Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Tonight in bed I had three piles of books in front of me. How to write mysteries. How to write memoirs. How to write your mother because you certainly don't call her enough.

You get the picture.

I'm about ready to go into a full blown hissy fit trying to figure out how to write. Finally, I get so sick of the thought of telling stories I just shut down.

Shutting down is a good thing.

In the stillness that comes after I've exhausted all my energies and am still none the wiser about what to do, or write, Jesus shows up.

He lets me know that He is the beginning of my story. He my epiphany, and my good ending. He is the prequel and the sequel, the commentary, and the notes. He is the bonus features, the joy of writing once again, the new thing, my acceptance, and my big fat royalty check.

He is the soft light on my face easing me back into consciousness when I've fallen asleep propped up on pillows with the ibook on my chest. He is the whispered, "stop now," when memory threatens to swallow me up like Jonah's big fish. He is that something in the dark that makes me feel less afraid.

There is no story without the Word. There are no psalms or songs or prophecies that he is not in. I string together letters like beads, but it is He that is the design.

I guess that means I already know something that the Writers Digest series can't teach me. Or rather, I know Someone who loves me beyond my ability to tell a tale.

I love Him for that. I love that I am His story, and He is mine, and for Him that's enough! And that's enough for me.

At least it's enough for tonight, and that's all I've got.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More on Dirty Stories

Last post I talked about stories like coals--dark stories that leave soot and ashes on my hands. I think you get the picture. I'm not thrilled about telling these stories, not so much because they shouldn't be told, or that they'd hurt someone else in the telling. No, I'm way too self-absorbed to think about others when I write. I don't want to live them again, one in particular.

I've told it before. It was my very first blog entry here. I called it, I Loved a Boy, and out of everything that I wrote, it is what readers told me that they remembered most. By far my dirtiest story, it's about my first love and the moment that I gave myself--against God's prodding--to him completely. I didn't know that in brief encounter--and it was brief, beloved--that the axis to my life would shift, and that I would never be the same. Of all the moments that make up this ragamuffin diva's life, it was one of the most formative, for better or for worse.

I can't really write a ragamuffin diva memoir without mentioning when the world changed and my sexuality was irreparably damaged now could I? (This would be a very good time for you to say, "Sure you can! Don't worry about it. We won't miss it.) I know I'm reaching. I know I have to tell it, but I how I hate to.

Tonight I sat in bed reading books about writing spiritual memoirs. These terrible, demanding books are chock full of examples, all of which drive me to believe that telling my I Loved a Boy story is about as important as flossing my teeth. If I don't do it, it will be to my own peril.

I hate that.

So, I'm reading, and being driven and tormented, and each story somehow propels me back to that room in the empty house. I'm sitting on the dusty bare mattress on the floor. My life is about to be altered forever, and I feel--more than twenty years later as I read--all the hope, and fear and longing that I did that July day. And it feels like I will die if I don't make it stop. The seventeen year old me, and the forty-one year-old me fight it out until both of us--while I thrash about in my bed--cry out, "Oh, God. Don't make me do it." Write the story, that is, and not the terrible pun "do it," when I'm talking about losing my virginity. See what thinking about all this reduces me to? Really bad puns.

Not long ago NavPress sent me a copy of the cover of my book, Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man. I sent this out to so many people. I felt awfully proud, seeing my baby right there, and my it's a beautiful cover. I made the mistake of sending it to Joe. The residual affect of my once loving him when I was young and love was a bright green shoot, ripe with the possibility of flowering, and of having an emotional affair with him many, many years later, is that I still have moments when I crave him. Seeing my cover was one of those moments. I wanted him to see it. I wanted to think, somewhere in this world is Joe, and he is proud of me, even if we can never, ever be together. In fact, I'd cut off all communication with him with the express intent of not experiencing such moments for the rest of my life.

I sent this e-mail with butterflies in my stomach. I wondered if he'd reply. I should tell you that I am completely retarded when it comes to him. I take huge, developmental leaps backward, and feelings pour out of me like I'm a sieve. I hate feeling this way. I hate how out of control it makes me feel. Some days, if I didn't think it would damn me straight to hell with a handle on my rear end, I am tempted to hate Joe. But it probably wouldn't work, and hating him would mean I'm still thinking about him, carrying him close.

