July 12, 2008

One Eye on the Rear-View Mirror

Ever find yourself driving down the road with one eye on the road and the other on the rearview mirror? Ever look back and realize you’d come much farther than you thought? Or are you like me—pedal to the metal, straight ahead, never looking back?

The road for me is endless. And though I keep my eye focused on the horizon, I don’t think I’ll ever reach my destination.

I am not an Olympic Gold Medalist Christian, Wife, Mom, Employee, Friend, Musician, Biker, Artist, Teacher, Blogger or Writer. I’m not silver or bronze, either. I’m not even a fairly good . . . any of those. Do I expect myself to be?


So, on the heels of looking for permission to be where I am for now, and seeking patience and active contentment, I am reminded of another compounding issue: how easy it is to forget how far I’ve come.

I received a very touching e-mail from my sister on Mother’s Day last year. It made me cry, which in turn made me want to beat her up. Her email told me how proud she is of me and of how far I’ve come in life in spite of my background, and proud of the kind of person I’d become. Whoa. This was coming from a person who I never thought had much use for me and who I certainly never thought had any respect for the things I was trying to accomplish in my life. We have always had different perspectives, and we didn’t exactly get off on the best foot best as sisters.

When my mom and her dad got married, she was 16, I was 17 and between us, we’d experienced far more than any trusting, emotionally needy girl ought to, ever. By then neither of us had any trust in or expectations of anyone. At all. Probably not even of our selves.

So when I read her note, I was first shocked, then worried that we needed to get her meds checked. She’s not one to give approval lightly, at ALL, so to me, her words carried weight. Not that I don’t value compliments from others . . . I just don’t believe a word of it. But as I sat there trying to focus on the blurry screen through tears (well, I couldn’t see, so maybe she really said “p-o’ed” instead of “proud”) it occurred to me that I had forgotten how far I’d come. Here I am constantly dissatisfied with my current progress as Christian, wife, mom, writer, etc, etc, but forgetting that by the grace of God there has been so much healing, growth and progress in my life up to this point that some would think it a miracle, and me ungrateful. And I guess it would be true.

God had Joshua and his people haul boulders out of the Jordan River and make a memorial, something tangible so they would never forget how God had delivered them.

How could they forget, those ungrateful dolts.

So, to my desire for patience and active contentment, I would like to add a healthy amount of memory. Not too much, but not wiped so clean that I forget where I came from.

And most of all, gratitude.

Thank you, Jesus. It’s only by your sweet grace and endless patience that I am even HERE.

July 3, 2008

Permission To Be Here . . . For Now

The other day, I had the colossal nerve to think there are a couple of lines in my current novel that aren't too shabby. This morning, I cracked open Water For Elephants. Incredible, captivating writing, spectacular voice, charming wit, depth & heart.

Wow. After an hour I put it down – I had to get ready for work. Part of me couldn't put it down; part of me couldn't read any more. It's a beautifully crafted, engrossing reminder that my writing sucks.

I nearly broke the mouse punching the close button on my always-open novel document. Then I took a deep breath and heard a little voice saying that NO ONE expects my first novel to be as good as Sara Gruen's third (?) and a NYT bestseller at that.

No one but Camille.

I like---no, love a bar set so high my nose bleeds just squinting to see it. I love an impossible challenge when it comes to writing well. Sara sets the bar high, and I like that. But somewhere in all this straining, bleeding and reaching, I guess I need to look at where I am now and give myself permission to be HERE.

For now.

Habakkuk 2:3 says:
For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day. (Amplified)

I will be patient and wait for the day my writing is at its best, but I will wait in earnest---pursuing excellence, writing, studying, honing, reading, listening, receiving instruction and correction and advice, working harder every day to reach that bar.

And I will keep reminding myself that it's okay to be here (while pinching my nostrils and pressing an ice pack to my forehead).

Just wanted to share that. Best of God's blessings to you...wherever you "are."




I've published three novels and a novella (more about those on my website.) I've been writing all my life, but decided in 2007 to get serious about being published.

I love action movies and Jane Austen. (she’s dead, I know. I found that out when I tried to get her to endorse my novel)

They let me play Bass guitar and sing in a worship band.

I can produce 4 dozen homemade cinnamon rolls in a flash for a crowd of drooling young adults. Or publishing house editors.

I used to have a Harley. Now we have twenty-something kids. Decent trade, really. The window-rattling grumble isn't quite the same, but we are still enjoying the ride.

I am a proud Grammy. Don't even think about taking candy from my babies.

I hate shopping (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a girl)

I've lived in Oregon all my life, spent time in Eugene (Go DUCKS!), Springfield, Reedsport, and Smith River. Which is not really a town, but a river, about 70 miles long, a tributary of the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon.

Although it's not a town, it is a community with a strong sense of pioneer history. It's cool to say you've lived there, especially if you lived there during the days when you had to take a boat to school. No joke! The old farmhouse my grandfather and my mother grew up in still stands, nestled into a narrow, pasture carpeted valley, complete with a swimmin' hole and its own 'crick'. It may turn up in one of my novels.

There's a rumor that my ancestors had a connection with the Mafia back in Sicily. I used to fantasize as a kid about a big black limo with tinted windows pulling up and whisking me away from school. Ahhh. So THAT'S why I'm having so much trouble conjugating my dangling participles now.

NOT RANDOM: I am challenged by the truth and amazed by the grace of God. And it's either in spite of or because of that grace that I hold a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way.