A Love Letter to Lent

Dear Lent,

Every year, I feel like I fail you. You are 40 days (plus 6 Sundays) for me to really restart my faith. This year, in particular, I feel like I didn’t do enough. I should have tried harder. Prayed more. Given up something more challenging. I’m just not as different now as I hoped I’d be. And yet, I had my priest encourage me to look at what God has done this Lent, not what I’ve done. When I look at you that way, I see how beautiful and fruitful and unexpected you have truly been this year.

Today is Holy Saturday. You are drawing to a close. Tonight and tomorrow we will stand in our churches and proclaim an earth-shattering truth that we’ve heard so many times, it doesn’t shake us. We’ve gotten used to it. But it is still true and it is still utterly amazing. Christ is risen.

I remember, probably a decade ago, I came to a realization during Holy Week that Jesus actually died. Maybe it was seeing the bodies of my uncle and great-grandmother at their funerals that convinced me how astonishing that was. That Jesus was really and truly dead. His soul left and what was taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb was nothing more than a body. This realization felt stupid; duh, Clare, you’ve heard this at every single Mass you’ve ever been to in your life. But God assured me it wasn’t stupid. It was important. It was good. What would the Crucifixion be worth if Jesus had just been kidding?

Last night for Good Friday, I watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ for the first time. It’s hard to explain how powerful that was for me, but I’ll try to put it this way: As I watched Jesus being scourged nearly to death, suffering unimaginably before he’d even taken up His cross, the thought that kept going through my head was, “I don’t feel worth this.” And what God continually responded to me with was, “This is how much I love you. This is how much you are worth.” Whether or not I believed it or felt worthy of it, I knew it was true.

As I type this, I’m listening to ‘Pieces’ by Amanda Cook on repeat. I think this song captures what Jesus was expressing with every step, every drop of blood of His Passion. He gave Himself fully, completely, holding nothing back – for me. That ‘for me’ statement is true for all of us. For me, as though I were the only one in the whole world. Jesus would have gone up on that cross and died the definition of an excruciating death if I was the only sinner in existence. He would have gone the whole nine yards whether or not I ever loved Him back – whether or not I even believed in Him.

Unreserved, unrestrained, your love is wild Your love is wild for me
It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed, your love is proud to be seen with me
You don’t give your heart in pieces, you don’t hide yourself to tease us
Uncontrolled, uncontained, you love is a fire
Burning bright for me
It’s not just a spark, it’s not just a flame your love is a light
That all the world will see
You don’t give your heart in pieces, you don’t hide yourself to tease us
Your love’s not fractured, it’s not a troubled mind
It isn’t anxious
It’s not the restless kind
Your love’s not passive
Its never disengaged
It’s always present
It hangs on every word we say
Love keeps it promises
It keeps its word
It honors what’s sacred
Cause its vows are good
Your love’s not broken
It’s not insecure
Your love’s not selfish
You love is pure
You don’t give your heart in pieces, you don’t hide yourself to tease us 

You have been a very good Lent, whether or not I feel it. Throughout these 46 days, God shook me down to my deepest wound, challenged me, grew me and blessed me beyond anything I could ever imagine.

So, thank you. I’ll see you again next year.

Love,

Clare

 

More like this:

A Love Letter to Anxiety

A Love Letter to Advent

A Love Letter to God

 

Some Thoughts on Patience

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about patience.

If there’s one thing I could use more of, it’s patience. I need to be patient with my writing because it’s happening, even if it’s happening slowly. I need to be patient with God and trust His timing in my life. I need to be patient with myself as I struggle against anxiety and try to figure out my next steps in life. I need to be patient with the people I love because they are just as imperfect and incomplete as I am.

Sometimes I just want to be done waiting and get to the part where I’m there, having done/doing the thing or living the life I’ve been waiting for. Today I had a conversation with my boss about how the tough thing about patience is that you’re never DONE being patient. Even if you get to the the thing you’ve been waiting for, there’s always something new to have to wait and be patient for.

So then I guess life is one long string of waiting for something…unless you stop just living for the next thing and start being present in the moment.

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I’m really bad at this. That’s why I bought this shirt, as a wearable reminder to myself.

I tend to live in the theoretical someday because it is either more interesting or more concerning than the present. The older I get, the more I realize how much time I waste and how much I miss by doing that. True, a lot of the time, the present moment is painful or hard or even just boring, but it’s only going to happen once and if I miss it, that’s it, it’s gone.

