Monday, July 17, 2017

7 Book Character Types I Will Never Tire Of



It happens to all of us.
We pickup a new book, begin reading, and then BAM! a new character pops up on the pages and you’re just like “WELL HELLOOO THERE.”


Normally I’d say instalove is nonsense. Buuut let’s be honest here. With some characters, it takes us rabid readers 0.2 seconds to fall in love with them and call them our baby and send threatening letters to the authors that our Baby must never, ever, ever be harmed even whilst we’re reading about them being tortured and probably dying because the best characters always die.


BEING A BOOKWORM IS HARD OKAY.


But we just keep reading anyway because, ya know, BOOKS. Books bring us precious characters to love and adore and fangirl/boy over and cry about and YES. CHARACTERS. 100% my favorite part about reading and writing and just being a fangirl all around. (Even when character deaths leave a permanent scar in my heart.)


For all of us, I believe we have specific types of characters we tend to gravitate toward. The kind that, no matter what, you’re going to love them and their book. ALWAYS. Who cares if the plot is dumb and all the other characters make watching paint dry an exciting activity??? This book has THIS TYPE of character in it so NATURALLY YOU LOVE IT.


I have lots of types of characters I love and adore (really, it’s probably getting unhealthy). But today I’m going to list 7 types that make my fangirl heart putter and give me an uncontrollable urge to hug the book and yell at everyone in the universe to read it.

 

. . . THE ANTIHEROES . . .


If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, YOU KNEW THIS WAS COMING. I’m not exactly quiet about my undying love for antiheroes. *cough* BUT THEY’RE SO INTERESTING.


Antiheroes are those characters who aren’t exactly bad, but definitely not good either. They’re usually out for their own gain, and don’t care how they get it. Sometimes they’ll work for the bad guys, sometimes they’ll help the good ones out, but they’re nooot exactly in the business of saving the world.


So why do I love them so much? Well, for one thing, they’re such an intriguing (and sometimes scary) picture of the human race. Usually, at some point, the antihero has to make a choice: To fight for good or join the dark side. And isn’t that how it is for all of us? We can’t all live in the “in between” forever. We’re either for God for against Him.


I’m also head over heels for any type of big character arc, and antiheroes pretty much always have one. My faaaaaavorite kind are the antiheroes who start out mostly bad but end up joining the heroes in the end. SO MUCH SQUEALING. SO MUCH HAPPINESS. Though the characters who at first are sorta good but then slowly spiral into villiany also greatly intrigue me. (Just not if it’s like a protagonist or something. Don’t get me wrong, I do not condone villainy for our heroes. Pleeease give me heroes that are good and wholesome, people!)


Examples:

Thorne (The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)
Thorne is kiiiinda an antihero. (And I’m pretty sure you’re all aware of my utter and unashamed love for him. <3)


Damien
(Chasing Shadows and Defying Shadows by Ashley Townsend)

He definitely had some antihero-ness going on annnd, again, I loved him so much.


(I want to say Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender but that’s a TV show and I was trying to stick to book characters… BUT ZUKO IS LIKE MY FAVORITE OF EVER SO YES.)


There’s probably one billion others but antiheroes always = spoilers for some reason so I’m trying to be careful here… (Also most of my favorites are from TV shows for some reason??? Come on, books, gimme more antiheroes!)

 

. . . THE QUIET, SWEET
SPIRITED BABIES . . .


You know those precious babies who may not be found on the front lines of battle carrying a sword larger than their bodies, but they will slay their enemies with their pure GOODNESS. I LOVE THEM. The healers, the encouragers. The ones who choose to sit in the background, but whose love and support strengthens everyone. They may not have a lot to say, but when they do speak, it’s always a kind word to lift one up. At first appearances, they seem weak, cowardly, but they’re truly the strongest of anyone. Not through brute force, but from the peace and kindness they hold inside.


Side note: These are often the characters who cause antiheroes to turn to the good side. Give me a dark, broody, broken antihero guy and pure and gentle precious gal and I WILL SHIP IT SO HARD.


Examples:

Bonnie (The Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire series by Bryan Davis)
Literally her sweet and kind spirit causes like EVERYONE IN THE SERIES to be better people and just asdkjf;lksjd;lfjksdf. She is #Goals.


