The Upside-Down Side

Yes, the writing life can be tough. From the get-go, authors need to develop tough hides. Maybe we need to “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God,…” (Ephesians 6:10-18).

This month, we’ve opened up our hearts and minds, shared our low points and high points. We’ve shared with our readers what we’ve learned from those high and low places, in hopes that we can encourage and strengthen someone else along the way.

In my humble opinion, it’s worth the trouble, the emotional turmoil. The upside is this: Our words appear in print, somewhere, whether in a published novel or right here. Someone will read my thoughts and decide for themselves whether or not I’m truly a writer. Scary thought, yes.

Still, it’s worth it, because I’ve taken the chance and by that chance, made something of an impact.

Click-to-Tweet: The downside of the upside is that someone will know our thoughts and think we should keep them to ourselves.

We’ve opened ourselves up to the world as a poet does, or any other artist sharing their life’s work. We know not everyone will see what we’re trying to convey. But to keep to ourselves what we’ve been given to share is not an option. That’s the same as burying the talent we’ve been given in the ground (Matthew 25:25).

Image by expresswriters via Pixabay

So, the upside is an accomplishment, be it great or small—whether it’s a published article in a local newspaper or a full-fledged novel. Be encouraged to overcome all the emotional turmoil that is a definite downside to the writing life.

Some of the best points we may glean from this month’s discussion is to be strong and courageous. We can overcome the downside doldrums by putting ourselves “out there” in critique groups, writers meetings, and conferences, establishing strong and sometimes lifelong relationships. That’s a definite upside.

Feel free to share experiences in safe places like this one. Comment on our posts and let us know we’ve helped someone along the way. Be encouraged to stay the course. Invest your talents. It’s your time.


A writing prompt for you to finish: You’re sound asleep when the doorbell rings. It’s barely dawn. You open the door to find a large watermelon on the doorstep.

Good Launch Weather

by Kristy Horine

My husband went into the hobby store for a battery tester. The tester was for the wireless stomp pedal that turns the pages on the iPad where he stores his music sheets for the trumpet he plays on Sunday mornings.

He’d been having trouble with the stomp pad. He attacked the problem like he usually does: a serious process of elimination.

First, he changed the batteries. Then, he played around at the angle his feet hit the silver depressor buttons. Then, he jumped online and waded into every forum he could find on stomp pedals. Then, he watched a few YouTube videos. Then, he landed in the hobby store to find all the right wires, gauges, and alligator clips necessary to test batteries.

“Ah.” He nodded his head, rubbed his chin a bit.

Turns out, there was something wonky with the wiring inside the stomp pedal connecting the batteries to the device.

Also turns out the warranty had recently expired.

My husband ordered a DC adapter. He can still use his devices and toot his horn.

Still, there was something that just wouldn’t let go of him. Something that kept him staring into space, rubbing his chin, zoning out on conversations.

It wasn’t long before I received a text. “I’m in the hobby store. Think Sadie would like to shoot off a rocket?”

And so it began.

Each step of the build, a grown man and his five-year-old daughter glued together much more than Part A to Part B. It wasn’t long they had a completed rocket. My husband opened an app.

“Good launch weather.”

We trudged over the fields – the rocket and we three.

A connection here, a countdown there, and the rocket was off in a whoosh of flame and a cloud of smoke. It reached an apex and began a descent. The parachute failed to deploy. The rocket plummeted to earth.

My husband shook his head.

“I’m sorry for the launch failure.”

My mouth fell open a little.

“Are you kidding?!? That launch was perfect. The landing was a little iffy, but the launch was fantastic!”

The rocket lived to launch another day – five more times, to date.

So, what does this have to do with writing?

Everything.

We have a problem, a need or a want, an assignment, or a story spark. Sometimes the writing comes fast, the words falling into perfect places. Sometimes there’s a distraction and one thing leads to another. We go in for a tester and end up standing in a field by a launchpad. T-10 and counting.

There are times we know the beginning. There are times we think we know the beginning. Often, we can only guess at where or how our work might land.

