Tuesday, January 24, 2006

For the Inner Ear

I just pulled a book off my shelf that I haven't looked at for some time. It's an anthology of poetry in which I was published a few years ago. (a reputable one, by the way:) )

The title page includes a quote from Dorothy Livesay - "Sing then, for the inner ear's hearing."
What a great exhortation to writers who are Christians - sing, for the world, the sinful, violent, chaotic world, is hearing. So often we think not. We see the state of our world and despair. We hear the scoffers and grind our teeth in frustration.

Yet we have been given the task to sing of Christ through our writing. It makes me think of the violin ensemble that played as the Titanic sank - (in the film at least, and I don't know if that is factual). It seems like a ridiculous thing to do, yet we are called to do it.

It makes me think too of an interview I saw with Mother Theresa. The interviewer asked her why she bothered, when it was obvious she could do nothing to alleviate the suffering of the millions around her. She seemed not to even comprehend the question. She concerned herself with doing what she was called to do - hold the suffering in her arms while they died. Bring comfort and hope to those who had given up ever finding it.

What an honour! What a privilege! Sing. For they are hearing.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I had a look at Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake idea today. It looks like something I might use now that I've written a couple of novels, to go back and edit, to look at some marketing strategies if and when they ever get published. But I don't think I'll use it to outline a novel in the beginning. I like the fun of not knowing where it's going to go until it starts to go there.

I sat up till 2:00 a.m. last night reading/editing the second juvenile book I wrote about 10 years ago. I'm going to try and get the series published, so went through the first book (scroll down to The Witnesses) and then started the second yesterday. I couldn't stop, so ended up burning the midnight oil. And I had such a great time! Loved it. Can't wait to get going on book 3! I have no idea where it will end up, but my brain is already figuring out where it will go next.

It would be even more fun to see them in print some day.
:)M

Thursday, January 05, 2006

New Year's Res.

My husband mentioned something the other day that made me smile. In fact, it has made me smile many times since it happened.

We were on our way back to the Yukon with our two daughters - driving back in a very small Toyota Corolla, after spending a year at college in Saskatchewan. I learned what the word claustrophobic meant on that trip. And I learned something else.

We'd been admiring the scenery all the way - the soaring scenery of mountains that takes your breath away after living on the prairie for a year. When we reached our destination, Dawson City, my daughter, Katie, then six, paused as we ferried across the Yukon River, then pointed at the sheer cliffs rising from the water. "Look, Dad," she said, "we're coming close to the incredibles!"

I guess we'd used that word a time or two.

I learned then that kids will imitate us, no matter what words we use. They don't know any better. They are learning about how to function in the world, and their only resource is the people around them. Since we are, in effect, stuck in a small vehicle known as a family, it is inevitable that our kids will pick up and use whatever words we allow a presence within that capsule. They not only pick them up, they learn how to use them.

How crucial it is, then, to speak words of peace, love, contentment, joy - words that heal instead of words that destroy. How else will our children learn about such crucial words if we do not speak them? Now that I and my children are much older, I carry a certain amount of guilt about the many words I have not spoken. The other child in that car on its way to the Yukon, (Laura), once said that she only learned about me when strangers came to our house and we started telling stories."Why don't you tell us those stories?" she asked. Why indeed.

What fear keeps us from sharing the stories of our hearts with those closest to us? Why do we keep silent, keep the crucial words hidden inside? I suppose we too have learned, as we've journeyed through the small capsule of our lives, that it is safer to keep things hidden. Safer in the silence. But we all lose in that silence.

So at the beginning of this New Year, I call a challenge into this shared capsule - speak. Let the words of life and love flow out, into the air, onto the pages, onto the monitor screens and into cyber-space.

Let us all speak!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

promo

Hi again - wow, three posts in one day! Maybe I'm taking this New Year's resolution thing a little too seriously!
But just wanted to point you to fellow writer, Chris Well - and to an interview at Gina's site
take a look! :)M

A Conversion Tale

Dave Long, over at Faithinfiction has been posting the entries in his last contest. They are all conversion stories. I didn't have the time to enter the contest, but I did write a conversion story a few years ago that was published in FellowScript, the magazine/newsletter for Inscribe Christian Writers' Fellowship It won their contest, which, if my memory serves, was to write a story about a character named Shorty that included a volkswagon Beetle called Bee and a woman named Myrtle. It was fun to write.

So - I thought I'd post it here, for the fun. Hope you enjoy it. Let me know. :)M

I Remember Shorty
By M. Lee Laycock

We leap-frogged across the country, Shorty and I. He was driving a patchwork quilt of a pickup and I was in my hum-along-the-road Beetle. I first noticed him somewhere west of Regina, when I ran out of gas. Old "Bee" would run forever on a tank, but her gas gauge had jammed about four owners previous. I’d often chug to a stop, trying to remember how far back the last gas station was. Shorty pulled over, hopped out with a jerry can in his hand and a grin on his lined face. I could tell he’d seen better days, but when his grin widened and he pulled off his cowboy hat, I relaxed. A wide band of white started about half way down his forehead. I had a weakness for cowboys and Shorty was definitely the real deal.