It becomes easy to live in the past, which has already happened and we can replay, or the future, which hasn’t happened and we can imagine however we want. Living in the moment is hard. The moment is happening now and it’s always moving. It takes patience. It takes conscious effort. I’m trying, but I know I still have a long way to go.

I started thinking about this quote from Rainer Maria Rilke this afternoon. I think it captures what I mean.

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“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as though they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future. you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

So, here I am, waiting, trying to live in the moment, to love the questions, and praying for patience.

 

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

Shelving Being Daniel & What’s Next?

I promised an update on Being Daniel at the beginning of February, and here it finally is.

Like I planned, I started over and rewrote Being Daniel from the beginning. That process started out very rewarding and exciting and as I went, I thought, “Awesome! This is going to work!” But then something happened.

I got to the part that had really given me trouble in my original draft, the part that I had rushed because I didn’t know what to do with it; the nitty-gritty of why the relationship between the primary characters doesn’t work. I found that I still didn’t know what to do with it. But I kept trying. I had so many ideas and did more research to be certain I was portraying this emotionally abusive relationship as sensitively but authentically as possible.

Unfortunately, I’ve realized that now just isn’t Being Daniel‘s time. I’m not in a place where I am able to mentally or emotionally dig deep where I need to, but even more than that, there are elements in the story that aren’t fully formed in my head and heart. I’ve gotten feedback, tried writing my way through those underdeveloped parts and given it my best effort; the story just isn’t ready.

So now what?

Well, I’ve been asked to write a play for a local homeschool group! I wrote a play two years ago for them and it was such a fun experience watching them bring it to life. I’m going to focus on writing the best play that I can for them and see where I am after that. I’m hopeful Being Daniel will be a published book someday, but I’m at peace with shelving it for the time being.

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

 

More Posts on Being Daniel:

Writing Alcohol

Being Daniel – 95 Days To Go

What I Wrote Today 1

What I Wrote Today 2

What I Wrote Today 3

Being Daniel Concept Art

 

How Ted Met Penny

Today, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day. A day to reflect on the brevity of life and a day to celebrate romantic love. I thought it would be fitting to share something from a story of mine that captures the spirit of this day.

My short play To Whom It May Concern was performed back in May of 2015 by the Words Players Theatre in Rochester, MN as part of their 10th Annual Thornton Wilder Play Festival. It was an incredible experience writing, casting and directing what became a deeply personal and powerful work of art.

The play opens with newlyweds Penny and Ted getting moved into their first house. While unpacking, Penny discovers a stack of letters from her deceased husband, Howard. The letters are addressed “to whom it may concern”, and Penny realizes they are for Ted.

I’m planning on talking more about this play and the profound impact it had on my life in another post, but for now, I want to share an excerpt from the novelization of it that I’m working on.

Happy Valentine’s Day, hope Lent gets off to a good start for you!

