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Saturday, December 09, 2006


My son Zane does not follow certain rules well. I know all too well he comes by it naturally. His mama doesn't like a lot of rules either.

At the dining room table yesterday (our school room), he was working on some grammar worksheets. He would not read the instructions. He'd glance over the worksheet and read the questions and go at it. Ok. No big deal, he got them all right. Then he started on some reading comprehension and deduction worksheets. He glanced over the story and started answering questions and got them wrong.

I asked him if he read the instructions. He was honest, said he didn't. The teacher in me explained that the directions are important, those are how we know what to do. If the directions tell us to circle something and we cross it out, it might not be a big deal on a worksheet like this, but what would happen if we were cooking and the recipe told us to add sugar and we added salt?

He seemed to understand that, so I added: "I understand you don't want to follow all the rules, there are times you can be creative like when you're drawing or painting or writing a story, but there are even rules to creativity."

"When mommy writes a story, she can make up any story she wants, but when she writes it down she must spell the words right, make correct sentences, use the correct punctuation, all sorts of things. It cannot be sloppy, but the story, it is whatever story God puts in mommy's brain."

He said, "OH! So you mean that if you spell bad and are sloppy you won't get a book like this?"

The book he held up was my copy of Self-Editing For Fiction Writer's.

That's right son.

Then it hit me. I can write down whatever story God puts in my little brain. I can follow His directions or I can follow man's. It is my choice. I can do research and write a story for a particular publisher, following all of their rules, or I can write a story following God's rules.

That's where my natural rebellion lies. Typically dormant, sometimes I don't even know it's still there. But tell me to do something like write for a publisher that expects (add in your list) and I'm like a caged animal, pacing and growling. I'm ok with God's rules, though, most of the time. I guess the difference is that I know God has my best interest in mind and I'm safe and comfortable with Him being in charge. I am not comfortable with another human being in charge of my writing.

While there's no big epiphany here, no big lesson, I understand my rebellion a bit more as I watch my son's grow and become more like me.

I have no desire to write what the market demands or to write for the readers. My only desire is to write for Christ. So for me that means continuing on with my ghost story about three generations of bastard sons even though some influential people have told me it's a bad idea. I imagine some of those Hebrews marching around Jericho thought God had a bad idea there, eh?

My thoughts grew hot within me and began to burn, igniting a fire of words
Psalm 39:3

Michelle Pendergrass is a coffee-lover who lives in Knox, Indiana where she homeschools her son, Zane. She blogs at Just A Minute. When you visit, please note that her son is most definitely weaned and has been for some time now. Some names just stick.

©2006 Michelle L. Pendergrass - All Rights Reserved


Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Michelle. And I like the verse you posted to go with it.

Gina said...

Good stuff! My first God driven novel was Juvenile Biblical fiction which there is NO market for. Though it's the one book I actually felt the Holy Spirit help me write.

I believe all my other ideas are God inspired because I know in the natural I have no creativity :)

But I also think that God can give you an idea that can be tweaked to fit the selling market. That's the analogy you used about cooking and using the right ingredients, and that's what I'm learning in this season of my writing life.

I have God given ideas, but if I don't learn and use all the writing rules, my words will never see past my computer to reach those who God wants to reach through me. It's a hard lesson to do it the way it's supposed to be done, but I'm learning and God is patient!

Jenny said...

And, to tag team on Gina's post, sometimes God will lead you to a particular writing/craft-type book or a particular publisher and work through them as well. I figure it is His plan, His story, His idea and He can develop it His way. Sometimes that means I write for Him alone. Sometimes that means I write so He can speak to only a small handful of people. And sometimes He plans for a bigger audience.
The problem is, I understand this in my head but sometimes my heart just needs to hear "Hang in there, Beloved. I have plans for you. Trust Me. You're doing what I asked." Sometimes, like today.

Abundant blessings,
Jenny Cary

Nicole said...

Boy, do I ever understand, Michelle. "The traditions of men" drive me over the edge. Why can't a creative work (and I'm talking written well--not sloppy, not ignorant)go outside the box of "rules" and be different? You hear all these representatives moaning about Christian fiction, but none of them want something to exceed their subjective rules.
Forgive me, the enemy is hitting back today. Must be a blue Monday. Don't have them very often, but . . .

Heather said...

My difficulty is the whole discernment thing. Which rules are catering to mass demand and which rules prod toward excellence? When is God using that person to teach me, and when should I ignore what to say?

Anonymous said...

Gina and Jenny--I totally agree God will give us ideas and lead us to people, no doubt in my mind. I'm laughing because without the chapters it means nothing. In other words I need to get typing!

Nicole--that's why we get along. I love change and I can't stand to be in a box.

Heather--God has taught me discernment through so many little life circumstances. Sometimes I'm wrong and let me tell you, He lets me know in a big, God way when I'm wrong. I feel mostly like Peter. I'm compulsive like that. "You want me on the water? Ok, command me." and I go. Then I realized where I'm at. LOL