did you ever scribble in the margins?

did you ever–
while the teacher lectured
and your high school crush sat across the room
and the class brown-noser took notes like his life depended on it
–scribble in the margins?

did you ever
when you got stuck sitting next to the class nitwit
glance at the brilliant doodles
crowding his wide ruled paper
notebook abandoned
on his desk after he got sent (((again))) to the principal’s office?

in the space between fine crafted outlines and
the edge
of the paper did you ever
find
yourself?

cuz’ they have it all wrong in kindergarten. inside the lines is for sissies.

*****

“[Jesus] said ‘Follow me’ and ended up with a lot of losers. And these losers ended up, through no virtue or talent of their own, becoming saints. Jesus wasn’t after the best but the worst.” ~Eugene Peterson

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How do you spell relief? Thoughts on the eve of publication.

pregnant-belly2R-E-L-E-A-S-E.

That’s how I spell relief.

Lots of folks are asking, so I figured I’d talk about how I’m feeling about my book’s debut, which happens in five short days.

Of course I’m excited.

Of course I’m thrilled.

Of course I am on my knees with gratitude when I consider how many twists and turns this manuscript has taken and the years which have passed from conception to publication.

But today, I feel relieved.

The editing is done–all umpteen rounds of it.

The cold dinners, on-your-own dinners, lame dinners, and lack of dinners my family have suffered as I struggled to keep my head above the water during the months of hard work have subsided–some. (I’ve never been the best at cooking multi-course family dinners anyway. Family dinners, yes. But too often, Pop-Tarts have counted as a main course.)

Blank expressions on my face because my brain is functioning, thinking, working in a whole other dimension called Storyland rather than being present in real life have been replaced with … um … well … blank expressions. Because my brain feels is blank. I’ve got nothin’.

Fur balls (from my three goldens who are currently all blowing their coats) are being consistently swept, the lizard is getting fed, and I even wiped down a baseboard or two the other day.

I am not lamenting the process. I love the writing. I even enjoy the editing. And I never, ever take how far I’ve come for granted. Not for a second. But I am plum wore out, people. I’m not kidding when I say I feel as if I’ve been pregnant with this sucker for eight long years. The last two years of editing have felt like a constant series of Braxton Hicks, a push and pull of what to cut and what to add, what to celebrate about the publishing industry, and what to shrug off of my too-thin skin. I dream about commas and ellipses, type-os and plot outlines. I wake up nauseous thinking about a scene I forgot to add or a scene I worry I shouldn’t have left in. I’ve been waddling around with the heavy expectation that everyone in the whole entire world is going to hate my book, and on Sunday, March 2, my Amazon ratings are going to consist of thousands of little, tiny, one-star beratings.

But overall, relief for me is release. The book is what it is, the best I could do at this time in my career. All of my heart. All of my tears. And the truth is, just like a real child, the story is–and always was–in God’s hands.

The funny ridiculous thing is, just like I told my husband 15 minutes after the 22 hours of labor and emergency procedures with my first born son, I want to do it all again.

Surely this means I am a crazy person.

Lucky for me, on my desk this very moment sets the biggest 3-ring binder ever known to man. The binder holds 283 pages of my second novel, which, in its current developmental stage, thoroughly and completely and overwhelmingly sucks. I have three months to fix it. 6-8 months of edits after that. And in the spring of 2015, it’s due to emerge from the womb of literary incubation just like this one.

After that, I’ll be relieved.

And then, I’ll want to do it again.

And again.

And again.

farmers get it worst

Farmers get it worst.

Throwing faith to the wind or Holy Spirit or whatever

catches their hunched-shouldered plod

across winter barren fields

believing rows will spring up

taller than their heads by July.

Full body dungarees are not armor enough

to withstand this summer scorch,

cracking and sucking from spring coffee ground soil

until it lay

fragile and thick and hollow

beneath their steel toed boots.

Yes, farmers get it worst.

Those who put a hand up to

shield

their eyes and cry out

to the sun or the sky or God

or maybe all three.

But nothing comes from their mouth. No scream or curse.

Just a long, cold sigh.

And then

they turn away from the blistering orb

and trudge toward home to wait.

Yes, farmers get it worst. 

Farmers get it

worst

of

all.

*****

*****

“. . . some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced . . .” Mark 4:4-8 NKJV

*****