on writing: a timely q&a

My interwebz friend Erin tagged me earlier today and I was all whatisshedoingoverthere? So neveryoumind where I was when I read the post (I have a two year old - so I have to be stealthy), the point is I squeezed in a quick perusal of her questions and answers and I'm excited to do my own little q&a over here, then tag a few friends! Tag. Tag, tag, tag. Because I hated playing the actual game as a kid, internet tagging makes me happy. Erin and I have been connecting on some [excitinghardrealinteresting] things lately and I've been pondering the loveliness that is making friends online. Introverts unite! My answers may not be as thought-full as hers and others, because lawdymercy who knows how long nap time will be today and I have to keep it moving!  On Writing: Q & A with Sarah Sandel || sarahsandel.com

What are you writing or working on now?

So, I write this blog. Obvs. And I have this other REALLY BIG THING that I'm working on. I haven't talked about it here yet, because talking about it publicly makes me have to do it, but I did tweet about it, which is pretty public, so here it is:

I'm writing a book. 

I KNOW. The mind reels.

I'm writing a book at the encouragement of SO many friends and family who seem to think that what I've said and have to say could be a vast encouragement to others and I believe them, because they love me and are also not impressed with me. I'm using my contentment series from last fall as a starting point for this project, which will be a sort of memoir slash field guide on cultivating satisfaction in Jesus Christ. It's timely because I am always having to learn again and again that Jesus is enough for ALL the things. And the ways He's taught me that and is teaching me that range from the terrible and profound (infertility and miscarriages and depression) to the simple and quotidian (comparison and jealousy and longing). I'm daunted by the task of compiling lessons learned and studying the Scriptures for my own heart in these days. But I also totally believe it's an act of obedience to write my story. Because I've decided that "to obey is better than sacrifice". If my obedience works life and light in the life of even one person, then it was right and good to obey. And if my obedience is quiet and doesn't work anything tangible in the lives of others, but works a great deal in my own life, then it was right and good to obey. 

I'm not sure when it'll be ready. The book, that is. I've got some friends in my corner, helping me get quiet time to write (read: people willing to take the beastie girl off my hands for a few hours each week!) and I've got a husband who pushes me and challenges my perfectionist tendencies. Which is to say, that man exhorts me to discipline myself to write, even when I don't want to. It's nice. And annoying. But mostly nice. And I've got friends and family standing by to read my words and be my little tribe of encouragers, helping me see through to what God would have me say. I'm excited and fearful and eager. I think I would like to say "this fantastic debut of Sarah Sandel's will be coming to you for the new year!" - but heavens, I just cannot commit. Let's get a few good writing days in this next month and see where it goes.

If you haven't subscribed to my sporadic newsletter, do that over there-ish ----> (That way you can be among the first to hear news about the book as it comes available or gets close or HOWEVER THIS WORKS, I'M NOT COMPLETELY SURE.)

How does your work differ from other writers of your genre?

Oh, I'm not so sure it does. Or has to, really. I write to obey, to think aloud, to process what God is doing -- like many do. I attempt to be genuine in all I say, with the hopes that my transparency can be used of God to encourage someone else. 

Why do you write what you do?

Because I feel so, so, so strongly that knowing Christ and His life in me is the difference between a daily fight against myself and living in a scandalous freedom because of His Spirit indwelling me. I have seen the compelling difference in my own life and in my husband from the days when we believed we had to "try hard" to not sin against one another, to live up to the moral standards in Scripture, to take captive our thoughts, to choose love and generosity and mutual submission...to the days we decided to believe that Christ in us is truly our only hope of glory and it is HIS life alone that can accomplish those things. I cannot possibly live the Christian life. I just cannot. And I believe God's designed life in such a way that trying to make it work apart from submission to Him is an act of futility.  So I write about His work in me, His life indwelling me, the see-through power of Christ and the way He does the works I cannot do because I believe others need the rest and the liberty that comes from knowing Jesus Christ.

If our lives are His, joined to His Spirit, then the things that come against our pursuit of holiness and faithfulness to His Word are coming against His life in us. 

Here we sit, thinking that it is up to us to do it. Well, God gave me a brain! we say, as if salvation was all there is to this walk and once we are awakened to new life, we’re on our own. Forgive me for sounding juvenile, but can I just say, AS IF!? We are not on our own to battle discord and discontent! And, contrary to popular opinion, Jesus is not indwelling you to “help you” battle it. Jesus indwells you to do battle for you. So I write to bear witness to what Paul says in Scripture: "I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." [Gal 2:19-20]

What does the writing process look like for you?

I sit down at the computer and read everything on Buzzfeed and Mental Floss and then wonder where the time went, mostly. Don't judge me.

Not really. But there are days when I sit down and open up the blank screen and can type furiously away for several hours, narrowly eeking out the final product before the beastie awakes and demands to be noticed with adorable squawks and shouts and "MOMMY! BUZZ! WOODY!" And there are days when I sit down and procrastinate and hate myself after. And there are the rare, delicious mornings where I have a sitter and can sit quietly in the room with a cup of coffee and my Bible and the things I am learning and wrestling through come pouring out onto the screen and sometimes, I am surprised to discover what I really think about something, not having known my own thoughts until I started writing. (I think someone much cleverer than I said something like that first.)

Writing for real is proving to be really hard for me, as a mom. My preferred writing time includes total silence and, even better, an empty house. But that doesn't happen terribly often. So I'm having to readjust my expectations or take the few & far between days where beastie girl is at a sitter's to do the hard work on my book. It's one of many expectations and preferences I am having to re-evaluate and lay down, in exchange for the terrifying joy of mothering. There's really no comparison, of course, though at times I wish for more quiet, so I can really work things out. But God is teaching me again here that "to obey is better than sacrifice" and so much of obedience is loving and playing with and disciplining and rejoicing in this wild, fierce, emotional little woman He's given us to raise.


There is it! My a's to the q's. Tag, you're it: Kelly, Kate, and Alesha!