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Photo credit: Joel Kuhlmann

Jordan had absolutely insisted that Ted come to the party. Ted would have much rather stayed home, read a book, and gone to bed at 9:30. But Jordan said he would not be moving again for forty years, at least, and Ted owed it to him to come and warm his house with everyone else. So Ted found himself getting out of a taxi on a picturesque suburban street in front of a shabby but quaint little house. Jordan was getting married in a few months and planned to work on improving the place before the wedding. It began to rain as Ted walked up the steps, and he was greeted noisily by Jordan who was already tipsy. Jordan promptly introduced Ted to twelve people who greeted him politely and proceeded to ignore him for the rest of the evening. They were all dressed as though this were a formal affair and Ted regretted having worn his favorite sweater, keenly aware of the small hole in the left sleeve. He knew one other person, Ralph, the fellow who played the piano the entire night, but Ralph was not much of a talker.
There was a woman there who stood out to Ted because, though she was not the center of attention, people seemed to gravitate towards her anyway. She was a woman in her late twenties who dressed and styled her hair simply but elegantly. She didn’t say much, but she laughed loudly and appreciatively at everyone who spoke to her.
Jordan tried to get everyone to play parlor games for an hour and finally, they urged Ralph to play them a slow one and paired off to dance around the piano.
So Ted, feeling underdressed and out of place, had gotten himself a glass of scotch and handful of oyster crackers and went out to the back porch. He found he was not alone — the woman who laughed loudly was sitting on the steps, watching the rain, swirling her champagne around in its glass.
“Oh, hello,” she said, startled as Ted came out the back door.
“Oh, no, I’m sorry,” Ted said, staring at her and taking a step back. “Am I…”
“No, no, please, come on out,” she replied. “There’s all the wrong kind of noise in there right now, I know,”
“Ah, yes,” Ted laughed nervously and walked till he stood at the top of the steps, glancing nervously down at the top of her auburn head. He noticed she had her shoes off and was resting her feet in the puddle forming at the bottom of the steps.
“So, uh, how do you know Jordan?” he asked.
“I’m good friends with Cynthia,”
“His fiance,”
“Yes,”
A distant clap of thunder could be heard echoing over the trees and houses.
“Go on, sit down,” she invited, patting the space beside her on the step.
Hesitantly, Ted sat down beside her, stealing a look at her out of the corner of his eye. She was so beautiful in a soft, easygoing way but something about the crinkles on the corners of her eyes revealed a deep sadness in her heart, somewhere.
He looked away and cleared his throat. “You know, Jordan is the first of my friends to get married,”
She nodded absentmindedly. “Mm. I was the first of mine,”
“Oh,” Ted was surprised how crestfallen he felt at hearing this. “Is your husband here tonight?”
She glanced at him and smiled so sadly it melted his heart. “No. I haven’t got a husband anymore. He died,”
Ted raised his eyebrows. “I’m sorry,”
“Don’t be. It was years ago,”
Ted didn’t know what to say, but she changed the subject anyway. “They’ll have a nice backyard,” she observed. “Once Jordan cleans it up a bit.”
“That tree would be perfect for a tree house.”
She laughed. “You’re right.”
“And I think Cynthia was talking about putting in a garden.”
She sighed heavily, a contented sigh. “I like rain.”
“Mm. I like it during the day, but not when it’s dark out like this.”
“Mm, yes. I wish it would clear up so we could see the stars,” She looked upward at the curtain of raindrops coming down out of the inky night sky.
“Do you know how to find the constellations?” Ted asked her.
She looked at him. “No! Do you?”
“Most of them,” Ted said, smiling nervously at her.
“I lived in the city for so long, I got used to not bothering to try and see the stars,”
They fell silent for a while, listening to the rain in front of them and the merry sounds of the party behind them. They sat, soaking in the quiet between them, a quiet that was comfortable and full, like a body after a good meal.
Ted looked at the woman, at her feet wet in the puddle, at her not caring that the hem of her dress was also getting wet, and back again to her face. He took in the imperfections and the colors in the dim, warm light of the porch lamp. In that moment, her softness made him brave, and he scooted slightly closer to her.
To his delight and surprise, she reciprocated the scoot.
“Do you live around here?” he asked her.
“No, I live downtown,”
“Really? So do I,” Ted said. “I have a little studio apartment,”
“What do you do?” she asked.
“I’m an editor — or, I’m becoming one,” Ted replied. “I’m up for a job with a small publishing company,”
“Really? That sounds wonderful. Do you edit books, newspapers?”
“Books.”
“So you like to read,” she said with a smile.
He nodded. “I love it,”
“What do you read?”
“Mainly mystery novels,”
She laughed that loud, pretty laugh. “I don’t know much about mystery stories. What are the good ones?”
“The classics are always good — Sherlock Holmes and all that,” Ted replied.
“I should read more,” she said softly.
They were quiet for a while. She drew her feet up out of the puddle and shivered a little.
“Here,” Ted took off his jacket and placed it over his shoulders. He started to take his hand away, but she caught it, holding it on her shoulder. She turned and looked at him, smiling warmly.
He smiled back bashfully, but she scooted closer and so did he.
Now here’s a real woman, Ted remembered thinking. Nothing fake or put on about her. She had a genuine sincerity that matched his, something he hadn’t encountered before. By the end of the night he got her number, and, from then on, he had eyes for no one else.

 

Thank you for reading, God bless!

Clare

 

More posts like this:

What I Wrote Today 1

What I Wrote Today 2

What I Wrote Today 3

Good You Were Here, Chapter 17

 

A Love Letter to Anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

We go way back. I didn’t know your name for a long time and I don’t remember exactly when we met, but I do recall when I was five or six, having that chronic fear of being lost, being locked in rooms or being locked out of the house. You stole a lot of fun and joy out of my childhood.