No matter the unknowns, dear writers, today there’s good launch weather. It’s T-10 and writing.

Click-to-Tweet: How is writing a story like launching a rocket? Good Launch Weather – @Kwriteone via @InspiredPrompt – The Emotional Highs and Lows of Writing


Writing Prompt – Using this story starter and photo, write an opening paragraph:   “The heather is blooming on the mountain,” Oriole said. “I’m longing to go.”

The Emotional Highs and Lows of Writing

I went out for a walk after a long night of rain. The sky overhead was a brilliant blue. On the sidewalk at my feet, an earthworm washed up by the rain writhed in agony. I felt sorry for it, but I couldn’t bring myself to touch it. Yuck.

I couldn’t help thinking about it, because sometimes I feel like that earthworm. Ecstatic one moment, curled up in a fetal position hours later.

We’ve all been there. It’s not just you, and it’s not weird.

I remember the euphoria when I’d met an actual published writer at my first regional writers’ conference who befriended me like I was someone with promise. She was an encourager, and I basked in her attention. She suggested I go to the ACFW conference. “You’ll meet big names, agents, publishers!”

I thought long and hard about it. This conference would be an investment. It was expensive and I’d have to fly there. More expense. My husband decided we should both go. He could play golf while I attended the conference. I was beyond excited and so, so nervous.

I prepared everything I would need for my very first meeting with a publisher. I had recently completed my novel, a wonderful fantasy with a strong spiritual message. It was gonna WOW him!

Photo by Wokandapix via Pixabay

Some of you can probably guess what happened. He smiled politely. “This is not ready, and not only that, it’s not even believable. And fantasy in the Christian market,” he shook his head. “It’ll never sell.” And then he proceeded to tell me not to quit my day job. I wasn’t ready, my story wasn’t ready.

Not ready, not believable? It’s fantasy, for goodness sake!

I’m stoic. I don’t like to show my emotions, especially in front of strangers. So, I plastered on a smile and thanked him for his time.

My husband was playing golf. Our room was empty so, I left the conference and went there. I curled up in a fetal position and cried. My heart was broken. Crushed. I was convinced I would never recover. It was over. (Only stoic in public, quite dramatic in private.)

The fantasy I had been living for the past year had ended in a devastating crash.

I got up, washed my face and repaired my makeup. Then, I put on my mask and returned to the conference. Weeks and months would pass before I fully recovered from this experience. Weeks when I never touched my manuscript. Why should I? It was over. I was not a writer.

Gradually, I crept back into the world of writing. I read about writing. I attended local writers’ meetings. I talked to other writers. And after that long, hard year passed, I went back to that regional writers’ conference. I took the classes and soaked it all up. I began to breathe again. And hope. And dream. And finally, to write.

Such is the life of the person who dares to identify as an author.

Our proclamation of, “I have a fantastic idea for a story!” is met with, “Meh! It’s too cliché. It’s been done. Blah! Don’t waste your time, because it’ll never sell.” Yada. Yada. Yada.

Don’t even get me started on what happened when I joined a critique group. Talk about trauma and anguish—oh my!

Thankfully, my story has a happy-ish ending. That original fantasy is Indie published. I completed two three-book series for Write Integrity Press and I’ve started a third series, soon to be contracted. I LOVE my critique group!

My sales haven’t rocked, so I still experience the highs and lows associated with our chosen profession. It’s never been easy. Each new story brings fresh challenges and sometimes, I’m convinced they will never work. I’m wasting my time! What makes me think I can write? There’s so much competition! When I’m all “Woe is me,” I’m still that earthworm.

Then, I’m stopped by a reader who gushes over my latest book and my emotions soar! Maybe I can write, after all.

I sit down and begin to write and the joy returns, especially when I get to write posts that will ultimately encourage young writers and help them understand the struggle we face.

Click-to-Tweet: The Emotional Highs and Lows of Writing might be your everyday reality, but you don’t have to let them rule you.

