Tuesday, February 26, 2019

When the Ordinary Becomes a Burden

It's my pleasure to introduce Sondra Kraak, another of our Aspiring Tuesday contributors. She's an accomplished indie author who writes historical romance, rich with soul-stirring depth. Prepare to be convicted and inspired in your writing journey.

Sometimes I get hungry. My laundry stinks. My kids need attention (really?!). I have a job to go to, which involves spending time in my car. Dust appears around my house (how rude). My dentist tells me to floss and brush. And the more tea I drink, the more trips to the bathroom I make (inconvenient!).
Life takes time. Time away from my writing, which is more important, right? I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to clean toilets. I don’t want to . . .
Be human? Is that really what I’m thinking when I’m resenting everyday tasks?
To be human is to be embodied, to have needs and limits, to have a routine of the ordinary. When God created humans, he called them very good, and part of that very good includes a body that must be cared for.
Increasingly in our culture, we are finding ways to dis-embody ourselves, to distance ourselves from what it means to live in a physical world. Our obsession with devices means we can interact with others without being with them. We can entertain ourselves on a screen without moving a muscle. We are even designing a car that drives itself—because why should we have to do something physical if a machine can do it for us?
What does this have to do with writing? Simply this: it’s easy as writers to resent the boring, necessary things of life that seem more of a nuisance than a blessing. It’s easy to want to clear off our to-do list anything that gets in the way of our writing time.
But what if these ordinary things that seem like a burden are vital for our task as writers?
When the ordinary becomes a burden, it’s time to reorient our thinking. It’s time to rejoice that we are human and give ourselves fully to the task of being alive. 
Here are some hints for thinking holistically about life:
·     Embrace the ordinary tasks that make you who you are. Your day job. Your role as a parent. Cleaning your house. Exercising. Rejoice that you are a whole creature: body, mind, heart. The healthier you, the stronger you will write. Stewarding your body carries over to stewarding the gifts God has given you.

·     Become a life observer by being fully present in your task. If you are stirring soup, stir that soup with gratitude for the availability of resources, and the joy of eating. The next time your character is stirring soup, you will pour into that scene the authenticity of experience. Everything you do becomes research for the stories you tell.

·      Pair ordinary tasks with writerly tasks. Plot while grocery shopping. Dictate a scene while weeding. Research the nature of forgiveness while eating dinner with your spouse or friends. Ask them about their struggles to forgive and you’ll have a character journey. Don’t compartmentalize life so that writing stays in its own box.

What would you add?

Sondra Kraak, a native of Washington State, grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, Instagramming about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain but nourish the soul. Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was an ACFW Genesis semi-finalist and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women's Fiction Award. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook and join her newsletter for a free short story and information about special devotional series.

Connect with Sondra
The one room schoolhouse isn’t big enough to hold thirty-four students, let alone the egos of two teachers. He can’t afford to lose the position, and she refuses to lose her heart. Washington, 1891 Humiliated after her broken engagement, Claire Montgomery flees her comfortable life in San Francisco for a teaching position in Pine Creek, Washington, a dot of a town nestled in the rugged Cascade Mountains. She’s determined to succeed—for once in her life—only to discover, upon her arrival, that success will have to be won. Thanks to a school board error, two teachers have been hired. When scandal forces professor Barrett Clarke from his position, he returns to Pine Creek where his uncle, chairman of the school board, sets forth an irresistible offer: teach one year in return for ranchland. For this would-be rancher, nothing is more tempting than resurrecting his childhood dream, and nothing can deter him from earning that land. Except perhaps Claire Montgomery. Losing the battle for the classroom means losing the ranchland, but winning may mean losing Claire’s heart. With large doses of humor and romantic tension, this Christian historical love story offers a picture of grace, forgiveness, and finding true worth.