Although we are spiritual beings, we are also sensory creatures, taking in details of the world through our eyes, our ears, our noses, tongues and fingertips. So, at a recent spiritual writing workshop, we took two objects used in the Bible in symbolic ways and explored them in sensory ways. These objects were water and rocks.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12: 6-8)
I have been teaching monthly spiritual writing classes, where people can work on identifying the specific gifts that God has given them and where we can support one another in the journey. What’s amazing about these classes is that people who don’t necessarily identify themselves as writers find meaning in what we do. The biggest challenge, really, is defining what – for the purposes of our classes, anyhow – spiritual writing really is.
I’ve found three ways to explain it that seem to help. Hopefully, they’ll help you, too!
I’ll be leading a series of spiritual writing workshops, free and open to the community. The workshops will be held at Heritage Presbyterian Church (intersection of Route 58 and 2 in Amherst, Ohio) on the second Monday of each month from September 2014-May 2015 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Each month, please bring paper and a pen, along with one to two cans or boxes of non-perishable foods for distribution through Heritage’s food ministry program. Dates of the seminar are:
If you have any questions, you can leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 440-670-6624. I hope to turn the materials I’m creating for this class into an ebook.
I got the nicest compliment from Eva about my submission, which made me smile: I think you’ve just created the ultimate essay on pink, Kelly. So dramatic and filled with excellent visual cues. I’m never going to think of pink the same way again—fresh and thoughtful prose.
Here’s my freewriting:
I am strawberry sherbet pink, the color of the carpet Grandma chose after Grandpa died and she could finally throw out all of the dingy grays, grimy browns and muddy greens.
I am the tinge in a young woman’s cheeks when she realizes that, yes, he really does care about her, after all. I am the color that is more modest than fire engine red, more even-tempered than Scarlett O’Hara – and yet I am more audacious than hushed Melanie, and too vibrant for funerals or Amish gatherings.
I am the hue of confidence but not of arrogance. I am the tint of healthy self-esteem but not of raging ego. I am the color of joy, but not mania. I am the shade of restraint but not limitation. I am the color of life well-chosen after years of ping-ponging between dusky shame and blood congealing into scabs.
I am the eau de fearlessness but not of recklessness. I am the color of pride but not a shade that condemns others or compares our songs. I am pink. Strawberry sherbet pink swirled with just a touch of cream, rich cream, luscious cream.
I am the healthy color of a baby’s bottom after a warm bath, the color of a mother’s nipples after breastfeeding. I am pink. I say it decisively – I am pink – without any need to shout over your colors.
I am pink. Strawberry sherbet pink. Lovely, illuminating, life-affirming pink. Praise God, praise God, praise God. I am finally truly pink.
If you were doing this exercise, what would you write?
Last week, my friend Janet of JanetGivens.com fame asked me if I’d play in a writerly game of tag — and I said sure. I just needed to answer three questions and then tag one or more someones to continue the game. Here goes!
What am I working on?
Well, let’s see . . . I’m working on a book manuscript that contains Christian devotionals for writers. I’m far enough along that I’ve contacted an agent who handles this type of book and am waiting to hear back. If not – or if the answer is “no” – then I’m going to contact another agent, while continuing to work on the manuscript. I have ideas for several more Christian books, so it’s important that I get the right agent.
I’m also working on a handful of articles, one about writer’s conferences, another about ostomy care, and another one a devotional. I’m also researching a local history topic for a book I’ll write for my library.
When I was a child, I’d spend a week of the summer at my grandparents. Early to bed, there, on a green-and-gold, foldout sofa in the living room; early to rise, with juice and toast, crumbs wiped up as soon as I’d finished–and a lukewarm bath in a scant few inches of water. Waste not, want not, my grandmother would say, spreading out damp paper towels by the sink to dry.
They lived in an apartment in Akron, Ohio, and there was an outdoor pool in their complex. We’d swim in the chemically blue water, pinning a tag on my suit that identified me as the guest of a resident, but we’d never broach the deep end of the pool. My grandmother swam daily, but a near drowning incident in her teens left her fearful of my swimming in water over my head.
They’d take me to a movie and out to a restaurant where I twirled spaghetti on a fork and learned to love ginger ale. My grandfather, who walked regularly, took me along–but that’s when the trouble began.
