Posts Tagged ‘Emily of New Moon’

People laugh at me because I am very predictable. In many ways, at least. Every year, I make innumerable New Year’s Goals. Every month, week, sometimes by the day, I write schedules and lists. I have made menus since I was 15 or younger. I schedule out my life as much as possible. I pursue every single interest – but rarely until it is mastered because the next thing grabs my attention and I move on. Oh, yes, there are people who laugh at me. Not cruelly, but . . . accommodatingly . . . almost patronizingly. They know it is me – it is what I do. I am a Type A.  I live off schedules, I try the next fad to lose weight, I make goals, I . . . well, you get the idea. It always hurts a little bit whenever I sense that laughter in someone’s tone. The underlying, She’s at it again, when I discuss my New Year’s Goals or the multitude of checklists I’ve made in an attempt to FINALLY reach them. The amused shake of the head as I buy another notebook, another self-help book. It always hurts – just a little, strikes at some place deep down inside that I then bury so I can laugh along with them – often even cracking my own jokes at myself for trying that next thing, that next attempt to master life. All the while, wondering inside just how much of a failure I am for always, always trying, and rarely succeeding.

But. When I allow myself a moment of Grace. When I step back and look at all my frail attempts at – everything. And most especially when I read L.M. Montgomery’s Emily books, I know exactly why. It’s because of this:

I italicize the last verse because that in particular makes something in me swell up. With tears, and hope, and desperation, and ambition, and . . . understanding. Someone somewhere understands.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t actually care if I get “fame” – it’s more the writing my name with true and honored fame. And I don’t care if it’s on earth or heaven – it just means that . . . I’ve climbed that path. I reached that goal. I’ve succeeded.

At what, you might ask? Well, at life. There is so much life everywhere. It’s why I try so hard to do everything. Because I might miss out on something otherwise. Music makes my heart fill up, so I try to learn music. Stars make me remember the glory of God, so I attempt to learn constellations. Miniatures bring me sweet memories and gladness, so I finger them in passing, thinking about how someday I will collect and even make miniatures. Dolls remind me of dress-up and dreams, so I collect them. And writing. Well. Writing makes me feel like I can live a thousand lifetimes, and experience all the world, and bring someone else that thrill of joy and hope and escape, and it makes me feel like it’s the only time in my entire life I can say things the right way. And, yes, I realize there isn’t a syllable there about glorifying God – but – the thing is, I almost feel like ALL of that is glorifying God. Every piece of that joy and experience and heavenliness makes me look up and say “God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world” along with Anne of Green Gables and Robert Browning.  When I write, when I ask God to guide my pen, when I legitimately try – I feel the pleasure of God. I feel a rare peace fill my soul.

I guess I just want to do my utmost to live the life God has given me to its fullest and the only way I can see to do that is by checklists and schedules, and trying new things, and always trying – even when I don’t succeed. Even when others look on in amusement.

I’m not saying I have done things right. I’m not saying that I’m not a failure for having never succeeded at any of my hobbies. But I am saying that . . . I know why I keep trying. And that, I think someday I will succeed. That God is working with me on the staying part of trying, and someday it will happen. Even that, in some sense, I am succeeding just because I am trying. But until then, and even through then, I’m going to keep climbing the Alpine Path.

Gentiana 'Shot Silk', Gentian, blue flowers

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So, I officially got my first rejection letter this summer. As well as my first rejection “damned with faint praise”, which was made slightly less painful by my association of that with Emily of New Moon. Slightly. You can read all the magazines and books in the world “prepping” you for rejections by the hundreds, but there is still nothing like casting your eyes over those words, trying to gently tell you that your work sucks via a – well, what would have been a typewritten slip at one point and is now a generalized email.

This means I have officially reached a new status, though, right? That I have submitted to “official” enough places to actually get a rejection? Anyway. I have had more than one person tell me this story is good, so I am going to try again. . . only, I realized I am probably not trying for the right audience. I was pitching it as a literary piece, but it has definite Christian undertones (being, after all, a Christian) and, further to its condemnation in the eyes of the world right now, it ends happily. You know that everyone likes the dark pieces right now that give you shivers and make you feel kind of ugly inside and like you can never look at humans the same way again. I don’t get that trend at all. I like to feel uplifted after reading, even bittersweet if it is a sad ending. But I digress. So I realized I should be submitting it to Christian short story magazines.

Want to know something I didn’t know until this week? THERE ARE NO CHRISTIAN FICTION SHORT STORY MAGAZINES! At least, none that I can find. There are tons of Christian or spiritual blogs and magazines in general – but they all want inspirational articles of true stories, devotionals, or whatnot. Fiction? Psh. Apparently they think it is  a waste of time. So I am a little at a loss and mildly considering starting my own Christian fiction magazine.

If any of you all can help me find a place to submit my short stories, I would be quite grateful.

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Do you mind if I ramble a bit? Well, if so, go ahead and leave now, because I am going to do it anyway. In fact, I am going to intersperse my WHOLE workday with rambling on this post. Or, at least until I am tired of it or feel I have said everything on my mind and heart. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. (for those who don’t know it, when someone says everything on their heart, it is bound to be filled with nonsensical emotion.)