Sapphira
(also The Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire series by Bryan Davis)
Only my FAVORITE character from those books. She’s gentle and kind but also probably the strongest character I know. Period. She suffered so much but kept her sweet spirit throughout it all. I LOVE HER.

 

. . . THE FUN-LOVING ONES . . .


These are the characters who make you laugh and smile even while the world is spiraling into doom and despair. The joke-crackers, the lighthearted ones. BUT they’re not just there for comedy relief. (I can’t stand empty characters who purely exist to make you laugh. Give me some depth, people! Actually Victoria @ Wanderer's Pen did a post recently on how comic relief characters should and should not be written. Everyone should read it! It was my thoughts EXACTLY.)


Usually these characters are loyal to a fault, and can find joy and hope where it seems like no joy exists. They’re also great at making really cheesy puns even while the world is ending.


Examples:

Walter (The Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire series by Bryan Davis)
(These books have a lot of amazing characters, okay???) Walter is the protagonist’s best friend and has all these traits I named—hope, joy, loyalty. But he also is always there to crack a super lame joke when you need one the most. And we love him for it.


Blaze
(Twinepathy by C.B. Cook)
THIS BOY. GAH. He’s fun, sweet, and will make hilarious comments while saving your life. Everyone should have a Blaze!


Kaylee
(The Angel Eyes trilogy by Shannon Dittemore)
Kaylee is Brielle’s (the protagonist) best friend, and her lightheartedness and witty jokes balance out Brielle’s more serious persona perfectly. Kaylee was one of my favorite parts of these books. She was hilarious!


I’m realizing this type of character tends to always be the best friend to the protagonist. But that makes sense. When you’re saving the world and nearly dying like every three pages, you need a best friend to crack a joke now and again, am I right? I’m alllll for the fun-loving best friends!

 

. . . COCKY DUDES WITH
HEARTS OF GOLD . . .


Wit. Sarcasm. Constantly praising their own skills and good looks. But, deep down, will sacrifice everything to save their loved ones. YOU KNOW THE CHARACTERS. These are like my top, TOP favorite characters in existence. Like excuse me while I go put on a wedding dress ‘cause we’re gettin’ married. Annnd they just happen to be antiheroes quite a lot, soooo… *wriggles eyebrows* (I have a problem, I know.)


BUT SERIOUSLY. I LOVE THEM. These guys usually always have some sort of witty sarcastic remark to throw around at every corner. And sometimes they seem like the most selfish beings alive. But, next thing you know, they’re cuddling a kitten or leaping into battle to save your life even though it musses up their perfect hair. What’s there not to love??? I’m 99.9% likely to adore a book if it has this type of character.


Examples:

Eanrin (The Tales of Goldstone Wood books by Anne Elisabeth Stengl)
Who doesn’t love this silver-tongued, snarky, full of himself hero? I mean, really! He’s heroic, makes music, and still leaves plenty of time in his busy schedule for an hourly sarcastic comment or so. Perfection.


Thorne
(The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)

YES I KNOW I ALREADY LISTED HIM BUT THOOOORNE. He’s like the epitome of this type of character.


Howl
(Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones)
LITERALLY MY FAVORITE CHARACTER IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE. Period. Howl has it all. Good looks, wit, sarcasm for daaaays. And, at first, you think he’s the most selfish, exasperating jerk to exist. But deep down just… LDSJFLJSL:JDLKJFD. HOWL.


(Those are three of my most favoritest character to exist. I told you I love this type of character.)

 

. . . NICE BUT TAKE-NO-NONSENSE GALS . . .


Jut like the cocky-but-heart-of-gold characters are my favorite fictional guys, these types are probably my favorite fictional girls.


Now I’m not talkin’ the cold-shoulder, super tough girls that seem to be the only type of protagonists we get in YA books these days. (*rolls eyes* Don’t even get me started.) No. These are the girls who are actually very kind and good-hearted, but if you’re acting out they ain’t going to lie down and take it. They can gently care for your wound and sass you at the same time. #Skills They are often prone to having a temper, but their anger is usually righteous anger, because their heart is in the right place. Think Ellie May from The Andy Griffith Show. She was one of the sweetest characters on the show, but she could chew Andy out like nobody’s business. She was great. XD (Yes, I know I said I was just going to list book character. Shhhh.)


