Tag Archives: inspiration

The Potter and the Clay

My pot

One of the pots I made in college

A couple weeks ago, one of the pastors of our church, Pastor Care Crawford, gave one of the most moving sermons. Care’s voice is very soothing anyway, so that added to the nuances of the story. And the fact that the sermon sounded more like a story made it even more intriguing for me.

Care talked about loving Play-Doh as a child, and taking a pottery class in college. I was totally in sync with what she was saying because that was me, too. Then she talked about the Bible passages about God being like a potter with plans for each and every pot that he makes. And we’re the clay.

Since Care has had pottery classes, she explained exactly what happens in the creation of a pot. And since I’ve taken a pottery class, I knew what she was talking about, and I could completely see the parallels between the potter and the clay, and God and us.

It’s not that I haven’t heard sermons on this topic before, but the life I’ve been living recently has been seriously tough. And being reminded about how you have to handle clay to make a beautiful pot was seriously helpful in gaining perspective on what’s been happening.

Right down to remembering what it’s like to squeeze the clay back down to a ball because it’s not shaping up right. I didn’t do that because I hated the pot I was making or because I had it in for the clay. I did it because I knew I could make the pot better and the clay could take it. I’ve still got some pots I made in college, and I still love them.

So I’ve been trying to keep in mind lately that God knows what he’s trying to accomplish, and it’s better than the life I’ve lived until now. And like the clay, God believes I can take the pounding. That makes me believe I can, too.

My Hero

I’ve been writing stories, or at least making them up, since I can remember. I’ve been writing romantic stories since 1986. But since 1990 all of my heroes have begun to look the same. Normally that would be a problem for a professional writer.

But it’s not a problem for me. Because all of my heroes are based on my husband. 🙂

I’ve been working on my novel Little Miss Lovesick, which I plan to release as an ebook next month. Reading it over again for the first time in a few years, I’m seeing how many of John’s characteristics appear in the hero, Matt. Tall, dark and handsome. Makes the heroine, Sydney, laugh. Kisses like fireworks. <giggle>

Of course, all the heroes in my stories aren’t John verbatim. That would be boring to read – and perhaps eventually boring to write. But we’ve been together since our sophomore year of college, so there are plenty of bits and pieces to use. Sometimes something real simply gives me an idea for something I later make up.

In any case, I think John’s a pretty romantic guy. So I’m sure one way or another I’ll be making up romantic stories for the rest of my life. I’m a pretty lucky girl.

Going Faster by Going Slower

Kissing our finisher medals at Bondi Beach

On Tuesday, the official times came out for the City2Surf runners. John and I were pretty well shocked! Last year he ran the race in 1 hour, 31 minutes, 42 seconds (1:31:42). I ran it in 2:13:27. We both ran the whole way, including up the 2km Heartbreak Hill. (I thought I was going to die, but I ran it.)

This year John ran the 14km race in 1:16:49! That’s 14 minutes 53 seconds faster! And we were both whining about how we’re in worse shape this year. With the encouragement of my friend Camy, I used the Galloway method, a series of run/walk intervals, up the hills so that I walked a total of about 10-12 minutes of the race, coming in with a final time of 1:52:44! I went 20 minutes and 43 seconds faster!

Cold and wet before the race even starts - the banner says, "Here for the long run"

Now, if you’re like us, you’re wondering what in the world we did differently, especially if we say we were in worse shape. (And that’s a fact – we were topping out at about 11km during our training runs, but last year we were running hills and doing about 15-20km big runs.) We figured out that probably the biggest factor was that last year we were also entered in a half marathon in September, about five weeks after the City2Surf. We’d never run this course before, we’d heard how horrible Heartbreak Hill was, and we were trying to save ourselves and not hurt ourselves before our bigger race.

John pretends to run when the gun goes off - too many people to move quickly, you have to walk at first

Due to our schedules, we aren’t running the half marathon this year. We decided to just relax and have as much fun as we could and if we came in 10 or 15 minutes slower than last year, so be it. We never dreamed relaxing and having fun with it – and me walking part of the race – would improve our times so drastically.

My friend Lauraine pointed out there’s a good life lesson here. Sometimes we have to slow down in order to move faster. When I was feeling winded, I stopped running and walked at a leisurely pace for 60 seconds. By then, I had my breath back and when I started running again, I was moving faster. I kept telling myself when I was tired – particularly up Heartbreak Hill – that I only had to run for the balance of the five minutes and then I could take a breather. That promise helped me to keep up my pace.

Soaking wet before we start - but happy to be there

I wonder in how many areas of our lives we can apply this. I know I can apply it on overly busy days. Sometimes I have to just sit down for as little as fifteen seconds and close my eyes and think of only the next three things I have to do. It helps me to focus, which helps me to get those three things done just a little bit faster and/or better.

