Hope in the Queue

printersWhile typing and printing off documents, my printer suddenly decided to morph into la-la land. Electronic devices are so wonderful – until they don’t work. Then we’re stuck.

Frustrated, I tried and tried to print the last document, not realizing what was happening on the other end of electronic cyberspace. After rebooting, unplugging and still not printing, I turned everything off and quit for the day.

The next morning, when I turned on the computer, the printer decided to resuscitate itself. It spewed out page after page of documents that had been hiding in the queue.

Eventually, it stopped – but not before I added several inches to my pile of recyclable scrap paper.

The electronic world sometimes imitates life.

How often do we pray and pray for something, wait and wait longer while heaven seems to exist in an introverted silence?

Nothing happens for weeks, months, even years. Our prayers seem stuck in the queue of God’s waiting room. Then suddenly – an avalanche of answered prayers, all bunched up at the same time.

We gasp at the range of unexpected blessings and rejoice again in the assurance that God loves us.

As a writer, sometimes my words get stuck in a creative queue. I’ve never experienced a complete writer’s block, but I do know how to procrastinate and avoid sitting in the chair, hoping by osmosis to produce something memorable.

What I’ve discovered, though, is that the discipline produces its own fruit. Even though I may slug through a paragraph or two, if I keep going, keep making the words happen – then suddenly – the creative muse kicks in and I’m in another world for hours. That’s when writing is most fun.

So what can we learn from our moments stuck in the queue?

Persistence is still a worthwhile virtue.

The best writing, the purest answers to prayer, the most productive days evolve as a result of self-discipline. When we give it our best and keep at it – over and over – day after day – that’s when we eventually produce good fruit.

We may not see it for a while, but it WILL happen. Persistence which produces results is one of the key principles of life.

Nothing worthwhile happens easily. When we have to work for it, we appreciate the results and feel energized to persist with even more fervor.

Effective Results Require Patience

Patience and persistence are twin brothers. They sometimes look alike and often require some of the same disciplines to feed them.

But the persistence twin is a process while the patience twin reveals a quality of life.

Patience reminds us to wait, then wait some more. And when we can no longer stand the wait, we dig deep and learn how much strength authentic waiting requires.

Patience is the months-or-years-long battle, waiting for poisonous chemo to take effect and save a life.

Patience allows the preschooler to tie his own shoes even while the school bus honks.

Patience sits beside the Alzheimer’s resident and hears the same questions again and again, then responds with gentleness because it is what it is – a plaque-infestation of the brain and we know Mom cannot help herself.

Patience understands and gives grace when the addiction festers but the victim still tries to recover.

Patience learns through the passage of time because it cannot be hurried and if we want the best results – we must not deny the waiting.

Patience turns off the printer, instead of continuing the process of trying to print – adding more documents to the queue which then wastes paper. Lesson learned.

Sometimes the Best Action is No Action.

For planners and doers like me, it feels better to do something – to hit that print button over and over – to unplug and try again and again.

But sometimes, the cyberspace universe has to get its pixels in order and find its missing megabites. I don’t even understand its language. How then, can I make it do something?

When we’ve prayed and prayed, waited and persisted – yet nothing happens – we can use the prayer of relinquishment.

“Oh God, I can’t stand this, but I absolutely have no clue what to do. Please take over and do whatever you need to do to mend this problem. Please help me to rest in you and trust that you know exactly what’s wrong and what to do about it. I give up.”

That prayer seems so counterintuitive to what we’ve been taught about productivity, but even the Psalmist portrays the same advice, “Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon him; fret not…” (Psalm 37:7 AMP).

Be still. Unplug. Stop trying to figure it out. Don’t worry. Let go and let God salve your weary soul.

If we don’t learn how to be still, then we end up with a heap of nothing – wasted words, frustrated prayers and sometimes – piles of worthless paper.

But if we just let go and let God figure it out, then we return to the task rebooted and refreshed, ready for whatever he has to give us and grateful for the lessons we have learned.

As we wait in the queue for God to redeem this wicked world, we can be certain he does indeed know what he’s doing.

Maybe he’s just waiting for us to trust him so he can finish the task.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

The Online Interview

Writers these days have to be half-creatives and half-marketers. Sometimes that’s a real stretch. After all, it involves the other side of the brain and includes spread sheets, cold calls for book signings and all types of extravert activities that drive us to eat large bowls of chocolate ice cream, looking for comfort.

One of the marketing tools that is becoming more common and effective is the online interview. We are, after all, an internet society now. Few of us can fly to a studio, sit through makeup and try to come up with witty chat until the commercials interrupt us.

But the online interview is simple. Just answer the questions and let the interviewer post a blog.

That happened for me. Several weeks ago, Dawn Alexander of Writer in Waiting contacted me and asked me several questions about my book and the writing process. I answered the questions and sent them to Dawn. This week, she posted the interview on her blog: http://chasingsomeday.blogspot.com/2012/08/rj-thesman.html

When I read the entire interview, I was amazed at how Dawn put my answers together to help me sound succinct and half-way sane. It was another marketing tool that we shared with my publisher, Facebook, Twitter and now here – on my blog.

So…writers take heart. It’s not that hard to answer a few questions, and you never know what might happen. Someone who reads the interview may buy your book and those words you penned so long ago will find a soul spot to land.

Thanks, Dawn. I appreciate your skills and your help.

Journey of a Novel – Step 5

The publishing process for a book involves many different people with various gifts. From the graphic artists who design the cover, to the copy editor to the publisher – all these people have a hand in printing the final product. As a self-publisher, I learned about each of these processes myself and worked hard to complete a credible product. Now, with my book at CrossRiver Media, I needed to do one other thing: let it go.

From the beginning of the creative process, only two individuals worked on my novel – the Holy Spirit and me. Together we wrote the words, revised the copy, then revised it again. Most of the time, I just listened and marveled at the words that erupted from my soul, traveled to my fingers and became visible on the computer screen. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit woke me in the middle of the night to add another phrase or correct something I had misinterpreted the day before. The notepad beside my bed became a constant reminder that we were partners in this endeavor.

The editor and former English teacher in me always wants to make it better – to correct syntax or find a more efficient way to express the rhythm of my sentences. The creative mind in me always wants to find that magic word that will produce an a-ha moment for the reader. While the Holy Spirit in me is also concerned about syntax, rhythm and a-ha moments – he basically has one goal – to save another soul. So we work together, but at some point – I have to let it go.

During the journey of this novel, I wrote the rough draft in about six months. Then I corrected that draft until I felt it was publisher-ready. Now, I have revised a few places and tried to find better action verbs to move the story along. Throughout each of these steps, the Holy Spirit has also been at work – inserting another piece of the Gospel, reminding me of another Bible verse or an ancient prayer I can add to the manuscript and praying through me for those who will read this book.

This weekend, we finished that process. My characters are now part of my family, as real to me as the flesh and blood people I see each day. The story continues within my plans for a second and third book, but this particular manuscript seems ready to move on. The Holy Spirit waits silently beside me as I save it one last time, burn it to a CD, then send it through cyberspace to the experts who will complete the finished product.

As I let it go, the miracle of the creative process expands. When the book is read by others, the Holy Spirit will once again speak His words of everlasting hope. He will use the sentences, the rhythm and those precious a-ha moments to touch a heart, bring a new thought to someone’s mind or comfort those who provide care for their loved ones.

As much as I enjoyed the process, I look forward to hearing from some of you out there when you read the finished product. Let’s rejoice together in the creative process and praise God for the determined way He continues to save us.