Sweet. Spunky. Sassy. These are the types of females I love to find in my books.


Examples:

Imraldera (The Tales of Goldstone Wood books by Anne Elisabeth Stengl)
This amazing woman manages to be both soft-spirited and spunky at the same time. She has a loving, kind nature, but can totally put Eanrin in his place when he needs it.


Cimorene
(The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede)

If anybody is spunky and temperamental, it’s Cimorene. She’s not someone you want as your enemy, but if she’s your friend, you’re set for life.


Sophie
(Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones)

(Like you’re even surprised both Howl and Sophie made it into a post about my favorite character types.) SOPHIE THOUGH. Sophie is certainly kind and wants to help people, but DO NOT make her angry. Calling Sophie spunky is putting it mildly. She’s the perfect match for Howl. *grins*


Annabeth
(The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan)

Who doesn’t love Annabeth’s wit and temper? She’s a sweet gal, but brace yourself for the sarcasm that comes with her.


I’m realizing this is a very common type of female character because I keep thinking of examples. And I’m 1000% okay with that. Give me ALL the sweet, spunky girls!

 

. . . SUPER SHY & AWKWARD CINNAMON ROLLS . . .


Remember how I said the last two types were my favorites of all time? I LIED. Okay, that’s not true. (Yes, I just lied about lying. #Lie-ception) My heart is big enough for MULTIPLE FAVORITES, okay???


BUT THE SHY, AWKWARD CHARRIES. *all the heart-eyes*


Where everyone else is off throwing out battle cries and snarking each other to death, these precious babies are just trying to not trip over their shoelaces. They’re the ones wondering why oh why there must be so many adventures in the world. Can’t we all just get along by staying home reading books and politely ignoring each other?


Every time I come across these characters I want to hug and squeeze them and call them George. THEY’RE JUST TOO PRECIOUS FOR THIS WORLD. Or…whatever world their books happen to be set in.


Examples:

Peeta (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)
PEETA DECORATES CAKES. He doesn’t want to be sent off to murder teenagers. Just give him a blank cake, a tube of icing, and a quiet setting and he’s happy. HE IS PRECIOUS. Can we all just give this baby a hug please? (Although technically Peeta is neither shy nor awkward since his whole thing was being a good speaker but…he still somehow fits this category????)


Cress
(The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)

Cress is nearly tied with Sophie as my favorite female character. THAT IS HOW MUCH I LOVE HER. She’s nerdy and adorable and jumps at her own shadow and makes awkward squeaking noises whenever her crush is around. TOO. MUCH. PRECIOUS.


Fun fact: This also happens to be my TOP favorite character type to write. Iavin from my Colors of a Dragon Scales series has this type of personality and he’s my favorite POV to write to date.

 

. . . WHIMSICALLY
CHAOTIC BEANS . . .


There are some characters that defy all categories, which, in turn, creates a category all on its own. YES IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE. (Please just smile and nod and give me the illusion I’m make sense all the time even though I never am.) These little beans can be described by one word: Nonsense. They’re whimsical and strange and sometimes cause confusion and disasters wherever they go, but you’re drawn to them anyway. They’re the types that make you think, “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY’RE DOING BUT I LOVE IT.”


I loooove whimsically nonsensical characters. LOVE. They may be my favorites of all. (I’m aware I’ve claimed every single one of these as my top favorites. I HAVE INDECISION PROBLEMS ALL RIGHT.)


If you still have noooo idea what type of character I’m talking about, perhaps my examples will make all things clear…


Examples:

Peter Pan (Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie)
You really can’t get more chaotically whimsical than Peter Pan. He’s the boy who never grows up. The one who spends all his days playing games and forgets everything and hangs out with fairies and causes trouble everywhere he goes. And we love him.


The Mad Hatter
(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll)

Do I even need to explain this one???? I adore every version of the Mad Hatter in existence. Always.


Kale
(The DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul)

Kale is sliiightly more lowkey but I’d still say she has some whimsical chaos going. She’s very free-spirited. She comes from some pretty…off the wall parents (i.e. her mother tells her to wear pink in battle because it’ll catch the enemy off guard <---My hero right there), so she really can’t help but have some odd genes.


