I am Meg Moseley. Meg, a writer. Seeking the real God in the real world.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The airplane in my garage

A man down the street from me seems to be building a small plane in his garage, or maybe he's refurbishing an old one. I can't tell from a quick drive-by. It's just the skeleton of a fuselage. No skin, no wings. I catch a glimpse of it every couple of weeks when the garage door is open. Once in a while, it's outside on the driveway. It never looks like much has changed, but I suppose he's making progress and learning a lot about plane-building.

I've never actually seen him working on it, though. Maybe it's not a man. Maybe it's a woman or a couple of bored kids. (Have you read Bored, Nothing To Do by Peter Spiers? Great picture book about a homemade airplane. But I digress.)

My neighbor must field a lot of questions. "Why are you building an airplane? How long have you been working on that thing? You really think it's gonna fly one day?" Some of his friends and neighbors probably laugh at him, but I won't because it hits a little too close to home. I'm building my own flying machine. Not in my garage, but at my computer.

My friends and family ask me about my writing, often. Most of them ask encouraging questions. Some are more skeptical: "How long have you been working on that thing? You really think you'll sell a book someday?" Yes, I do. I've had some successes (see my earlier posts about the ACFW conference if you want details) and I've learned a lot about book-building.

I've also learned to ask "why" of myself. Why am I writing this particular book? Why am I the one who should write it? Why am I writing at all? Why fiction? Can't I do something more practical than telling stories? Can't I at least bury worthwhile sermons in them?

Well, no. Sorry. Because God gives me stories, not sermons. It's kind of like the Olympic runner Eric Liddell, who felt God's pleasure when he ran. I feel God's pleasure when I write stories. I love to write them, love to read them.

Why is my neighbor building a plane? I bet it's because he loves to fly. When he gets his flying machine in the air one day and buzzes the neighborhood, I'll wave and cheer for God-given dreams and perseverance. Then I'll go back to the airplane God gave me. One day, it'll fly.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Dark Star Shining

You never know who you'll meet when you walk into a bookstore. A few months ago, I walked into a local Lifeway store and was accosted by a friendly-looking guy behind a table stacked with books. His name was Creston Mapes, and he was there to promote his first novel, Dark Star, published by Multnomah.

Creston happens to live just down the road from me. Literally. Can't be more than five minutes away. And we have some mutual friends. (Hi, David and Michelle!) So the connections made it even more fun to meet Creston and buy his book.

Dark Star takes a look into the crazy world of a rock star accused of murdering his personal psychic. Don't get scared, now. Yucky subjects are handled tastefully, but the book does explore the issues that can accompany success in secular rock 'n roll. It also explores the grace of God that drugged-out, bedevilled Everett needs if he's to escape the hell he created for himself. It's a good, fast-paced story that will keep you reading.

Chris Well, author of Forgiving Solomon Long (another good, realistic story written from a Christian perspective) and a contributing editor to CCM Magazine, is doing a three-part interview of Creston. You can read it here:

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

How DID the good Lord???

Have you ever heard of Rien Poortvliet, an artist from the Netherlands? His "Noah's Ark" is a huge, coffee-table type book that holds his sketches and paintings, complete with imaginings about what it must have been like to build, load, and board the ark--and then to wait. His artwork is beautiful, but to me, his musings (in graceful, casual calligraphy) are even better because they show such appreciation for God's creativity.

But life gets so busy, and the book sits on the table and gathers dust. Months go by. I read everything under the sun except Poortvliet's book, and then one night it seems to call my name and I pick it up. I open to a picture of a few birds, an elephant, and a detail of elephant's skin that looks rather like a rough fingerprint--and at the top of the page, Poortvliet's exuberant comment: "How did the good Lord come up with all this!!!!"

A few pages later, this: "An ordinary pheasant, an ordinary sleeping dog. What a pity they do not amaze us. They are so marvelously fashioned."

Then his closing comment: "From the beginning I was aiming at a heartfelt hymn of praise. Honor to whom honor is due! And why should I try to find other words for this than those of Psalm 104?" The book ends with the complete text of the Psalm.

Some libraries carry this book--that's where I first found it. If you ever have a chance, check it out. Poortvliet's joy and excitement really are a hymn of praise.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Dissection of Ezekiel

I found David Ryan Long's debut novel, Ezekiel's Shadow, in the library about a year ago. It's the story of a horror writer who becomes a Christian and how that decision wreaks havoc with his writing career. As a writer myself, I enjoyed getting into the character's head and seeing similarities and differences in work habits and thought processes. But you don't have to be a writer to enjoy the book. It's good.

Dave, who is a fiction acquisitions editor at Bethany House, is offering his book as a guinea pig in an experiment designed to help writers and readers understand better what makes fiction work. Or not work. Ezekiel's Shadow worked for me, and it must have worked for other people too, because it won a Christy award when it came out, I believe in 2002. Still, I think Dave's a brave guy to offer it up for public dissection this week, online.

The guy wielding the scalpel is gutsy, too: J. Mark Bertrand, a Christian writer who thinks way deeper and better than I can ever hope to do. Mark's intro to the discussion is here, and the Faith*in*Fiction blog hosted by Dave Long is here, and the F*i*F forum is here. I'm sure it will be a lively discussion on all fronts as Mark analyzes and Dave answers questions and the rest of us join in.

Alas, I won't have much time to take part, even though I have my very own copy of the book now. Out-of-state relatives are descending upon my house tomorrow, and then I'm going out of town myself. But I'll at least check in to see how the guinea pig is faring on the operating table.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The right fig tree

Last night about twilight, I sat in our sunroom with the windows open and just watched the rain. And realized I couldn't remember the last time I had just sat still with eyes and ears open. With nothing to do but . . . be.

I've been on a tear for the last few weeks, finishing/revising/polishing a manuscript. Now that I've finished it to my current satisfaction, I haven't looked at it again. I'm taking a short break, but I'm itching to start my next story. Whatever that may be.

A few years ago, I was e-mailing back and forth with my author friend Sherrie in Idaho, and I said I'd been trying to figure out what the Lord wanted me to write next. She e-mailed back: "I think He wants you to write what you want to write." I love that idea.

But then there's also the concept I shared with another friend who was contemplating starting a book. I told her about my fig tree that I grew in a pot in our house in Michigan. For several years, the thing hardly grew, but when we moved to Georgia and I planted it outside, it took off. It even developed an offshoot, and then I had two fig trees. I started getting excited. Finally, after about five years in Georgia, I saw the first tiny green figs. My long-awaited harvest had nearly arrived, and I could hardly wait to taste sweet, delicious figs.

But they weren't very sweet. Didn't have much flavor. They were just . . . okay. No matter what we did to that tree, it could only produce bland, semi-sweet figs. All that time, I'd been nurturing the wrong variety of fig tree.

It takes a long time to write a novel. I don't want to nurture those pages for months or maybe years, and then realize the fruit can never be more than just okay.

So, this is where I have to take time to think, to pray, to be. To be quiet before the Lord. I do believe Sherrie's right, that He wants me to have freedom to write what I want to write. He doesn't dictate what my next project should be. But I need His wisdom to guide my freedom.