Work-In-Progress Problems


I am sure that God Who began the good work in you will keep on working in you until the day Jesus Christ comes again. Philippians 1:6 (NLV)

GhostMountainFrontFinalI’ve written and rewritten the first few chapters of my current work-in-progress so many times, I’ve lost count. I do save what I’ve deleted from the working manuscript, just in case there’s something I want to put back in the story. There are probably as many words in the deleted files that are in the “keep” files.

When I wrote the blurb for Ghost Mountain, the second book in the PennWoods Mystery series, I had a clear idea of what the plot would be. However, as I wrote, the story took on a life and direction of its own, and, seven chapters into it, I have yet to introduce the antagonist (the bad guy) and get to the events mentioned in the description.

Since I published the blurb in the back of the first book and readers are expecting that storyline, I can’t change it. But tell that to this stubborn story. So it’s back to revising the first chapters so I can weave in the villain and set up the main conflict of the story, which I already described.

The other problem I’m dealing with is my own perfectionism. When writing the first draft, I’m supposed to let it flow and lock up the editor in me. But she wiggles out and takes charge, interrupting the flow of the action and calling attention to things that are supposed to be addressed in the revision phase. She wants it to be perfect now and doesn’t want to wait. I don’t know why I don’t bind her with imaginary duct tape, lock her up in one of the closets of my mind, and throw away the key.

But I want this book to be better than the last one—writing-wise and story-wise. I want to grow as a fiction writer and become a better writer with each novel I produce. Hence the editor trumps the muse.

Nothing wrong with improving yourself, right?

But I’m splitting the proverbial hair, and my focus on perfectionism only stymies me.

I need to follow the advice of countless published novelists: write first, revise next, polish last. I need to let the muse dance. It’s her time to shine.

This manuscript and me have a lot in common—we’re both works in progress.

But often I’m like my stubborn manuscript—wanting to go my own way instead of following my Creator’s planned storyline for me. My manuscript, however, doesn’t give me permission to change it. I just take charge and do what I know is best. God, however, waits for us, His manuscripts, to give Him permission before He begins to revise.

Another way I liken my growth as a Christian to writing is my tendency to perfectionism. I want to be perfect now. I don’t want to have to go through the things that will transform me into the masterpiece my Creator has planned.

E.B White, the author of the children’s classic Charlotte’s Web and a much-acclaimed stylebook on writing, once said, “The best writing is rewriting.”

God is the Master Wordsmith.

He’s the One who’s writing and revising me, one chapter at a time.

When I become impatient with myself, remind me, Father, that I’m still a work-in-progress. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 138:8Isaiah 64:8, and Ephesians 2:10

 Ghost Mountain, Book 2 in the Pennwoods Mystery series, will be released this fall. 

The Fingerprints of God



I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place. Psalm 8:3 (NIV)

My husband and I spent the day before Father’s Day on Glendale Lake in beautiful west-central Pennsylvania. Our youngest son, David, rented a pontoon boat for the day as a Father’s Day gift for his dad so the two of them could spend the day fishing. They went last year, and this year, David asked me to come along.

Now, I don’t fish. I don’t even eat fish. But the opportunity to spend the day on a boat relaxing and enjoying nature was something I didn’t want to pass up.

We packed up for the day, and for once I didn’t lug my laptop along, even though I was way behind on my novel writing schedule. I did, however, pack my Kindle. I have library of books on that thing, and I planned to spend the day reading, relaxing, and recharging.

I didn’t read as much as I thought I would, though. Instead I lounged under the canopy, out of the sun, and simply enjoyed the scenery and being a part of a perfect summer day.

Only an occasional wispy cloud floated across the summer blue sky. No heat, no haze, no humidity marred this crisp, clear day, a day when you can see forever.

A summer breeze breathed across the lake and caressed our faces. Sunlight sparkling on the water resembled drops of dancing diamonds. Lush green branches of the surrounding forest hugged the shoreline and painted the waters. Dragonflies buzzed the surface of the lake in search of a meal.

My body leaned with the sway of the boat as it rose and dipped with the wake of passing craft, lulling my eyes to close. The silence was broken only by the buzz of an occasional jon boat puttering by, the lap of the lake slapping the pontoons, the whirring of a fishing rod cast through the air.

David fishing on Glendale Lake
David fishing on Glendale Lake

It was a day when you don’t keep track of the time because you never want it to end.

As the evening sun crept closer to the tree-lined horizon and we headed in, I turned to face the back of the boat and drank in the view one more time. Closing my eyes and inhaling the sweet scents of the lake, I thanked God—for the day, for His beautiful creation.

My body, mind, and spirit were refreshed, renewed, and recharged.

In all nature—from dawn’s soft sky to a vibrant sunset, from storm clouds rolling in to puffy, white clouds that take the shape of whatever your mind’s eye sees, from a million stars twinkling against an infinite canvas to the cloud shadows that float across a verdant field, from the wildflower to the maple tree to the stately pine—I see the fingerprints of their Creator.

A church building is not the only place you can worship God. Just go outside and you’ll enter His sanctuary.

See Him in the trees dancing with the wind, hear Him in the hum of a hummingbird’s wings, inhale His sweet fragrance with the scent of freshly mown grass, taste Him with each drop of rain, feel His embrace wrap around you in the warm breeze.

And know, dear one, that He created all this just for you.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. – Psalm 19:1

Thank you, Father, for this world You created. Help me to take time to savor it. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 19

Dean and I heading out for a day on Glendale Lake
Dean and I heading out for a day on Glendale Lake