Howl
(Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones)

Did you really think I’d only list Howl once? HA. But seriously now. Howl is such a strange person. Good luck trying to predict anything he’ll do or say next. And saying he causes chaos wherever he goes is an understatement. (Let’s not forget the time he covered his entire house in green slime…from a temper-tantrum.)


(Honorable mention goes to the Doctor from Doctor Who even though I keep telling myself to stick to book characters and failing miserable so here we are. But, come on, he’s the DOCTOR. He should make a cameo in everything in existence!)


. . .


As you can see, I’m very fond of a looooot of types of characters. If I hear tell there’s one of these characters in a book I’m all TAKE MY MONEY. I MUST HAVE IT. And this is not by any means an exhaustive list. AT ALL. If I listed all the types of characters I love we’d be here until the end of the century. I’m already thinking of types I can’t believe I didn’t add, but this post is getting as long as the yellow brick road. Sooo…perhaps there will be a part two someday???? ‘Cause you guys know I can talk about fictional characters ‘til the end of time. IT’S MY FAVORITE SUBJECT.


But I’m stopping now, I am!

 


YOUR TURN. Tell me one (or 12 billion) of your types of favorite characters to find in books. Do we share any? Or, on the flipside, did I list any you particularly dislike??? (I promise you won’t hurt my feelings! Who knows, I may even do a post on character types I don’t like sometime…?) Let us discuss our favorite fictional babies!!!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Job of “Writer”: There is No Clocking Out



Remember those dreams of grandeur during your first happy days as a writer?
Those imaginings that your life would be full of lounging in a quaint coffee shop and clacking contentedly on your keyboard whenever you felt like it? The realization that you’d be paid to merely daydream and create? Talk about a life!


After all, the writer’s life is the easiest gig, right? Our job description is quite literally “make stuff up”. The majority of the time our work outfit is our pajamas, and our work space is the comfiest chair in the house. We make our own hours. Get to be at home. Drink all the coffee our heart desires. What a spoiled life we writers get to live! Such ease, such pleasure. Not a care in  the world. Right? Riiiiight?


……………..


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!!!!!!



I think in our early days we did live under this illusion. And I know for a fact many non-writers believe this. It’s often thought that being a writer isn’t a “real” job. It’s not like we do anything or work very hard.


Heh.


Being a writer is one of the most time-consuming, demanding jobs on the earth. Yes, there are definitely harder jobs out there. But here’s the thing about being a writer: You can’t just “clock out” when the work day is over. Most jobs involve clocking in and clocking out. And once you’ve punched that time clock and turned the lights out at the office, you’re free. No more obligations until the next day.


It doesn’t work like that as a writer.


The thing about writers is we always have something we could/should be doing. ALWAYS. Novel writing isn’t just, well, novel writing. Oh no. Honestly, for me, the whole actually writing a book is the easy part. (Okay, sometimes the easy part…sorta…ish. Let me live under my delusions!) There is so much more to the writer’s life.


To make my point, let me give you guys a list of the many, many things we writers must do. Because lists makes everything more fun.

 

. . . WRITE . . .


Yes, yes, I know I literally just said novel writing isn’t just novel writing. BUT. It’s kiiiinda the most important part of the job. One can’t exactly be a novel writer if  one doesn’t write novels. CRAZY, RIGHT?


But seriously, if your goal is to be published, you have to have something to actually publish. And I say novels, but you may be a poetry writer, or do non-fiction, or short stories. Whatever your field is, you have to WRITE IT. And let me tell you guys, writing is no quick feat. Unless it’s during NaNoWriMo, it takes me a few months to get a novel done. And within those few months I’m spending hours and hours of the day purely writing. Then, when the novel is finally done…another idea decides to attack me and I start allllll over again.


I have over a dozen written stories under my belt. So…let’s just not even think about the amount of hours I’ve spent of my 25 years writing. o.O But merely writing is only the beginning of the writer’s life.

 

. . . EDIT . . .


Okay, so we’ve written a novel. Great! It’s done now, right?


HA!


Being a writer is anything but just writing and being done. We then have to turn right back around and completely tear apart our precious manuscript we just spent the last 4 months poring over. *faints* We have to actually fix that plot hole the size of Texas and turn that flat character into something more interesting than a lima bean and change every. single. sentence. into something actually worth reading. And thennnn DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN. Yaaaay!