As I have mentioned multiple times, so I am sure everyone is sick of hearing it, I am struggling to find the inspiration I once had for my stories. I go about this the way I go about pretty much all my goals in life. I try one thing, then, after I don’t get immediate results, I try another the next week (or day, depending on how patient I am feeling). I tried buying a whiteboard (like the one Castle uses?) to plot my books. After writing an initial outline of a story, realizing I didn’t feel passionate about the story at all, and leaving it on there for weeks, I wiped it and the huge whiteboard sits empty. Then I tried forcing myself to write 15 minutes a day, no matter what. That worked for almost a week. I forced myself to sit and write for 15 minutes, hated everything my pen put out, and then, one day, I was just too busy. Can you guess how often I have done that since? I tried researching subjects I wanted to write about. I read about writing books. I started an outline for yet another story. Finally, last weekend, I picked up an old favorite book I haven’t touched in years. Emily of New Moon. As I read, I felt my soul thrilling as it hadn’t done in years. As this girl wrote about her stories, or “flashes”, the Wind Woman, I felt drawn back to my childhood, back when everything was new and exciting and I, too, thought everything I wrote was beautiful. But, most importantly, I was drawn back to when I could pick up a piece of paper and write. About anything, about a sunset, about a sunrise, about a song, anything that gave me that thrill from head to foot, I would write about. Yes, I thought, this is it! I just need to read my favorite books and remember why I love writing! And then, as I read further, suddenly the effect the book was having on me . . . reversed. Oh, I still loved reading over the old, beloved words, and feeling thrills along with Emily, but, I realized how – old I was. Back when I used to read the books, I used to be Emily’s age. Whether it was the first, second, or third book, at some point, I was still her age, with similar dreams and ambitions. Now – I am significantly older than she was in any of her books. And I have this dreadful feeling that it means it is too late for me. I know I wrote about this in an earlier post not long ago, but though my brain knows it isn’t too late, my heart hasn’t caught up yet, and I have been struggling to fight off a singularly depressed feeling.

The thing is, I have this feeling that I want to go back to my childhood and recapture the innocent dream that all I have to do is love what I do and I will succeed – and my complete lack of doubt in my ability to write and that if I just kept going, it would all turn out. But maybe that is part of the trouble. One, part of me knows I can never go back to my childhood and I need to move forward from where I am right now – but I am terribly resistant. I want to go back to the stories I was writing at 13 and still write them, instead of finding new stories. And two, I didn’t keep going. Whether I want to admit it or not, I essentially stopped writing in college for four years. Well, I was writing essays and presentations, but, that hardly counts. Which brings me to this scary thought: What if I was wrong? What if writing isn’t really my passion and I just superimposed it on myself because of all the books I read nonstop? I mean, there has to be something wrong if I can just stop writing for four years, doesn’t there? And then I got all confused. I was so sure that God designed me to write.

As far back as I can remember, all I have wanted to do when I grew up was be a writer. Heck, I remember being 8 years old and reading the beginnings of my first novel to my older sister. Wanting nothing more than to write for like 15 years has to mean something, right?

Well, I am still trying to figure it all out. But, I have decided on yet another method to get my confidence and inspiration back. This time, I AM going to go back to my childhood. I have stacks and stacks of stories or portions of stories from before I went to college. So, my newest idea is to pull out one page from those stacks at a time, and rewrite it. I have this hope that if I can just get my creative juices flowing again, I will be able to look at everything around me as a story the way I used to. Or maybe God will use it to show me what it is He wants me to do – where He wants me to go from here. Or maybe pulling out the old pages from my younger years will remind me of why I started writing in the first place and help open my brain to new paths – new stories that fit where I am emotionally now, instead of the dramatic, tragic stories I used to write.

I have this horrible fear that I have wasted too many years and now I will die before I accomplish all my dreams. And my brain knows that the longer i am paralyzed by this fear, the more time I will waste, but my heart hasn’t caught up to that yet, and I have this hopeless feeling that it doesn’t matter anymore. I know, I know – that isn’t true. But since when does that help soulfulness?

If anyone has ever gone through this type of identity crisis, I would appreciate advice or scriptures on getting through it and how to move forward instead of looking backwards.

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As is the case of with many L.M. Montgomery fans, one of my favorite quotes comes from Emily of New Moon. I had no idea, however, that it was drawn from an actual poem that L.M. Montgomery used as her own inspirational motto! The entire poem is just lovely.

The Fringed Gentian

Lift up, thy dewy fringed eyes,
Oh, little Alpine flower,
The tear that trembling on them lies
Has sympathetic power
To move my own, for I, too, dream
With thee of distant heights
Whose lofty peaks are all agleam
With rosy dazzling lights.

Who dreams of wider spheres revealed
Up higher near the sky
Within the valley’s narrow field
Cannot contented lie.
Who longs for mountain breezes rare
Is restless down below
Like me for stronger purer air
Thou pinest, too, I know.

Where aspirations, hopes, desires
Combining fondly dwell,
Where burn the never-dying flowers
Of Genius’ wondrous spell.
Such towering summits would I reach
Who climb and grope in vain,
Oh, little flower, the secret teach
The weary way make plain.

When whisper blossom in thy sleep
How I may upward climb
The Alpine path, so hard, so steep
That leads to heights sublime.
How I may reach that far-off goal
Of true and honored fame
And write upon its shining scroll
A woman’s humble name.

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