I got to know you better when I was twelve years old and became convinced that my chronic headaches had to mean I had a brain tumor. I still didn’t know your name, so every time you showed up, I just assumed you were a symptom of whatever was killing me. Finally, I found out that I needed glasses, and when my vision was corrected my headaches went away. But you stuck around in the form of that crippling fear of death, which took years to ease off.

And then, December 2014. That was your big breakout, wasn’t it? I was sitting on my bed and thought I was going insane from the all the thoughts and fears spinning around in my head. I felt so physically ill, I wondered if I’d caught a stomach bug. I grieved a relationship that wasn’t even over yet because you had me so, so, scared. I fought with you for six more months, and finally, I was able to get past you and make the decision I needed. With nothing I could love and lose to torment me over, you faded into the shadows.

But you’re still here. You got a good grip on my heart that night in 2014, and now it’s easier for you to sneak back up on me. (Kind of like heat exhaustion.) You keep flaring up whenever I have to do something new, whenever I fly on a plane, whenever things get too crazy at work, whenever I’m alone for too long, whenever I drink too much caffeine, whenever I perceive something wrong with someone, and whenever I care about something a lot. Could you stop doing that?

At the end of the day, you aren’t me. I believed that lie for a long time. But you’re not. You’re something that happens to me. I know you come from some weird survival instinct, this need in me to protect myself from getting hurt, to weigh the risk vs. reward before doing anything. I’m learning that it’s not my job to protect myself from everything because that’s impossible. At some point, after I’ve thought things through and done my best, I have to trust God enough to let my future be uncertain. 

You and I are probably going to spend the rest of my life together in some capacity. And that’s okay. I won’t live my life afraid of you. That being said, you better believe I’m going to work every single day to be stronger and smarter than you. My life is so much better when you’re in your proper place: keeping me from jumping off of bridges and away from possibly-rabid cats.

I’m choosing not to be afraid of you. Even when you jump me and pin me to the floor, sitting on top of my chest and asking me a million questions, I’m trying to choose not to be afraid of you. You drive me straight into the Garden with my God who was so anxious, He was sweating blood. He knows you better than I do, and you didn’t stop Him. You won’t stop me, either. 

As I wrote in my journal back on January 21st: “This is just anxiety. It’s just something that is happening to you. It will go away, and when it does, you will still be here. Don’t be afraid.”

Love,

Clare

Anxiety, Gratitude & Self-Compassion

Late in the day, but here is my post, as promised. I’m currently committed to doing a blog post every Tuesday and Friday, and today my little dinosaur-themed reminder went off on my phone, telling me that this is a blog post day.

Today was weird. So was yesterday. I had a horrible hair day that turned my self-confidence into a little pile of mush, I learned that a friend’s father passed away, I learned a man from my parish also passed away, I didn’t get enough sleep, I ate too much sugar, and my roommate has left town for the weekend.

I feel troubled, disoriented, anxious, not myself. I’m reflecting very hard on life and death. Everything feels too scary and hard right now.

As I thought about what I could possibly bring myself to post while I’m feeling all these messy, complicated things, I decided this was what I needed to write.

Here is a list of things I’m grateful for, and some reasons to be compassionate towards myself. Maybe my lists will help you. Maybe they will prompt you to write your own.

Right Now I Am Grateful For…

  • This Nature’s Truth ‘Happiness’ essential oil blend I just got.
  • These growing pains. All I have grown and will grow into.
  • The gift of writing that God has given me.
  • Hope. This hope that what is broken can come back together, what is messy will be beautiful, and that I know who I am and where I’m going, no matter how lost I feel in this moment.
  • The fact that Joe and Tweetie will be back in town this weekend. I’ve missed them.

Reasons to Be Compassionate Towards Myself…

  • You only just moved. The change is catching up with you. You are adjusting to your new place and in some ways a new life.
  • Death is scary. It’s sad. Don’t let it become an anxiety that eats you up inside. You can use this awareness of how fragile and uncertain life is to foster gratitude, love, and mindfulness.
  • It’s okay to feel disoriented and not like yourself. You are changing and growing. Growing can be painful. But you have changed and grown before; you will come out better and more beautiful in the end. Eventually, you will feel like yourself again, even if she is someone different in the future.
  • God’s got you, and you are where you’re supposed to be.
  • Life is always changing. Tomorrow is a new day. You will be okay.

