of deep sorrow; my soul cries out for that experience again. But I’ve discovered so many other sources of joy, sources that have crowded out writing: the joy of food, cooked and savored and eaten with others; the joy of summer evening walks; the joy of late-night conversations, when the walls seem to come down and you’re mutually vulnerable and forgiving; the joys of spending time with friends, to leisurely have a cup of tea or a meal or watch a movie together; the joys of moving through life slowly, stopping to watch a butterfly or examine a flower or admire a beautiful old building.

I need to start writing again. I have several projects in the works, deadlines starting to loom, but it has been an amazing few weeks. I’ve learned to savor, to slow down, to enjoy things I’ve never made time for before. I love discovering joy in unexpected places!

Currently, vol. 1

(These prompts came from michmash, one of my favorite blogs)

Feeling: Tired. It was a long day at work, and I couldn’t sleep last night. It’s an odd mix with the energy I just got from going on a walk. I’m loving the non-seasonal cloudy, cool weather here!

Craving: Chocolate, always. And a day to myself.

Watching: Nothing, actually. I just finished rewatching the good episodes of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, which I adore even though Miss Fisher is one of the worst role models ever. The sets and music are just so beautiful! And soon I’ll be starting the last season of White Collar, another show I adore despite the utter lack of morality.

Listening: To Star Wars soundtracks. What gorgeous, inspiring music!

Drinking: Water.

Reading: C. S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy. I bought it from a library sale for $1, having no idea what it was about. It’s Lewis’ autobiography, and I find it so relatable.

Planning: Tomorrow: what to write, how to finish my library book on time, and how much of other important things to try and fit in.

Making: A scrap rug and a scarf for a friend. Both projects are starting to seem never-ending.

Cooking: Ha! Does putting cheese on bread and sticking it in the oven count? Because I just did that a few hours ago.

Thinking: Hm. About how the Bible isn’t just a resource for theology, but so much more. About the joy that comes from doing things slowly. About the importance of relationships, and making time for them. About what to write!

Loving: Cool and cloudy weather! Also good food of all varieties, and the chance to talk to friends. It’s been a good day.