I’ve tried several different writing routines including the “write as fast as you can and fix it later” approach that so many people tout. But over the last few years, between National Novel Writing Month’s 50,000-word spree and my many homework assignments and due dates, I’ve found that really does not yield me the best long-term results.

Wringing a stream of water out of my sweatshirt after the rain dumped on us

For me, I have to write the scene in my head until it’s done. Then instead of moving on, I go back and add in all the parts that were still in my head because I was typing too fast to get it all out. Once the scene is pretty well written, I can move on to the next scene. When I come back to do the second draft, there is far less work to be done. I may take longer to write a first draft, but I can finish the whole book more quickly by taking my time.

The other thing that made me think about its life application is this. I ran slow enough last year that I had to move into a slower group this year, the Yellow Start. The only people starting after the Yellow group was the Orange, people who didn’t plan on running or who were going to push baby strollers. I was pretty bummed about having to be in the slow group.

Why did it have to rain NOW? But did we run faster because of the weather?

But then I got an email before the race. The Yellow Start group was going to try to break a Guiness Book of World Records record for the most people stretching at one time. The last record was 9000 people in London. A few minutes before the start gun went off for the Yellow group, someone led us in group stretches. The old record was broken – more than 20,000 people stretched together on Sunday! And I was a part of it! It made me think I shouldn’t whine when things don’t go my way. Instead I should look for the silver lining, the little extras we wouldn’t have had if things went as planned.

What about you? Does any of this ring true for things in your life?

A Long and Winding Road – A Guest Blog by Laura Drake

After fourteen years of trying, I signed with an agent last week! That’s a lot of years. Kitty has watched quite a few of them. She asked me to share my story.

Before I learned to ride my own, I rode pillion on my husband’s motorcycle. A lot. A hundred thousand miles’ worth.  That’s a lot of hours, and it was before motorcycle intercoms were invented. It can get boring. I learned to prop a paperback on hubby’s back and read on the long straightaways.  But you can’t read all day and after awhile, my brain would empty of the day-to-day thoughts and cast about for something new to think about.

Due to the speed on a motorcycle, your memories come in snippets – you catch a snapshot and it’s gone: a small town celebrating the Fourth of July with a parade, the queen in silk on a hay wagon. A piebald pony, standing in knee deep grass in Utah, ominous thunderclouds in the background.  A herd of antelope in Wyoming, racing our motorcycle.

Then one day, riding into the small town of Kernville, California, a dog ran in front of our bike. After a butt clenching scare, he trotted back the way he came, and we rode on. But I started thinking. What if someone came along and hit the dog?  What if a girl riding a motorcycle came along . . .

The idea grew. It wouldn’t go away. I began writing ideas in a notebook in our tent at night.  When we got home, I sat at my computer, blank file open in front of me. I wrote a bit, but mostly I fidgeted.  I knew this wasn’t a short story – that might not have freaked me out. This was a novel.

But wait, who was I to write a novel?  I’ve been an avid reader all my life; I knew good writing.

I dithered for a few years, at an impasse. Half of my mind wouldn’t let go of the story, the other half wouldn’t let me write it. Then one day, an amazing thing happened. I realized I had a ‘delete’ key on my keyboard. I could write the novel, and no one would ever have to see it!

That was three novels ago. I won’t go into the rest of the story here. You’ve heard it from a hundred writers; the ups, the downs, the twists and turns in the road.

Since then, I’ve learned to ride my own motorcycle. I found that I love the windy roads best – you never know what you’ll find around the next bend. It could be a snippet of vision that makes your soul rise – it could be something that tightens your sphincter. I love every bit of it.

I’ve told my friends, if someday I encounter the end around one of those bends, don’t be sad.  I went smiling — doing what I love.

For the same reason, I’ll never quit writing. I can’t fail, because it isn’t about getting published; it’s about doing what I love.

Where are you on the winding road? Is publication your destination, or something else? Any mishaps or memories you’d like to share?

 

Laura Drake never got over her cowboy crush. She writes romance and women’s fiction revolving around the world of Professional Bull Riding. Her recent WF novel, The Sweet Spot, has won The Great Expectations, Fab 5, The Sheila, and has finaled in The Orange Rose Contest. You can follow her on http://WritersintheStorm.wordpress.com.

 

Guest Blogging at Writers in the Storm

I’m honored to be the guest of my friends at Writers in the Storm today. Please stop by and say hello. I meant to write a post about how exercise – for me, running – is good for your creativity and productivity. But I ended up writing an inspirational post about how running taught me that competing against yourself is the best way to improve.

I hope you enjoy it. And while you’re there, check out the other posts at Writers in the Storm. They have some really great articles!

Happy Friday to you! Happy Saturday morning from me!  🙂