 

What are you grateful for? What are some reasons to be more self-compassionate? Thanks for reading, new post coming Tuesday. God bless,

Clare

 

Other Posts On Anxiety:

A Ride Home

Winter

Journal Entries 1

How I Journal – Prayer In Spite of Anxiety

Blogmas 2017 – Day 31/31 – 2018 Goals Pt. 2

Happy Feast of the Holy Family!

Today is the last day of Blogmas 2017. It’s been a wild ride of a December for me, but on December 1st I set out  to write a blog post everyday in Decemeber. Did I accomplish that? No. No, I did not. But I did write 24 blog posts (including this one). I’ll try again next year, but overall, I’m happy with what I accomplished for Blogmas 2017.

Without further ado, here is a revised list of goals for 2018. I’m sure this will continue to change and grow as we get into the new year, but right now, on December 31st, 2017, these are my hopes and aspirations.

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  • Learn hand-lettering
  • Go on 3 dates (?)
  • MOVE OUT.  Check!
  • Publish 3 books
  • Actually try to learn Spanish
  • Travel 2 new places, anywhere.
  • NaNoWriMo 2018
  • Cut down/get all my stuff in neat and tidy order.
  • Create a nice summer wardrobe
  • Exercise somehow
  • Save $3000!
  • Pay off loan woot woot!
  • Road trip with friends?
  • BLOG CONSISTENTLY – Currently my plan is to post 2-3 times a week, but if I can get into a rythym I’ll aim for more posts a week.
    ADDING:
  • Write 1,000 words a day.
  • Continue learning how to cook.
  • Learn how to eat with chopsticks! Just for fun.
  • Write and shoot a short film. This has been an aspration of mine for a long time and I’d finally like to go for it.
  • Write two short plays. I love writing plays and it’s been over a year since I’ve written one. Time to change that. Plus, I was asked last night if I’d write a play for the homeschool group my younger siblings are with, so that’s some good motivation.
  • Continue going to counseling and work on building my confidence and self-esteem.
  • Discern the next steps for my life, particularly come August 2018. My roommate will very likely be moving at that time so I will have to decide if I want to stay here or move again, myself.
  • Go back through my old journals, particularly from 2013-2015. This is a very personal one, but I went through the hardest times of my life over those two years. I know it’s time to go back and see where I was so I can truly appreciate where God has brought me.
  • Read, every day. There are so many books I want to read so I need to commit and just dive in. I’m thinking at least one chapter or ten pages a day, I’ll see what I’m best able to stick to.
  • Say yes to more new things. I often just pass up oppurtunities to learn new games, listen to new music, see new movies, go new places, meet new people. I will make honest efforts in the new year to be humble enough to give new things a try.
  • Pray. Every single day. No expections. I know by now that this is the most important thing in my life. I need God, and prayer is my relationship with Him. Even if all my other goals go out the window, this must be a constant in my life.

Alright, Happy New Year everyone! God bless you and have an amazing 2018!

Clare

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Check out all of Blogmas 2017!

 

Blogmas 2017 – Day 30/31 – 2017 in Review

As the year winds down, here are my Top 7 of 2017. Enjoy!

7. Solo Trip to Rochester June 23

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I had never gone on such a long road trip all by myself before, but I was free one weekend so I made plans to go back for a visit to one of my favorite cities: Rochester, MN, where I lived for nine months back in 2014-15. Originally I had hoped my teenage brother and sister would be able to come along, but the timing didn’t work out. I went anyway. I had to navigate and plan all by myself, and while there were some less-than-perfect moments, it was a huge growing experience.

I got to see a group from the theatre I interned at perform music at my favorite coffee shop and hang out with a few very good friends. It was so much fun and I proved to myself I was much more capable than I’d ever thought.

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(My friend Rae at a pop-up sale we went to together!)

6. Good Morning Bedlam Concert July 15

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This might have been the most fun I had the entire year. I heard that two bands I absolutely love and have really cool memories with, Good Morning Bedlam and Harbor & Home, were playing in Willmar, MN for Market on the Farm. I desperately wanted to go but lacked the confidance to go on my own. I was asking around, trying to find someone who wanted to go with me and at the last minute my sister Terese agreed to come along. It was fantastic. We had an absolute ball and I got to hang out with Good Morning Bedlam, four of the coolest people I know who I am proud to call friends.