Because editing isn’t just editing once. OH NO. You’ll go over that single book so many times—editing, proofreading, perfected—you’ll be able to recite it word by word.

 

. . . RESEARCH . . .


Ah, researching. My least favorite part of the writing life (and one I probably should work harder on *cough*). Yes, even us fantasy writers have to research. (Swordfights I’ve written: Approximately 239834. Swordfights I’ve actually done in real life: 0. Yeah, we gotta research!)


The sad thing about researching is that we may spend 3 hours researching something just for…one paragraph in our novel. Yepppp. Researching consumes a lot of time.

 

. . . BUILD A PLATFORM/KEEP UP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA . . .


Odd as it may seem, we writers have to spend a huge chunk of time not working on our novels.


In this day and age of technology, publishers put a lot of stock in a writer’s platform (a.k.a how many readers they’ve accumulated, usually via social media). Books need to sell, and the only way a book can sell is if it’s in the public eye and people actually know about it. Thus, it’s pretty essential these days for writers to be on social media and constantly bringing in new followers. But not just that, I firmly believe writers need other writers in their lives, not just readers. Building a following is important, but joining a writing community and having a circle of fellow writers is how we writers thrive.


Aside from the actually writing/editing a book, I’d say this takes up most of a writer’s life.


A spend an immense amount of time working on my blog, writing blog posts, taking pictures for said posts, replying to comments, reading other blog posts and commenting on those, etc., etc. And that’s just with blogging! Then there’s twitter, Instragram, Facebook, Google+, on and on and on.



For me, I’m most active on blogger (though even then I often think I need to be more active). I sometimes do twitter (I’ve been trying to be more active, though totally failing…). I have my Instagram account but I…hardly ever use it. I want to though. I hope to one day be much more involved in the bookstagram community, I just haven’t settled into it yet. One day hopefully! My Google+ account…never gets use. Blogger is nice and automatically posts each of my blog posts on there but that’s all the activity it gets. Annnd I don’t even have a Facebook account. Yeeeah. Probably something I need one day if I ever get published. An author without an FB is unheard of. Or…a human without an FB. Heh.


But ANYWAYS. The point is, being active on social media and building a readership and making other writer friends takes SO. MUCH. TIME. Most of my days are filled with keeping up with blogs and emailing and beta-reading friends’ books, and so on and so forth. And yet, there is sooooo many other things I should be doing on top of all that.


To get published, it’s good to basically build your own resume. Such as having a large following on social media. But also having experience. I’d love to write for some magazines sometime because that’s a great thing to put on one’s “resume” a.k.a. your query letter. Or join a writers association like ACFW. Or enter writing contests. The list goes on and on and on.


The amount you can do to make writing friends and build a platform and have experience to make good query letters is literally infinite. And it’s all important for the writing life.

 

. . . LEARN THE CRAFT . . .


Writers never, ever stop learning. With some jobs, you may have a two week learning phase and then you’ve got it down. With writing, you keep learning until you’re in the grave. (And at that point you’re doing some great research on how all the characters you killed off feel, so even more learning!)


There is no “getting there” with writing. No highest peak to reach. Because you can always improve. There are always more things to learn, more things to discover, other methods to try, new genres to explore.


We writers spend monstrous amounts of time studying the craft—reading writing articles, following writing blogs, listening to writing podcasts, studying writing books, taking writing classes.


With writing, you’re always going to be learning something new with each novel you write. Learning the craft never ends. Our life is basically an endless writing class.

 

. . . TAME THE PLOT BUNNIES . . .


Let’s be real. We writers spend 101% of our time trying to control the plague of plot bunnies. We’re writing one book, under the delusion we’re happy spending our time with it, when BAM! another story idea— a plot bunny—leaps up, all shiny and exciting, and we want to write that novel instead. But wait, there’s another plot bunny over there. And there! AND THERE. And ooooh, that one is fun. But that one is shiny. But that one has PIRATES.


Okay. The plot bunnies can’t be tamed. All our efforts are futile. Forget all the other stuff I listed. Most of the writing life is caving to the cute, fluffy plague of plot bunnies and next thing we know we’re working on 23 projects at once and wondering what we’re doing with our lives.



. . . . . . . . . . .