"Out o’ gas, ma’am?"

As I studied Shorty, I figured he was the kind who’d call every female that.

"I’d be glad to pay you..."

He waved his hat as he poured the gas. "No need." He lifted his chin at the car. "What is this, anyway?"

My turn to grin. "It’s a Volkswagen Beetle. I call her Bee."

"Bee, eh? Good name fer it. Looks like it could get squashed out here."

I peered out at the flat landscape, squinting along the highway as a semi roared by, and was tempted to agree. "Sure is hot."

"Uh huh. Storm brewin, you can feel it." He finished pouring the gas, wiped his two-toned brow with his sleeve and put his hat on his head. "That’ll get ya to the next station."

"Thanks. You sure I can’t...

"Nope. Good Lord blesses me, I do what I can when I see a chance."

He peered into the back window of Bee & frowned. "You goin’ far?"

I nodded. "To the Yukon. Just me and my dog." Klondike gave a low growl for effect.

Shorty took a step back. "Huh. Lookin’ fer gold, eh?"

"Well, sort of."

He slipped a crooked finger across the rim of his hat and gave a quick jerk of his head. "Journey mercies to ye, then."

That night, I tried to write Shorty into my journal, but the storm he’d predicted boomed out of a low black cloud that left only a thin line of light where it met the ground. Klondike shivered beside me and the walls of my pup tent flapped like sails. Just as the hail hit it collapsed around us. I tried to set it up again but the hail battered me till I gave up, stuffed it and the dog into old Bee and tried to sleep sitting up. As the hail turned to rain I decided to drive around to the laundry I’d seen at the middle of the campground. Bee’s windshield wipers were threatening to fly off due to centrifugal force, so the wide dark patch beside it was a blur. Bee hummed right onto it and held her ground for about five seconds. Then she started to sink. It was a battle to get the door open and by the time Klondike and I got into the laundry, we were drenched and covered in mud. Shorty was sitting on top of one of the driers, his short legs forming a perfect curve to the tip of his warn boots dangling about a foot off the floor.

He peered through the window. "Looks like you’ll be needin a tow once this lets up."

"I thought it was a driveway."

"Garden patch, more like."

Klondike shook himself and fell over. Shorty let out a cackle, then turned a deep red under his burnished skin, and apologized. "Sorry, ma’am. Just ain’t seen many tripods like that."

I smoothed the fur on Klondike’s wet head. "He got caught in a trap. They had to amputate."

Shorty nodded. "Know what that’s all about. Been there."

I pushed my wet sleeping bag into the washer. "You’ve been caught in a trap?"

"Yup. One of my own makin’, though the Devil did his part."

I waited, knowing he’d go on.

"Left home when I was about your age. Hooked up with a raw bunch and almost followed them to hell. Then I met Myrtle. She was workin’ as a teller in the bank we tried to rob. One o’ my partners pretended he had a gun in his pocket. Myrtle didn’t scare easy - grabbed his arm and pulled his hand out. Shoulda seen the look on that boy’s face when Myrtle started laughin’. Those boys ran like chickens from a fox and left me standin there."

"Were you arrested?"

Shorty grinned. "Nope. But you might say I got a life sentence. Myrtle told me what I needed was a meal and the Lord Jesus. Married her six months later. On my way home to her now."

Shorty stretched himself down from the drier. "Kinda looks to me like you could use a dose of Myrtle’s medicine yerself. There’s a diner down the road. How ‘bout some breakfast?"

My stomach chose that moment to growl, so I grinned back at him and agreed. The breakfast was huge and Shorty talked his way through it. It was then I realized his eyes were the kind that really saw what they were looking at, and he kept them trained on me.

Yes, I remember Shorty well, but I remember the joy more. The joy when I prayed with him after that big breakfast, the joy when I waved good-bye after he’d pulled Bee out of the mud. The joy that stayed with me when I turned around and headed home.

There was no need to go on. I’d already struck gold.

Gulp

I took a leap of faith just before Christmas. I spent about two weeks editing my fiction manuscript, One Smooth Stone, and then sent it to the Castle Quay contest for new Canadian Christian writers. By the time I sent it out, I was pretty much convinced it wasn't very good, but knowing that stage tends to happen to most writers I sent it out anyway. Mostly because of the encouragement of friends. It's hard to stay objective when you get that close.
Now the waiting - four months of waiting since the short list won't be announced until May. Now the challenge of trying not to think about it.

I've been looking at an old ms., The Witnesses, that almost got published years ago. It's a fantasy adventure novel for juvenile readers. I really had fun writing it, and the sequel to it, but when that promising contract didn't materialize I got discouraged and shelved it. I even started # 3 long ago, but haven't gone back to it yet. If One Smooth Stone doesn't win with CQ, I'll try marketing The Witnesses. That will be a 'cold call' so it means putting the proposal together etc. which isn't my most favourite thing to do, but oh well. Necessary evils.

As 2006 swings into its first week I'm tempted to set some goals, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Other than the general - write more, speak more, sell more books.
I do want to be more consistent with blogging.

We'll see what the year delivers.
:)M