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5. Total Solar Eclipse August 21

This was memorable for many reasons. Historic celestial event on the one hand, and seeing a best friend from high school who I hadn’t seen in years on the other.

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It was a rough road trip filled with rain and uncertainty and a lot of boredom and frustration, but I’m so grateful I got to experience it in person.

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I will always remember that little halo of pink light around the moon as it totally eclipsed the sun.

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4. Thanksgiving 2017

My whole family hadn’t been all together in four years or so. This year my oldest sister came with her husband and son from Ohio and my second older sister came from Arizona and we all got together for Thanksgiving at my dad’s parents in Rochester, MN. It was messy and loud and chaotic but it was ours and it was beautiful. The best moment of that week for me was getting drinks with my two older sisters downtown. We had the most amazing conversations and it made me realize all over again how blessed I am to have them in my life.

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3. Wedding October 15th

My oldest friend got married and my sister and I were bridesmaids! From navigating two airports and an hour and a half Uber ride, to getting all dolled up together in the bridal suite and posing for countless photos, it was a beautiful experience and so many happy tears were shed.

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2. Moving Out December 13

This was a totally unexpected thing. I had set a goal to be moved out by March 30th 2018, but the oppurtunity came up to move into an apartment across town from my family. I thought and prayed and asked for advice about it and I decided to take the leap.

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(New bedroom!)

I am so grateful I did; I can tell this was something I needed to keep moving forward and growing as a person. My roommate is the best. Just this morning I woke up to her starting the movie You’ve Got Mail and we watched it together while eating breakfast. Quality.

1. Publishing Good You Were Here May 17th

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I had no idea until March of this year that this was even on the horizon for me. I had committed to writing every day in December 2016, and then I learned about the Kindle Storyteller competition in March 2017. I committed to finishing and publishing this book in time for that contest, and while I missed the deadline, I did it. I published a book!

This book. Goodness. What to even say about it. It has challenged me, grown me, changed the course of my life. I’ve gotten so much amazing feedback on it from people. The most notable and meaningful response was from the mother of one of the other bridesmaids in that wedding back in October. This woman had never met me before but was in the middle of reading Good You Were Here and was practically in tears as she told me how much it meant to her and how beautiful it was.

Dang.

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I love this book, for all that it is and all that it’s done for me. No matter how little money it’s made me, no matter how many little grammatical errors I’ve found after the fact, I consider it a triumph. By the grace of God, it is a triumph.

Other highlights include starting counseling, seeing the musical Matilda in Cincinatti with my older sisters, discovering the album Gone Now by Bleachers, going to a Murder Mystery Dinner Party for Halloween, making some new friends, going on my first date in two years, having a surprise birthday party thrown for me, and seeing the movie Kubo and the Two Strings for the first time.

And there you have it. My 2017 in review. What a year. God has blessed me so much and I’m grateful beyond words.

Tomorrow I’ll post a lookback on Blogmas 2017 and my revised 2018 goals.

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

 

Check out the rest of Blogmas 2017

Get a copy of Good You Were Here

Blogmas 2017 – Day 20/31 – Story Birds

Originally posted here 3/23/17. Why I write.

Some Thoughts – 3/23/17

“Is this it? Are you really going to be a writer?”

I was in my car, on my way to the coffee shop (to write), and as I was going over the train tracks, I asked myself this question. It popped into my head, kind of from nowhere, but it generally spawned from the following self-reflection: “Here I am, driving 20 minutes to go sit in a coffee shop and write when I could have sat at home to write, because I seem to focus on writing better at the coffee shop than at home,” 

So the thought came chasing me down, as it has done before, but never this strongly. “Is this really it? Is this what you’re going to do with your life?”

I am a class-A self-sabotager, so my brain was trying to trick me down all the usual rabbit-holes: calling me out on my flakiness, how I was super into writing as a kid/teenager but I let it drop for three years, how I’m lazy and scared of hard work, how I always aim low in life, my fear that I can’t actually support myself as a fiction writer/playwright, etc., etc.

But I stuffed all that down for a moment, and I thought, “Dang, I want to try. I want to put in all the work and see where it goes,”

As I walked into the coffee shop, carrying my new bag that I bought specifically for the purpose of hauling my writing stuff (to the coffee shop), I greeted the barista who recognizes me because I’m kind of a regular. I’m the girl who comes in and always sits by the window and always gets a small cappuccino. Honestly, I found myself hoping she’d ask me what I do so I could tell her, “Oh, I’m kind of trying to become a freelance fiction writer,” She didn’t.

