Trusting the Writing Process (Year 4)

Four years. Forty eight months. 208 weeks. 1,460 days. Any which way you describe it; I’ve been mindful and reflective of passing another writing milestone. And I’ve learned a lot about the writer’s life along the way.

4th annivMy 4-Year Blogging Experience

Earlier this month I passed my 4-year blogging anniversary. That’s over 250 posts across three blogs (here, Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau, and Journeys to Mother Love), church devotionals, and guest posts on other author blogs. When I published my first blog post, What’s in a Name, I had no idea where my writing would take me. It just felt like the right time to flex my writing muscle.

In 4 years’ time I’ve written from a Christian perspective about emotional and spiritual healing, recovery, and finding our identity. I’ve dug into my own mother wounds and shared the unexpected beauty that surrounded the passing of my mother and my father. I’ve shared the ups and downs of relationships and the challenges of living with ADHD. I took readers with me on my personal pilgrimage to Spain, my mission to Europe, and shown them the joy of partnering with my musical protégé and friend, Pedro González Arbona on his journey into film composing.

A lot of my original posts were only shared with a handful of friends who I felt safe enough to share my writing with. I recently re-read some of those posts and was surprised at their transparency and inspiration: It Takes Courage, When Life Imitates Art, Leaving a Legacy. The formatting isn’t as polished as my current work, but the content is still relevant and poignant.

A few years ago, I submitted my site for a critique by a literary agent who was focused on marketing. That led to the highest hits on my site in one day. Normally I’d think that was a good thing. But her critique of my site drew the interest of other bloggers to see what not to do. That served as an embarrassing reminder of how brutal the publishing industry can be.

Thanks to the interview with Dan Davies last month, that changed! The post, A Behind the Scenes Look at Tempting Fate with Actor Dan Davies, now holds the single day record, and with it a very pleasant reminder of an entertaining interview.

Blogging

So 4 years of blogging has ended on a positive note! I’ll continue as the Holy Spirit leads me, and maybe tackle a revamp of my blog layout in the coming year.

The Ups and Downs of Traditional Publishing

It was also four years ago that I joined the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association. Membership has its benefits, and one of those is receiving notifications of story submissions. Days after attending my first meeting, I received the notification that set my writing in motion:

“Cladach Publishing is seeking authors with an encouraging personal-experience story of healing in mother/child relationships.”

That story submission, my first manuscript, led to publishing “Walking my Mother Home” in Journeys to Mother Love. It seemed like I was on the fast-track to publishing. I did all the right things: attending conferences, marketing, speaking, blogging, and posting on social media like Facebook. It was a lot of work.

Journeys To Mother LoveWhat got lost along the way was my dream to have my memoir published. Except for an intense month of writing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November 2012, work on my memoir, Emerging from the Cocoon, stopped.

An author friend told me back when all of this started that ‘overnight’ success in the publishing world can have its setbacks. She was right.

The publishing seemed to come relatively easy for me then.  Step by step the opportunities opened one after the other, with the Lord aligning all of the people and places at the right time.

Then He directed my writing endeavors towards Spain. While there are a lot of posts here related to my Spanish connection, there is still a great body of work buried deep in my journal.

Sometimes it haunts me, beckoning to be published, at least from a travel perspective.  (Like today, the anniversary of my departure for Europe on the Celebrate Recovery mission.)  But after returning from that mission (my second pilgrimage of sorts), my writing has remained an inward work in progress.

It left me wondering, “where’s the fruit?”

Trusting the Writing Process

The last year has been the hardest part of my writing journey thus far.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to take a sabbatical from serving in CR leadership. It was a difficult decision, but I knew I needed a break.  I had poured myself into the mission, writing all about it, and also launching the website and blog for that ministry. I needed a season to rest and abide in the Lord (John 15:4). Surprisingly that took me into the next layer of the therapeutic process related to my ADHD. The internal work has been intense and too raw to write about publicly.

What has happened along the way though is that I have started to accept that all of the writing I am doing is the normal path of a writer. It is especially so for someone like me who wants to bring meaning to their work and make it truly authentic.

Maya Angelou quote

I’ve often heard that writing is a process. My path to publishing happened so quickly I skipped over that part. Now I have to experience the process and trust the path that other writers have walked before me.

I’ve learned the importance and significance of solitude. I’ve learned that reflection is a part of the craft.

Writers live a life of discovery and look at the inner experience of it. As such, we often need to distance ourselves from our experiences to be able to get the right perspective on it. That takes time, patience, and perseverance.

So I’ve come to accept that this season of my writing journey has been about doing the deeper inner work and trusting the process. I know it will be harder for me because of my ADHD. I’m not giving up.

For now, I’m continuing to take notice of what is going on around me and in me through the lens of ADHD. It’s a blessing, or so I’ve been told.

I know I’m worth it.

And so are you. I encourage you, my friends and readers, to take the time to invest in yourself and reflect on your experiences. You don’t have to be a writer. Any writing you do about it will lead to healing and emotional health though.

Thanks for supporting my writing and journeying along with me.  May this blog be a place of encouragement and inspiration on your journey.  May He turn your healing into hope too.

thank-you

How Does Your Story Live?

When I first met Henriet Schapelhouman, author of “The Story Lives: Leading a Missional Revolution” over a dozen years ago, she was the pastor of Adult Ministries at a local church and a fledgling writer.  She invited me to join a small group Bible study she led.  I’d never been in a Bible study, but was at a time in my life when I was unsettled with my faith and seeking Him.

Henriet anoints Ardis' book and future speaking, September 2012.

Henriet anoints Ardis’ book and future speaking, September 2012.

