Out Stealing Horses

As a writer, I've read many, many books on the writing process. I also love to read for the sheer enjoyment of it, but since the writing bug bit me several years ago, I read with a writer's eye, that is...as I read, I pay attention to how the author coins a phrase so that it evokes an emotion from me, how they describe the setting so I feel as if Im been there, how they plot the action so I feel like I'm right in the thick of it.

Today I read an excerpt from Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson that made me stop and think about the process of writing...

What I do, which I have never let anyone know, is I close my eyes every time I have to do something practical apart from the daily chores everyone has, and then I picture how my father would have done it or how he actually did do it while I was watching him, and then I copy that until I fall into the proper rhythm, and the task reveals itself and grows visible, and that’s what I have done for as long as I can remember, as if the secret lies in how the body behaves towards the task at hand, in a certain balance when you start, like hitting the board in a long jump and the early calculation of how much you need, or how little, and the mechanism that is always there in every kind of job; first one thing and then the other, in a context that is buried in each piece of work, in fact as if what you are going to do already exists in its finished form, and what the body has to do when it starts to move is to draw aside the veil so it all can be read by the person observing.

Per Petterson (2003/2007). Out Stealing Horses. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press.

I thought about the character and how he watched his father for clues when tackling a task he was unsure of and how taking those first steps the task seemed to reveal itself to him, so that he knew which step - which direction to take next.  I liked the idea of treating the piece of work as if it already exists in its finished form and then letting yourself be lead to the completion of the work.

It's like stepping out in faith, trusting that God will direct my writing as I go - seeing the finished product, then allowing God to take me there.

I've sort of been stuck at the beginning of my novel, afraid to take the next step because I'm not sure of the right direction.  I think that's because I've been trying to get there on my own, instead of allowing my Father to show me the way.

Over the next several days, I want to form a mental picture of my book, finished and doing well. Blessing those who read it - a work I can be proud of - one that agents and publishers would be proud to represent. Then, I'm going to start again, allowing Father, God to direct my writing.

It won't matter how long it takes or how many times I have to revise it, because each step of the journey will be revealed to me.

At least that's my plan...and it's a better plan than any I've had before, so we'll see what happens.

What do you think about this excerpt? Does it resonate with you like it did with me? Feel free to leave your comments. I'd love to hear what you think.

(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Sleep Come Quickly

Sleep come quickly, come deeply, come soon
Let me drift off to Netherlands where my spirit is free.

Let me run with the angels on streets made of gold.
Let me bow with the saints as we worship our Lord.

Let me sit with my Father, who's gone on before
as we speak words of love that we couldn't before.

Sleep come quickly.

(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Wake Up Your Muse

Need a little something to jumpstart your writing? How about a fun summer writing challenge and a chance to win a Wake Up Your Muse coffee mug?

In celebration of my upcoming release of Wake Up Your Muse - 1001 Story Starters for Fiction Writers, due out in October 2011, I'm is hosting a short story challenge.

Just hop on over to http://www.wakeupyourmuse.com, select one of five writing prompts from my book and enter to win.

You can also check out the Wake Up Your Muse writing prompt generator on the site.

Have fun and keep writing!


Starbucks Search Week

You all know that since my Borders is closing that I am in need of a new "Cheers" to do my away from home writing.  Thanks to LindaLou, who suggested I try Starbucks, I'm declaring this week Starbucks Search Week!

I know of at least 3 close to me and I'll bet I can find 2 more fairly close, so I'll go to one each day this week to see which one has the best atmosphere and friendliest staff.

If that doesn't work...I'll be trying other places close to me. Gotta find someplace I can run to when the house starts closing in on me.

There is a Barnes & Noble nearby and I like the idea of being surrounded by books while I write, so maybe I'll give that a whirl, too. Wish there was a little Mom/Pop Cafe that serves great (and cheaper) coffee (preferably lattes) that wouldn't mind if I hung out there, but again, I wouldn't be surrounded by books. Could do the library, but...no coffee.

Feel free to suggest other places you think might work.

Wish me luck!

(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Who's Watching the Children?

Flash Fiction based on an experience I witnessed at McDonalds this evening...

"Do you like cookies and ketchup?"

I looked down to see a little girl about 5 years old pumping ketchup into a white paper cup. She lined it up with five other filled cups on the counter, licked some excess ketchup off her fingers and then reached for another cup.

"I like cookies and ketchup," she said pumping the next cup full.

"Alicia! Come here now!" called a woman standing in line to place her order.

She looked at me as if I were some kind of pervert who had enticed her daughter into a conversation.

I finished filling my cup with Diet Coke as the child reached for another cup and began pumping. "Do you want some ketchup?" she asked.

"Alicia! I said come here," called her mother again.

Alicia ignored her and continued filling the cup. "You want some ketchup?" she asked again, setting one of the white cups on my tray.

"Thank you," I said.

Alicia's mother stepped out of line, stormed across the room and snatched her daughter away, leaving 7 little white paper cups filled with ketchup sitting in a neat row on the stainless steel counter.

As she passed, the woman gave me a dirty look.

So, I guess it was my fault that her daughter was talking to a stranger.

Wake up people!

(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)