Kind of? Trying? As I look at how I talk to myself/about myself as a writer, I realize how serious this self-sabotaging thing is. I am becoming a freelance fiction writer. I think I might already be there. Just because I’m not making money yet doesn’t mean I’m not freelancing.

Every time I say, “It’s worth driving 20 minutes so I have better focus and can get more outlining and writing done today,” Every time I say, “Sorry, guys, not tonight, I haven’t written yet today,” Every time I’m reading a book and I highlight the things that stand out to me, things I want to emulate. Every time I pin and (more importantly) read articles on improving one’s writing on Pinterest.

This feels especially important to me right now, at this moment in 2017, when I’m 22 and still living in my parents’ house and trying to save up enough money to move back to a city I loved living in. I have spent so much of the last five-six years of my life lost and insecure. I spent most of those years caught up in a dead-end relationship and a vision of myself as a pathetic, stupid, little girl, which has kept me underachieving and unhappy.

I can feel how, over the last eight months, my mindset has shifted. Back in August, I made this post about the fact that I had officially decided I wanted to start taking my writing seriously. I guess this is a bit of a followup post. I keep praying about my writing and I feel like God is cheering me on, or at maybe doing the God-equivalent of Shia LeBeouf saying “Don’t let your dreams be dreams!!”

I want to. I want to fight for these stories. I want to fight to get them into the world, like beautiful little birds who will land on other people’s windowsills and become part of their lives. I. Love. Telling. Stories. And I love sharing my stories with people. So, please, don’t let me get away with talking like a flaky waffle. I’m already doing the work I need to do to be successful as a writer; I’m writing. Every day. I just need to be brave and keep at it.

So, yes. This is it. I’m a writer, and I’m going to be a writer. As long as that’s where I’m called, that’s where I’ll run. Hopefully, I can send you some story birds soon.

Thank you for reading this. God bless,

Clare

 

My first story bird. 

Check out the rest of Blogmas 2017

Blogmas 2017 – Day 14/31 – Turning 23

Today I turned 23 years old and here, in no particular order, are 23 things I learned while I was 22:

  1. God’s timing is perfect. I still don’t believe that on an emotional level but I have come to trust Him enough to know it’s true.
  2. Gatorade can heal almost anything.
  3. You have to be patient with your heart. Just because you get on Bumble and try out that whole dating app thing doesn’t mean your heart will be in it. Go ahead and delete the app. You’ll get there someday.
  4. People heal and grow at their own pace, some faster, some slower, and that’s okay.
  5. I am doing better than I thought I was.
  6. I have more work to do on myself than I realized.
  7. Laziness feels gross. Being lazy gives you the emotional equivalent of going too long without a shower or without brushing your teeth. Bleah.
  8. You may never be able to get rid of all the anxiety in your life but you can learn how to manage it and be stronger than it.
  9. There are no free snacks on Spirit flights.
  10. There is no shame in going to counseling, even if you think you’re ‘not that bad’. It is empowering to take steps towards being a better you.
  11. You can have a crush on someone and not actually like them at all. I think I’ve learned this one before but I guess I needed to be reminded.
  12. Anxiety makes you feel sick sometimes. Tough it out. Eat some food. Listen to Fear by Ben Rector. Distract yourself. You are more real than your anxiety and you are capable of being kind to yourself in spite of it.
  13. I am, in fact, a Taylor Swift fan. (Sorry, Mom.)
  14. I am lactose intolerant. Goodbye, yogurt. I will miss you.
  15. You must proof-read your book. Mercilessly.
  16. It’s okay if there are some typos in your book. Yes, some people might judge you for it, but some people won’t even notice, you can always fix it, and it’s a learning experience.
  17. Pray. Every single day. I’ve learned this one before, too, and that’s okay.
  18. God is merciful.
  19. I do actually like my hair long. My hair may never be fully low-maintenance and that’s okay.
  20. Saute the onions first.
  21. If your headlight is burnt out and you don’t change it, you will eventually be pulled over.
  22. Sometimes all it takes is putting yourself out there. Be brave. Make the first move when you need to. It is worth it.
  23. It is good that I am here.

 

So grateful for my life, to BE alive, and looking forward to another wonderful year. Thank you, Jesus.

Thank you for reading, God bless,

Clare