Over a decade later, I can still remember when Henriet shared with the group about the publication of her first article in a Christian magazine.  I was so proud of her accomplishment and remember thinking how wonderful that would be.  I never imagined I’d end up writing myself or ever being published.

Henriet has played a pivotal part in my spiritual growth and ministry since then.  She commissioned me to lead my first recovery and spiritual growth groups at that same church.  She took me to my first Christian writers meeting.  Then at my book launch last fall she anointed my book and commissioned my speaking.

Most recently Henriet and I partnered at our first ministry conference booth to promote our books and speaking engagements.  When things were slow at the booth, I was blessed by opportunities to connect on a relational level.  In those times, we were living missionally.

Living Missionally

Living missionally?  What does that mean?  Disregard those thoughts about selling your belongings, moving overseas and preaching the gospel. That is not what “The Story Lives” is about.

Henriet and Ardis living missionally at the NW Ministry Conference, March 2013.

Henriet and Ardis living missionally at the NW Ministry Conference, March 2013.

We are living missionally when we are living out the Story of Jesus in our lives. We are living missionally when we serve Him in the ways we are wired—not just our spiritual gifts, but our personality types and our strengths.  (Henriet is a certified coach and trainer for Myers-Briggs and StrengthsFinders.   Check out Semper Vita Institute for more information.)  By knowing our own unique wiring, we can determine how best to live a life that abundantly gives back and to serve in our sweet spot (or productively work in secular employment as well).

One of the key principles in “The Story Lives” that has helped me is to not be limited in my thinking of how I can serve God.  It’s not about serving him in the box of a church setting.  It’s about where God wants me to share my story and how can I influence His Kingdom.

Influencing Others for His Kingdom

I know I never would’ve considered sharing my story publically had I not shared my testimony years ago at a Celebrate Recovery meeting as a prerequisite for leadership.  I’ve shared it several times in those settings since then, but I don’t need to have that structure limit my publicly sharing my story.  My writing and blogging are now the primary ways in how I serve Him.   Another way is being open to opportunities like the short interview about “The Story Lives” done at Henriet’s book launch party.

The Story LivesThis summer, my influence and speaking are focused on Spain.  There are no Celebrate Recovery meetings in Spain.  I’m pursuing other avenues to share my story.  I don’t know what that looks like yet.  It may not even be in a structured setting.  I’m trusting God to open the doors He wants opened. I know that by just being there and living my life with the Light of Jesus that I am living missionally.

I’m grateful Henriet persevered all the obstacles and doubts that come with writing a book with such a powerful message.  We can all use a message like this as we grow in our faith and allow God to use us in the ways that He uniquely designed us.  I highly recommend “The Story Lives: Leading a Missional Revolution” as a gift to yourself.  It will ignite your desire to live out His Story in your life in a more tangible way.

Updated 01/20/2014:  Check out the book trailer below with the music of my Spanish host son and protégé, Pedro González Arbona

Writing: My First Year, Part 3 – Getting Side Tracked

One of the first emails I received after becoming a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association was a request to submit a story on healing in mother/child relationships.  Although I knew it was tailor made for my story—the reason I felt God calling me to start writing—I didn’t act on it immediately.  Writing a 10,000 word story about my healing with my mother seemed like a luxury.

I had just started blogging, was writing e-devotionals for my church, committed to help launch Celebrate Recovery at my church and took a part-time marketing job for friend and pastor, Tamara J. Buchan.  Tamara was ramping up her team to promote her new book, Identity Crisis: Reclaim the True You.

While I’ve done lots of marketing for my husband’s business over the years, I had never worked in the publishing industry.  I had a large learning curve to overcome in this position.  What appealed to me with this job was that I knew what I learned would be used someday for marketing the book I wanted to write.  I was also drawn to working with Tamara and being so closely mentored by her.

As the deadline for the story submission approached, God kept nudging me to write the story.  My biggest fear was if I wrote the story and it was published that I would never write the bigger book.  One night as I was journaling, I noticed that since my mother died and my writing started, nine months earlier, I had already written 114,000 words in my journal.  That was more than enough for a 200-page book.  That was all I needed to confirm that I have enough material for a book.

But there was one problem still remaining—I needed dedicated time to write the story in the next three weeks.  God was making it pretty clear to me that I couldn’t write this story or my book and also work for Tamara.  It was a painful decision that weighed heavy on my heart.

I loved working with Tamara.  But I realized that continuing down this path was asking God to sanctify my disobedience.  So I quit.  The irony in the situation is that the revelations I discovered about my identity directly correlated with the message in Tamara’s book.  Working for her and reading her book took my faith and trust in God to a higher level—despite the consequences.  It was a big blessing.

I booked a few days away at a camp over Thanksgiving weekend so I could devote quality time to writing the story.  Since I never wrote anything this big or submitted a story for publication, I also hired my writing teacher, Candace Wilson, to coach my writing.  Armed in prayer covering by my friends, loaded down with a huge stack of papers that I’d accumulated over the past two years and my new laptop, I dove into the story.  (See Counting Words for a summary of my writing weekend.)

On December 1, 2011, I submitted my story, “Walking My Mother Home”, to Cladach Publishing. I met my deadline.  I was relieved.  I released the outcome to God.

Have you ever gone down a road that seemed so right, only to find out later that God had other plans?  How did you respond?  Did you fight God, bargain with Him or relinquish control and trust His plans for you?

Writing: My First Year, Part 2 – First Steps

I’ve had a burning desire to be a writer ever since my mother died about 1½ years ago.  But it wasn’t until I voiced that desire in a support group meeting one year ago last week that my desire started to become more of a reality—emotionally on the inside and visibly on the outside.

Since that day, I have received one confirmation after another.  Coincidence? (more…)

  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

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    Arrival on Spanish SoilApril 29th, 2018
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