As you can see, the writing life takes a LOT of time and a LOT of work. So many hours spent staring at a computer screen to the point that your eyes begin to melt out of their sockets and your fingers wither away from all the typing. And my list doesn’t even cover half of it! I didn’t even get into the time spent plotting and marketing and searching for agents and crying and writing synopses. It’s infinite!


I will repeat: We writers don’t clock out. While most people with normal day jobs are sleeping at 4a.m., we’re putting the finishing touches to that blog post we started at midnight because, whoops, it’s supposed to be published in the morning. While home is the place to relax and watch a movie for the average human, it’s our office. If we’re home, we probably should be working. (At least…that’s my mentality. *cough*) Outside of the home is when I leave the “office” and relax. When we’re not writing, we feel guilty because we should be writing. When we are writing, we wonder if we should be doing the one billion other things on our to-do list. Like answering one of those 2399834 emails in our inbox.


But I’m not here to overwhelm you guys! (Because I know this monstrous post about how much work we writers have to do has done suuuuch a good job of that. Ehehehehe. *COUGH*) I just want to debunk the mentality that being a writer is all ease and comfort and isn’t a “real job”. Or if you’re looking for a quick way to fame and fortune, prove that writing is not it. Short of being J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, there’s no fame with the job, and the term “starving artist” encompasses writers as well. Heh. Plus, there’s nothing quick about getting published.


So that brings the real question here. Why do we do it? Why do I spend so much of my life pursuing publishing? Why do I put all this pressure and stress on myself? Why DO we choose to write???


The answer is simple:


Because we love it.


I’ve always believed you can’t choose the writing life, it chooses you. If you have a passion to create stories, then you have to, no matter what.


I’ve been on a pretty long writing hiatus because my life has been crazy lately, but I’m chomping at the bit to get to writing again. I can’t not write. I have stories going through my head 100% of the time. Without writing, I’d feel like an empty shell.


Yes, I get overwhelmed and stressed all. the. time. And on the really hard days, I wonder if it’s worth it. But then a story idea grasps a hold of me and won’t let go, and I get lost in a new world and characters and the dance of words, and I know, without a doubt, no matter the amount of stress and work and late nights, it is always, always worth it. I love creating new stories and I love blogging and I love connecting with readers and fellow writers. I absolutely love everything about this crazy life of a writer.


That’s why we do it. If God puts a passion in your heart for writing, then you write. It’s as simple as that.


BUT—and this is important here—even though writing involves endless work and has no time clock to punch out, you should create your own time clock. Yes, we can write and be on social media and work 24/7, but we shouldn’t! It’s very, very important we learn to take time out. To LIVE. The job of a writer is unlike any other, because essentially we’re our own boss. Which means we have to provide ourselves with specific work hours and vacations when we need it. This post is by no means implying that you should spend every waking second working! DON’T. That’s unhealthy! (I would know. *cough*) Figure out your two favorite social media platforms and stick with them and don’t worry about the rest. Set out two hours of the day to write and clock out afterwards. Take up your friend’s offer to have lunch, because your book will still be there when you get back.


Live, write, find your own pace.


(And don’t do like me where you go a while only working and then a while not doing ANYTHING, because I’m totally the worst at that whole balance thing. Ahem.)


Being a writer is not the easiest life. But you know what? Sometimes it totally is lounging at home in your pajamas drinking all the coffee your heart desires. I mean, one of the biggest ways to learn the craft is by reading novels and watching movies! And published authors do quite literally get paid to make stuff up.


The life of a writer is hard and insane and weird and overwhelming and stressful and absurd. And if you love it, it’s absolutely amazing.

 

Tell me, dear writers, what struggles do you face as a writer? Does it sometimes overwhelm you all the hats we writers must wear? And I REALLY want to know, how do you balance it all??? What habits have you developed that have helped? Because I NEED TIPS AND TRICKS. So share away!

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Life Pattern vs. God’s Pattern



2017 is HALFWAY OVER, GUYS.
HALFWAY. *faints* And next thing you know, August is going to be here.


With August, for many, comes Big Life Decisions. Maybe May for you was a flurry of graduation excitement. Some finished high school, others college. While many of you are getting prepped to return to school.


I had multiple graduations to attend in May, and I know many people who are stepping out to do many new, exciting, and maybe even scary things. And others are trying to decide what they want to spend the rest of their life doing.