He replied. I hate that he replied, and there I went, feelings pouring out of my finger tips, being electronically transmitted as soon as I hit the send button. Oh, they weren't anything big. Just a little something that was my way of saying, even if I never see you again, you will always be a part of me. And then I felt foolish and juvenile, acting like the teenaged girl that any contact him reduces me to. Hey, if there's anyone out there that would be so kind... please remind me that I must never tell Joe that he will always be a part of me. Please. Help a sistah out.

Oh, God. Don't make me do it.

Why do we tell our stories? Why did so many women tell me they cried when they read I Loved a Boy? Why did some of you say that you read it to your youth group, or gave it to your daughter, or printed it out, and read it, and kept in under your bed, hardpressed to let it go? Why did some of you quote it back to me, when I got discouraged? Why do we share our blood, so much sometimes, that readers walk away looking like Carrie at the prom. My friend Mary told me that's how she felt after reading my blog. It is by far, the funniest thing anyone has ever said to me about my work.

I have thought so many times that I was healed of this peculiar infirmity called first love, but it remains a labyrinth in my soul, and I experience this painful revelation--not again, Mair--when I least expect it. I walk all of these paths, trying to find my center where love is perfect, and Godly, without obsession and not stained by sin. I'm still bumping into walls, moving in directions that look promising, but end up backing me up against a wall.

Oh, God. Don't make me do it.

Don't you hate when God doesn't do what you want Him, too?

Maybe I will tell this story, once again--and in far more detail. Fear not. It won't be lurid. And maybe it will help me find that elusive center of my soul. Maybe it will help someone else find their own circle of perfection at the end of the journey, or at the very least, find the courage to realize that they are in the maze, and to souldier on knowing that there is indeed and center, and it will be a shining, beautiful place.

But this will cost me. Our best stories always cost, and tonight, I don't feel like I have enough funds to pay. So, again, I ask for your prayers. Ask Jesus to help me remember that I'm always safe with Him, even when there are walls to slam into, and blood, and dark stories soiling my hands before I make it to the light.


Thanks for listening,

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Stories Like Coals

"I say to you He is here. He is kissing me right now."

Ha! That's a great ending to my story. It was hard to come back after that. But after the e-mail, worried phone calls, begging and threats, I have returned. I wonder now what took me so long.

Most of the time telling my story is easy. I tend to talk to much, and not listen enough. Like Bono, I like the sound of my own voice, or rather, of my own story. I've told it to virtual strangers. I've told it to friends. I told it to a group of women at Dr. Gail Hayes's first annual Bonefire Conference--with fear and trembling, and Marilynn--one of my dearest friends--sitting right behind me. She cried at all the right places, and held me up in the Spirit as I wavered. I will always be indebted to her for that. My sister Carlean was there, too--a powerful writer in her own right. She too, with Spirit arms, lifted me.

I've been trying to sell the ragamuffin diva book for several months. I've even got three very interested publishers, but when it's time to revise the proposal, I just don't do it. See, there's this thing about telling stories, especially personal ones. Sometimes you lose your stories. You drop them in dark corners you almost never go in. You leave them in the refrigerator--and didn't even know you'd put them there. They fall in the grass in the front yard, and you can't find the glint of them shining with the sun's reflection, even with your glasses on. You hide the darker stories on purpose. You don't wish to think about them. Ever again.

The ragamuffin diva stories are dark stories. I've lived through them, but they've me cost a lot. I don't like to revisit them. They are like blocks of coal. Sometimes I throw them and hope they never boomerang back to me. Sometimes I gather them in my arms--soot colored stories that leave their blackened dust all over my clothes and darken my hands. No, I don't like those stories. When I can hardly stand them, I scatter them. Hide them until the time comes that I can bear them. In those times, they become the charcoal that I place my prayers, like incense, on. I set the flame to them, and they go to God. He likes my stories. They are safe with Him.

But, I still can't write that proposal.

Maybe, I should set the flame to all those coals. Light a fire. Make them useful. I don't know. I only know that sometimes I can come here and write again, and again. Other times, I can't come to write at all. If you don't see me, pray for me, and know that I'll never go away for too long.

Looking like Cinderella, in the cinders, not at the ball,