Writer’s Prompt: Close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting in a chair, conversing with your prospective agent. Your heart pounds, you take deep breaths and struggle to remember your elevator pitch, then something happens. You start talking, but it’s not what you’d planned…

Romancing Jane Eyre

Which came first, Beauty and the Beast, or Jane Eyre? There are definite similarities between the two stories. The answer to this question is, of course, Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête – fairy tale by French novelist Suzanne Barbot de Villenueve, published in 1740).

In Jane Eyre, Rochester is a bit of a beast when Jane first meets him. Really, he’s just angry all the time, and for good reason. Like Belle, Jane “tames” the beast with her kindness.

This famous Gothic romance is still a best-seller today, so let’s examine some of my favorite story elements that in my mind at least, make this story great.

Our heroine is an outcast, rejected by her family. Her ill-treatment among those who should have loved her seemed to prepare her for what lay ahead. Most children sent to Lowood School don’t survive, which may have been the main reason her aunt sent her there.

But Jane did survive. Rather than allow herself to rot away as a teacher at Lowood Academy, Jane Eyre advertises for a suitable position as a governess. She desires adventure, and she certainly finds that at Thornfield Hall.

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.

Like Beauty and the Beast, Jane Eyre is a societal tale. Belle’s father is a merchant, Beast is a prince. Jane’s situation in life is far below that of Mr. Rochester, during a time when the class system was ironclad. A titled man of property never dared to marry a governess. It was frowned upon.

Jane Eyre also presents the reader with situations that require acceptance and forgiveness. According to Bronte, Rochester is not an attractive man in the usual sense. He’s ugly and brooding. Though he is in possession of a good income and a fine estate, bad decisions have left him in an unfortunate condition. I’m leaving the poor man’s history at that, in case you haven’t read the book or seen one of the movies. I don’t wish to spoil for you. 😊

Our heroine is plain. But in my opinion, she’s not a typical plain Jane. Though in the beginning, she is reserved and seems overly prudish, she exhibits inner beauty and peace that is awe-inspiring. She’s a gifted artist and speaks fluent French. The reader can’t help but admire her, and Rochester is immediately drawn to her character. It’s a classic case of “opposites attract.”

The romance element is strong in Jane Eyre. The attraction begins early on as the unlikely couple banter about ordinary subjects. Rochester is not put off by her reticence but draws her out. Her intelligence and wit inspire many brow-arching moments on his part. As their relationship deepens, their two souls seem almost intertwined, prompting him to remark that their hearts are connected by an unbreakable cord.

It’s a Gothic tale, for all is not as it seems at Thornfield Hall. The manor house is pokey and dark, but still ten times better than Lowood School, where she’s spent most of her life so far. Then there are times when Jane hears maniacal laughter and piercing screams. Her doorknob rattles as though someone is trying to open it. Is the house haunted? Or, is it a more ordinary circumstance, as the housekeeper assures her? A laundress with a propensity for over-imbibing alcohol.

Days of sunlit gardens give some relief from the dark interior of the house, along with Jane’s growing affection for Adele, the little girl in her care, who is Rochester’s ward. But just when things seem to be headed toward happily-ever-after, something terrible happens that nearly drives Jane over the edge. She must leave Thornfield Hall at once!

Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you.

She takes the coach to the end of its route and finds herself alone on the moors. Now in a completely different world, she’s living another life with a new suitor, though I never accepted him as suitable for Jane. 😊

It is evident that the writing of this tale must have taken years. Jane Eyre is a well-thought-out story filled with symbolism and truths that you may not catch the first time through. I’ve read it more times than I can count, and I’ve watched several film versions. Still, the original novel is stunningly detailed.

One of Jane’s strongest character traits is a direct result of her religious upbringing. She can seem closed and judgmental at times, but those deep, spiritual roots keep her moving forward and on more than one occasion, keep her from making a really bad decision that would most certainly destroy her.

Oh, to pen such a story as this one! Though some modern readers will find the language stilted and the narrative a bit wordy, others will discover as I did, the beauty of a timeless theme. Love banishes darkness.

All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence forever.

