Serving vs. Selling

So many thoughts rummaging around in my head these days, but one that has emerged in some state of cohesiveness to ponder with you all is about marketing. And yet it also isn’t.

Let me explain. I was reading a fantastic article about marketing by author and writing coach K.M. Weiland recently. (Or, more accurately, I was listening to its podcast while I picked raspberries.) Considering I’ve been there and back again with agents and editors, having come so close Continue reading “Serving vs. Selling”

The Jonah Within

Image courtesy of Richard Hedrick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are few Bible personalities I really connect with. You know: Ruth was so good, and Esther was fearless and beautiful, and Mary was amazing. Paul is hard for me to get my head around, and the disciples, well, they were interesting and funny, but relatable? Well, maybe not so much.

But start talking about Jonah, and I’m right there with you. Somewhere amidst that moody, intense, prophet nature, I sense a personality at war with itself. He knew what was right, but he also knew himself. Maybe even doubted himself. And feared failure. And likely even feared success. Continue reading “The Jonah Within”

The Weird I Love

Last month was weird. Wild weird. Good weird. The weird I love.

Why? It was writers conference time.

Brandilyn Collins addressing conferees: "Upstairs, there be normals."
Brandilyn Collins addressing conferees: “Upstairs, there be normals.”

Ah, the time word scribblers from across the country converge to spend three tumultuous days swarming around a crazy-carpeted venue, wearing our most professional clothes and most uncomfortable shoes. When we stain our hands scribbling notes in classes, workshops, and sessions. When we buzz on four hours or less of sleep. When we shakily tell agents and editors about the manuscripts we’ve poured blood, sweat, and years into. When we overtake a hotel and consider everyone with a name tag a kindred spirit, regardless of whether they write suspense or romance. Continue reading “The Weird I Love”

Embracing the Struggle

You know when you hear a morsel of truth and all you can do is slap the nearest desk and say, “Yes! YES!”?

That recently happened to me when I ran across this quote by Madeleine L’Engle:

“Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God and not in God himself.”

file1701347712205 - CopyIs it just me or does that quote make you also think of Jacob and how he wrestled with God (Genesis 32: 24-28)? The story has always intrigued me, probably because I’ve struggled with God for as long as I can remember. In this path of faith, I do my best to follow, but it’s hard, it doesn’t always make sense, and I crave more answers than I’m given. While I know there’s no other way, it’s still an uphill climb. But I know I walk closer to God because of it.

Continue reading “Embracing the Struggle”

Rest: Five Things I Learned on Sabbatical

I feel as if I need to reintroduce myself now that I’m back from sabbatical. I hope I’ve changed since being away, and I know The Empty Inkwell will look a little different from now on too. Check out my last post or the About page for more information about changes.

Without further ado, let’s get into it:


Rest-Five-Things-I (1)The day—okay, days—I found myself fighting tears as I sat down to write, I knew something wasn’t working. I had pushed myself to burnout. I’d ignored the symptoms for a long time, telling myself I didn’t have the luxury of a break. I was involved in several ongoing projects, finishing a course, and restarting a manuscript. Also, I’d just faced a Continue reading “Rest: Five Things I Learned on Sabbatical”

Hard Decisions

ID-100159663Today, I declined an offer I’ve always dreamed of accepting.

Two months ago, when I received the email with the writing-related offer, I was flattered and excited, but for various reasons, it was not possible for me to immediately accept. There was a difficult decision before me. It was as if I’d been walking along the writer’s path, my head down in determination, when I was suddenly startled to find an intersection leading in two very opposite directions. From where I stood with obstructed visibility, either choice was Continue reading “Hard Decisions”

When the Words Won’t Come

ID-10020098One of my favorite quotes from Einstein was the speech he gave at a college banquet: “I have nothing to say.”

All too often, writers are expected to have much to communicate. To be able to churn out something epic on demand. But all too often, the words aren’t there, often when we need them the most.

Creativity is a natural resource, but it is not inexhaustible. Like a flame, it needs fuel or else it will burn out.

When writers are turning out more than they are putting in, burnout is inevitable. And yet, paradoxically, we can keep Continue reading “When the Words Won’t Come”

One Part Calling, Another Part Compulsion

Not long ago, someone asked why I chose to pursue writing. Responses for how, when, and where came to mind, but why was more elusive. After a moment’s consideration, the only way I could describe it was: “It was one part calling, another part compulsion.”

Eric Liddell, portrayed in the film Chariots of Fire, said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” Now, I’m no runner, but fortunately, this principle applies to everyone. I know that when I write, I feel His pleasure. Some days behind the desk can be brutal but never worse than the days spent away, fighting this compulsion-calling. Continue reading “One Part Calling, Another Part Compulsion”

New Beginnings

ID-100254453It’s spring. Finally. Branches bear the tint of new life. The robins are in full force. Easter has been, bringing with it the reminder of that one Life that has made everything new.

It was such a long winter. More than once during those bitter months I wondered if the season would ever end. In many ways, winter personifies the writer’s struggle. Isolating. Bleak. Endless. No fruit, only icy gusts of rejection—or worse: silence.

As harsh as winters can be, without dormancy, there would be no spring. Writers’ winters may in some ways drain our tired souls when we feel there’s nothing left to tap, but at the Continue reading “New Beginnings”

To Outline, Wing It, or Both?

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s said there are two types of writers: those who work methodically off an outline and those who write by the seat of their pants, guiding their characters into the unknown with pen, paper, and intuition their only provisions. Another type that is commonly overlooked is the hybrid. In a world of logical classification, they are the platypuses.  They clutch notes about their story arc and confess in whispers how they don’t know what the next scene will be.

All three methods have merit. And difficulties. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Continue reading “To Outline, Wing It, or Both?”