With this transition of summer quickly slipping toward August, for a lot of people, the doubts start coming in. The questions. The fears. What do you want to do with your life? Are you making the right life decisions? What if you make the Wrong Decision? What if you mess up? What if you change your mind? What will everyone think? Or maybe you’re not headed to a change. Maybe you’re already settled into a life, but unsure if it’s the right one. And those same doubts and fears creep in. Are you wasting your life? Should you make a change? What does everyone expect from you?


If this sounds familiar, I have some advice for you…


STOP.


Okay, okay. Obviously we all have to make decisions in life, and that’s GOOD (even if it doesn’t seem like it). It’s gotta be done. As lovely as it’d be, we can’t really spend our entire life watching Netflix. (Just some of it.) So what am I getting at here? Well, let me tell you a story…


From the moment I started kindergarten, I was homeschooled. I was a homeschooler throughout my entire schooling years. And then I *GASP* chose not to go to college. I went for years without ever having a job, and only now have a little part time one. I’m not married, never even have had a boyfriend before, and still live with my parents. In the world’s eyes, I’m a complete failure.


According to the world, this is the set Life Pattern: Go to school, directly go to college (taking a year or two break after graduating high school is just dumb and lazy. How dare you take a break after being at school for 12 years, and not immediately decide what you’re going to do for the rest of your life at the age of 18. Psssh.), find a fulltime job you must stick with forever, get married the second you graduate college, have only two kids and maybe one dog, raise your two children to be a doctor and lawyer respectively, move into a retirement home, die. The End.


Ooookay, maybe that’s a smidgeon dramatic. But, ya know, from my own experience sometimes it feels like that’s exactly what’s expected of everyone. And if you break away from the Life Pattern you’re a failure. You’re lazy and no good and what even are you doing with your life?



Obviously, I’m the biggest Failure of them all. Not only was I one of those Weird Homeschoolers, I didn’t go to college. I don’t have a fulltime job. I don’t even have a boyfriend. I’m 25! I should have a career by now. Or be married with 5 children. Sheesh, I’m practically old maid status. I should at least have my own apartment and not be living with my parents. Right? Right???


I’m gonna be honest with you guys. Sometimes I do believe these things. Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time…) I listen to the voices of doubt, let them make me think I’m a lazy, no good failure who’s wasting her life. Sometimes I wonder if I should be making changes. If I should have done things differently. And then God gets a hold of me and reminds me: I’m exactly where He wants me to be.


Because here’s the thing about the Life Pattern. It’s not GOD’S PATTERN.


God does not call us to follow the “social norm”. He does not have a set copycat lifestyle for every human on the planet. He has an amazing and unique plan for each and every one of us. And yes, sometimes His plans seem positively ridiculous.


I think everyone thought Noah was a total loon when he set out to build a ginormous boat in a place with no water. I have no doubt the people of Jericho shook their heads at the complete and utter insanity of Joshua when he marched his army around the Jericho walls every single day for a week.


God doesn’t take common sense into account. He often calls us to live in the most strange of ways. And you know what? It’s absolutely wonderful.


Oswald Chambers said it best:


If a person is ever going to do anything worthwhile, there will be times when he must risk everything by his leap in the dark. In the spiritual realm, Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold on to or believe through common sense, and leap by faith into what He says. Once you obey, you will immediately find that what He says is as solidly consistent as common sense.

By the test of common sense, Jesus Christ’s statements may seem mad, but when you test them by the trial of faith, your findings will fill your spirit with the awesome fact that they are the very words of God. Trust completely in God, and when He brings you to a new opportunity of adventure, offering it to you, see that you take it.


Living God’s way is so, so much better than conforming to what society expects of you.


Now, it’s not going to be easy. Like I said, I often let the voices of doubt into my head. And I have dealt with raised eyebrows and judgmental looks from people my entire life. I’m sure all my fellow homeschoolers are quite familiar with that raised eyebrow one receives when one must answer The Question: “Where do you go to school?” But I only thought that was bad. It only got worse when I graduated. Now the question is, “Where do you go to college?” or “What are you studying to be?” When I answer with, “I didn’t go to college,” I’ve feared some people were about to lose their eyebrows completely they went so far up their heads. I’ve literally had a couple of people just kind of stop talking to me and move on to one of the more “successful” people around me. Because apparently I’m just too uneducated and weird to bother having a conversation with.


