Deane's Blog

writing

Dear Rachel,

WritingDeane WattersComment

Thanks for your email.  I feel quite honored and excited to be asked by you to share a bit about my writing journey. It has been a long road and I'm a bit of a slow walker but word by word, piece by piece, I have come to where I am today. I'm delighted for the opportunity to look back at my writing life and to encourage you to move forward in yours as you head into your final year of college. As a young girl I  loved to read and to write. I looked forward to essay test questions in high school because I could write around answers easily. It was a pleasure to put the words down and see what I could come up with. Recently I found a Five Year Diary that had been given to me on my thirteenth birthday. For five years I religiously wrote a sentence or two every day about whatever seemed important at the time. I discovered how boy crazy I was since there were a whole lot of entries about guys: how cute Chuck was, how James in my class didn't ask me out, how I would love Joel forever! But it also showed me that when I was a teenager I knew the power of words. I used this compelling tool to understand my feelings, to lament over my struggles, and to pray. I really didn't critique my writing much then because it was just for me. It didn't feel like pressure because it was more of a release, a tool to strengthen and to grow me.

My family had many tensions and being the youngest of four children I found that paper and pen were my greatest friends. I journaled to discover and untangle how I felt about everything in my world. It was all very complex to me. My favorite person in the whole world was my mom and the pressures she felt influenced my view of life. The search for peace in her marriage led her to church, which then led her to a deep life of faith and prayer. I found her to be my guide and ally in every way and as I grew, I also became a woman with a deep faith, full of hope and trust in God.

As life would have it, I graduated from high school and college, traveled for a year with a Christian singing team, went off to my first teaching job, met my husband and got married. Within a few years we gave birth to our first son. I found ways to write during these years by adding to my personal journals, writing articles for women's ministry newsletters and sometimes putting together devotionals for baby or bridal showers. Homeschooling our children in the elementary years, I offered them many opportunities to write and to grow in their understanding of the effect of words. I'll have to admit that all three can pack a powerful punch with their words today, these many years later. In those years I longed to develop my own writing skills but often decided that I didn't have the time. And maybe I didn't.

After working with a counselor friend and taking some classes at Keys to Living and House of Hope, I realized that this practice of not giving myself enough time to attend to the things I really loved was a pattern of not truly caring for myself. I also didn't really know myself because I was more tuned into other people's needs rather than my own. So I began a journey of self discovery. I hired a life coach to help me determine my life purpose.  The Enneagram Personality Test told me that I am a Peacemaker. No surprise. Carefully going through the book, Strength Finder, I found more parts to this person I call me and was delighted to find bits of my true self tucked beneath the layers and years of unsureness and insecurity. I read many books, participated in many Bible studies and took classes to help me understand more.

One of the things I learned was that I needed to pay attention to the me God created and not spend so much energy wishing I was someone else with other strengths and talents. He, in his glorious plan, gave me the love of writing (among many other things) and I  could  respond with a yes that would lead me farther into knowing myself better and allow me to go deeper in my faith. I decided to offer myself time to honor him by developing this gift of writing.

So five years ago (or so) our daughter set me up with my first blog site. Finally, a place to write with a way for others to read my writing! I wrote with much joy. But a new difficulty arrived with this space... there was always an opportunity for  readers to leave comments....

To be continued...

another writer's circle

WritingDeane Watters1 Comment

2016-03-08_0001Today our Writer's Circle met for the fourth time. Eager to be together again, we talked a bit about our week, asked a few questions about the writing process and found ourselves ready to write. Closing our eyes, taking a moment to settle in, we readied ourselves. After a few moments I spoke out, "With eyes closed, imagine yourself face to face with an animal. Pick the first image that comes to mind. When you feel ready, quietly put your pen to paper and write."

Slowly, one by one, each of us picked up a pen and put it to the paper.

Using a prompt offers a unique way to get started writing. We may think we know the direction it will go, but quickly realize it's moving in a way we least expect. We keep scratching out words to discover what will happen next! This offers an element of surprise and keeps us curious as we write. Every person receives the same prompt but everyone's outcome is different.

After writing, each woman was invited, if she was comfortable, to share what she had written. All of us understood that these were rough drafts and that rough drafts are just...well...rough! But there will be time later for editing and careful working with the words to produce a finished piece. We bravely shared our words, vulnerably offering them to this safe group.

So, "face to face with an animal"...brought us to an appreciation of the uniqueness in each person's perspective. We came face to face with a variety of animals but they were not what you might think! We looked for words and phrases that gave clues. What animal was she writing about? Was there a deeper meaning? Listening for repetition, descriptions, rich words and deeper thoughts, kept us all focused and attentive. Everyone understood the fear that surrounded the sharing. But...after each reading we experienced the unexpected: an intake of breath, goosebumps, oohs and ahhs, gentle satisfied smiles and not a small amount of surprise for the listener as well as for the reader/writer.

When it was my turn, I read my piece aloud. What you see here isn't my initital rough draft. I've done quite a bit of editing since reading it out to our group.