If interested, you’ll find an excellent study of Jane Eyre here:  Jane Eyre Study Guide

Click-to-Tweet: “All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence forever.” – Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre from Romancing Jane Eyre via @InspiredPrompt

Writing Prompt: “You say your heart belongs only to him. How then can you leave him? What terrible thing has he done to break your heart and bring your world crashing down?” How would your fictional heroine answer this question?

Dumbbells and Smart Belles

by Peggy Cunningham

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me (Acts 20:24 NIV).

I’m not an exercise guru. Not even close. But I strive to keep going physically, mentally, and spiritually. Yes, there are days I want to give it all up––the writing, the classes, even the ministry. Did I just admit that?

Honestly, haven’t you been there a time or two? I’m guessing yes. When it happens, what can we do?

Admitting it is the first step. It makes us face the reality that things change, and sometimes God does want to move us into a new task. Or maybe He wants to renew us for the task at hand. Perhaps, we are burned out or just weary. Either way, He doesn’t want us to give up, but to move forward.

You don’t have to be in your senior years to feel like putting yourself on the beach. Some seasons in our lives can be discouraging and make us lose our drive, sense of purpose, and our way. We are tempted to give up on our dreams and our divine tasks.

I think it is because we have lost sight of why we are in the race. The finish line vanishes from our view.

When I reach that point, I frankly ask myself: is it time to give up, or do I want to do more? It’s a reality check that shakes my soul and causes me to evaluate my emotions. No, of course, I don’t want to give up. I want to finish the race well––on the path I walk or another path waiting for me.

In my book, Shape Your Soul, I write about resistance training.  Resistance training increases stamina. As you grow stronger, you don’t tire as quickly. Likewise, the more we resist the devil, the more our faith muscles strengthen and our faith increases. Each victory over sin builds our faith. We resist the temptation to give up, and we don’t give in to his schemes. “Therefore, submit to God. But, resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 HCSB).

Physically, I push myself. I love to scrub floors (go figure). I look for ways to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. I put things away where I’ll have to bend—yup, bending exercises. I keep moving, physically, mentally, and spiritually. If not, the body withers, the mind gets lazy, and the soul dies. Equally, I push myself spiritually—studying my Bible, reading daily devotions, and applying what I learn. Soon the hardest part of pushing ceases and strength is gained.

A few years ago, I developed carpal tunnel because of excess computer work. Then last year, my right arm developed golf elbow and tennis elbow from completing five book contracts. Both times, I had physical therapy for many months. The therapist advised dumbbell lifting to straighten my wrists and arm. Grueling can’t adequately describe the pain of the therapy. But, without pushing myself, my shoulder risked being frozen, I faced possible surgery for my wrists, and my dream (writing more) would come to an end.

In order to persevere, I continually envisioned the result of all the therapy––and worked toward the healing of my injured tendons without hesitation. I set my sights on the final therapy session and the possibility of enjoying my work again. Using dumbbells meant being a smart belle who understood that without finishing the therapy, her dreams would fade away.

Striving for the finish line and our accomplishments in what God has called us to do along the way keeps us going. The daily working out our faith strengthens our soul. There may be setbacks and rest periods along the journey, but if we don’t give up, we’ll finish well.

Click-to-Tweet: Dumbells and Smart Belles – insight on shaping your soul and body #FollowGod #FinishTheRace #Faith

Writing Prompt:  If we believe God wants us to write, we should never give up but trust Him for wisdom, direction, and His words for His glory.

In this new year, let’s be smart belles using our proverbial dumbbells to strengthen our souls. Never give up.


Peggy Cunningham and her husband, Chuck have been missionaries in Bolivia since 1981. In 1999, they founded Rumi Rancho Ministries. Rumi Rancho is their ministry base and home, located outside the city of Cochabamba. There they work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also a published author of children’s books and women’s devotionals.

Shape Your Soul is Peggy’s latest devotional book for women. Enter God’s Gym and exercise your body and soul, so you can seize difficult life-mountains, and in God’s strength, move them! Available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2lbfHJm

Connect with Peggy at www.PeggyCunningham.com.