Disclaimer: I’m going to pause here to quickly say, I am not against college. We need doctors and lawyers and a billion other things. College is important! I know I probably sound like I’m totally anti-college with all this ranting. I’m not! I’m just anti-you-must-go-to-college-or-you’re-a-complete-failure thing that seems to be the world’s viewpoint. I feel like these days people see it as a sin to not go to college! College is a choice, not a have-to. Yes, we need to go through school. Obviously. Gotta learn how to do math and read. But afterwards, it’s up to you what to do, and you shouldn’t be shamed by that. Isn’t the world all about freewill right now? So why are we still shaming each other for not going to college? (But I’ve got to stop, because this post isn’t about college, despite appearances. Ahem.)


Every person has a reason why they do or do not do something.


I suffer with health problems. Mentally, I’d love to go out and do things and see people every single day. I’d probably love having a fulltime career, and maybe even really enjoy college. But physically, I can’t always be out and about every single day of my life. I have to live a pretty quiet life because of health problems. I actually was planning on going to college, the idea excited me, but God very clearly led me not to. And now I understand why. Health-wise, I just couldn’t handle it. And what I want to do with my life has no need for college. I want to be a fulltime writer. And yes, a lot of people take classes for that, which is fantastic (and wonderful for query letters, I believe), but for writing, you can also totally educate yourself. I’ve been “colleging” myself ever since I finished high school. Because it was then that I really got serious about writing and studying the craft and taking the time to do it. And having the time to do it. If I was in college, I’d probably be too busy and tired to even bother with writing. I only have so much energy. I tire easily, I get really bad headaches, and writing is a lot of work. If I had classes all the time or a full job to go to every single day, I’d probably have to give up the very thing God gave me a passion for. For me personally, I can pursue my career better by having just a part-time job and not going to college.


Since I can’t be physically active all the time, but love people, I took up blogging and have the most spectacular circle of people in the world. Blogging and writing and socializing with my many blogging/writing/reading peeps brings me indescribable joy every single day.


Homeschooling was a huge blessing with my health problems as well. Not to mention just amazing! I made my very bestest friends via my homeschool group. (Because yes, we do actually *gasp* socialize.)


I still live at home because this is where I’m supposed to be right now. And where I want to be. I love my family. We’re all a support system for each other. Why would I leave the place I’m supposed to be because it’s “shameful” for a 25 year old to still be living with their parents?



In the world’s eyes, I do nothing but use most of my time sitting around on the computer. But being a writer is a fulltime job. (Which is a whole topic of its own and one I hope to write a post on very soon, so I won’t go into that…yet. *grins*) Like I said, I’m colleging myself (and, yes, we’re totally pretending “colleging” is a word, shhh). I am working toward a career.


Each person is different. We can’t follow a certain Life Pattern. And why would we even want to?


Go to college, don’t go to college. Get married young, get married later in life. Don’t get married at all. Have one kid, have twelve. Have a career, stay at home. Go out and be a missionary in a foreign country or reach people via a blog.


God has a specific and wonderful and amazing and adventurous and totally spectacular plan for YOU.


As you make those dreaded Life Decisions, shut out the world’s judgmental eyebrow raising and expectations of following a Pattern. Don’t make a permanent decision that you don’t even want to do just because the world pressured you into it. Seek out God’s expectations, His plans for you. However crazy they may seem.


Because it’s much better to hear God say “Well done, my good and faithful servant” and receive all the raised eyebrows in the world, than bending to the world’s expectations and having our Savior disappointed in us.

 

Whew! Okay, I know that was long and ranty. Buuut, this post was bound to show up eventually. It’s a rant my patient family has to hear at least weekly. I knew it’d appear on the blog sooner or later. (Really, I’ve kind of wanted to write this post since I started blogging… I don’t know why it took me so long.) But now I want to hear your thoughts! (Goodness knows you’ve had enough of mine.) Do you relate to this? Do we share any of the same struggles? Are you at a point where you’re making those Big Life Decisions? Or perhaps questioning your decisions because of the world’s judgy eyes? I would love to talk with you or pray for you if you need it. So share away in the comments!

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