Teen-age Angst 

Upstairs in the tiny bedroom of the rental on Second Avenue,  she curls up in her little twin bed with the worn pink bedspread. Her sleepy white puppy curls up in a ball next to her, hiding those brown freckles on his soft pink tummy. Warmth, peace and calmness find their place in this room, within this house and its perplexing traces of unrest.

Although her Mom has already driven off to work hours ago, the morning light is just beginning to show itself through the thin shade covering the small window. Already Beatles music blares from her brother's room while Sonny and Cher smile down from her faded walls. And is that toast she smells wafting up the narrow stairway?

She doesn't care. She's blissfully settled in with that tiny white buddy who is totally hers, totally loyal, totally perfect. They snuggle under warm covers, longing to linger just a few minutes more.

Here, before the day begins, she's not tense. She doesn't have to worry about not having friends. She's not too fat or too shy. She's not  mediocre here in this hidden safe place. She's not too pimply. Here she just is. The two of them together. No one is looking or thinking anything about her. Freckles' big brown puppy eyes are full only of love, acceptance and a place to belong.

Together they rest for a few moments of peace before the relentless voice-in-her-head takes over and she remembers that it is not OK to be who she is. With a deep sigh she rises, dresses, and heads out toward the hallways and classrooms of junior high.

 

I have enjoyed gathering this group of women to experience a safe place to grow as a writer. If any of you local folks are interested in joining us, contact me or House of Hope. We will be setting up another Writer's Circle very soon.

 

 

 

 

my pen reveals

Deane Watters3 Comments

Last night I completed an interesting task. Over the past week, I read through seven spiral notebooks written in from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015. I meticulously read or carefully skimmed and took notes from the past 12 months of pages written almost every morning throughout the past year.

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There is nothing grand or amazing about this assignment. It took hours to complete. My eyes got tired and my highlighter ran dry. But I was looking to find as much as I could about this past year. Not content to simply "remember," I wanted to truly find out what was important to me and how I had changed in 2015.

Morning Pages are simply a writer's way of dropping his or her angst on the page first thing every morning. I wrote them to check in, to listen, to invite dialogue, to pray. I simply got up out of bed, shuffled to the coffee pot and then to my "writing studio," opened my current notebook and started writing. My goal was purely to take note of my heart. What was I thinking or feeling each morning, fresh from a night's sleep? What, from the day before, needed to be thought through?  Could God use my pen as his voice to help me? Would I hear it?

As I read through this year's notebooks, I searched for a few specific things.

  • Was I honest with myself? Did I tackle how things really felt, rather than how I thought they should be?
  • Did my word, embrace, change over the year? Why did I choose it?
  • Were there consistent themes of angst?
  • In what ways did I talk to God about my kids using their chosen words?
  • Did I ally myself? Was I a friend; or was I a bully? Was I on my side, or not.
  • Had God spoken to me through this daily practice?
  • Were there changes in me over a year's time?

I will simply say that I have learned much.

Many websites and various ministries offer ways to "evaluate your year" but none better than this. It's like going to the horse's mouth, so to speak. I went straight to the source to hear from my own pen, how my heart was faring on a daily basis. I wanted to know how I  had responded to myself and the concerns that showed themselves on the page. I was digging to see if I lived out what I teach others about the amazing work of Morning Pages.

I came to some conclusions.

  1. I think I will always be tempted in some way toward inadequacy. Recognize my words - tempted toward - not sucked in, not taken over.
  2. I have fussed enough about writing. Get in the chair and WRITE, already!!
  3. I have prayed well for my husband and children.
  4. 2015 was the year I journeyed in prayer. Books read, sermons heard,  prayer meetings attended, and daily personal practice have taught me more than I ever intended to seek out. Prayer seemed to find me.
  5. Desperation leads to magnificent growth.
  6. God speaks when He wants to.
  7. Sometimes "depression" is part of "preparation."
  8. "Dark seasons stop me. They make me small so He can be big."
  9. I am brave and rarely back down from an opportunity to grow or to try.
  10. I am surrounded by God's favor as a shield. He knows me. He delights in me. I can rest in being His beloved. This is big. It changes everything. It stops the lurking question, "Am I lovable?" "Am I enough?" "Is what I do or write or say, significant?" Of course it is. I am held close and safe by the One who knows and loves me. How can I not move freely and confidently within that haven of protection?
  11. My favorite and most powerful ministry, the one I am best equipped for,  is one-on-one across the table with a cup of coffee and a scone in my hand. Some of the most delightful moments in my year were lived out in this way.
  12. Spiritual attacks happen when we risk for God. But when we know how the enemy custom designs his assaults, we can be prepared.
  13. I am a servant here. I am not called to shine or perform. I'm here to serve, to love and to shower grace.
  14. Joy arrives in unexpected packages. Oh yes.
  15. When God gets the first word, we get an earful.

I could go on and on. These pages are FULL of wisdom, questions, fussing, fear, lament, joy, discovery, delight and truth. God has indeed used my pen to reveal himself. Being a good friend to myself, I feel I have listened well. This end of the year review has led me to remember that I am loved, known and protected, even as I walked through some long, hard and desperate days.

This task was well worth my time and a new highlighter. I'm stepping up to another year of Morning Pages.  Are you interested in learning more about them? Let me know in a comment and I'll get back to you!