Writer’s block: Whether you believe in writer’s block or not, we all have times when our creativity flows more easily — and times when it doesn’t. This post shares solutions to brainstorming creative ideas from multiple professionals in the field.
Writing mentors: Several writers chime in on the topic of what makes a good writing mentor – an invaluable relationship once you find the right person — and share their own stories.
Accepting writing critiques: Find out how to choose the right critique partner(s) and how to avoid becoming defensive so that you can get the most out of quality writing critiques.
Offering writing critiques: Discover tips to help you provide more helpful critiques to other writers, including knowing when to push and when to back off.
Managing the writer’s ego: If there were a set of deadly sins for writers, over-confidence would surely be on the list. Here is a plan to prevent ego from hurting your writing career.
Courage to write: Here, I interview Ralph Keyes, author of The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear. He provides tips on how to use fear to create your best writing, rather than writing around the fear.
What topics would you like to have covered? Let me know!
Even though most of us, thankfully, won’t ever need to confess to crapping the bed, we will all have moments when human dignity seems a distant memory.
If we’re writers, we’re going to be tempted to write about those moments – and even put our stories where other people can read what we’ve written. That can be risky, even borderline masochistic. My grandmother, for example, once told me that “ladies’ names and ladies’ faces are never seen in public places.” And yet, here I am, ready to write about . . . well, you know.
And, when I imagine my younger son reading this, I see a deadpan expression and hear these words: “Oh, Mother . . . you didn’t. Please tell me you didn’t.”
Over the past 14 months, I’ve had four colon surgeries, three of them extensive, plus five colon stretchings. In a stretching, a colonoscopy-like outpatient procedure, “balloons” of increasing diameter are inserted into the colon, theoretically stretching its capacity and fighting against collapse.
Even though I’ve clearly fallen down on blogging on this site, I have been blogging regularly on writing topics. Here’s what I’ve written recently for The Search Guru:
- Interview of K.D. Sullivan: K.D. is a well published writer and CEO of Untreed Reads Publishing. Find out what K.D. has to say about proofreading and more, including the importance of style sheets.
- Proofreading tips: Here, I interviewed numerous professionals to find out how they proofread – and I also share stories of embarrassing misses and near misses, including one of my own.
- How to show empathy in writing: For Valentine’s Day, I blogged about the effect of true empathy and how to cultivate the trait for more effective writing (and overall living, for that matter!).
- Finding expert sources: Newer writers often find themselves in a Catch-22 situation when they attempt to get experts to bolster up the authority of their writing. Here are practical solutions to the dilemma.
- Power of storytelling: Storytelling skills are important to develop. Here’s why. People like to connect with other people – and storytelling is a perfect vehicle to create connections.
- Jargon in quality content: Here is a defense – kind of, sort of – of the use of jargon in quality content, at least in certain situations.
- Breaking through online noise: There is so much content online nowadays, with each piece shrieking for our attention. How do we smash through that noise and what is the proper role of controversy in content?
- Year of the audience: “Content is king.” That phrase appears all over online – and is great for writers to hear. It boosts our egos. But, I predict that 2014 will really be the year of the audience. Find out why.
- Trusted sources: It’s hard enough sometimes to find sources for journalistic pieces of writing, and it can be harder still to decide which ones are the most reliable. Here is my take on the situation.
- Targeted content through personas: “Personas” is one of today’s common buzzwords. What is the value in creating personas? What is the process? Find out more.
Here, I wrote a guest blog post about finding the best writing assignments in the Searching for the Happiness blog. In the post, I share five important characteristics found in many successful writers, along with places to find quality assignments.
And, finally, at the Freelance Writers Academy, I write about ways in which newer writers can get assignments from magazine editors.
What topics would you like to see covered? Let me know!
- Wildly creative, while following the precise rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation
- Assertive with editors, while sticking to their exact guidelines
And you must be willing to:
- Keep an editor up to date with your progress, without bothering her
- Work hard on a project, with no guarantee of another assignment
For seven years, I worked as a freelance writer, toiling under that unspoken job description, and it was tough treading those invisible boundaries with editors. Then, from 1997-2001, I worked as the managing editor of a magazine in Ohio. Those years were extremely rewarding and enlightening, and they gave me a chance to see the unique challenges inherent in the other side of the publishing equation.