On writing and grief and finishing that book

I finished my initial read through of the book last night. My first reaction? Thank God it’s not too bad. I’ve never done this whole writing a 450 page novel thing. This is my first rodeo, so I didn’t know what to expect. Couple that with the fact that it’s been almost three years since I started this draft of the book and you have a writer who’s a bit nervous.

I wrote the beginning of the book a long, long time before I wrote The End. What if it didn’t connect?

Now admittedly, there are a few gaps to be worked out and the ending needs some sharpening. I wanted to finish so badly that my fingers were literally flying over the keyboard. It took me a little over two years to write the first 150 pages of that books. It took me just shy of 9 months to write the final 300 pages.

The story finally came tumbling out.

In a lot of ways, the book writing process very much mirrors a birth process. Only, honestly, I think it’s mentally and emotionally harder to write a book than have a baby.

I am connected to this story in a way that no one else will ever really understand. The characters became real to me. I dream about them at night. I hear their voices in my head. It all sounds so strange, but it’s not unlike the connection I felt to my unborn children.

I knew them before I saw them. I dreamed of them. I was connected to them in a way no one else could be, because they were a part of me.

Parts of my story are connected to this story. I used to feel a little ashamed and embarrassed about how long it took me to write this book, but I realized in the last week as I read through it that I needed to take that time. There are parts of this story that I could not have written if I hadn’t had the experiences I had.

I needed to experience childbirth and motherhood.

I needed to experience the heartache of losing the hope of a child.

I needed to experience the darkness of depression.

Friends, the last few months have been very, very hard. I’ve tried not to overdo the drama of it all on the blog, but I have not been in a good place. I am always right on the edge of an emotional breakdown. Most of the people who see me on a regular basis know this all too well as I basically cry at the drop of a hat.

In truth, I hardly remember the month of January. It’s as though that entire month has been blocked from my subconscious. I have never felt more alone or experienced a deeper pain than I did in that month. I couldn’t eat, I was in a constant state of fatigue and I lived from moment to moment in a fog of emotional pain.

Feburary is a bit brighter, but the memory of that month is shrouded in fog. That was the month I began to process my heartache – to share it and open up about the depths of the pain I felt.

March has been a little better, but the wound is still fresh and the grief can be set off at any moment.

And in these two and a half months since grief crashed down on me, I’ve written 175 pages. The words poured out and they became cathartic and brought about healing in an almost beautiful way. I transferred my grief to my characters, people who were experiencing a darkness much deeper than my own.

I don’t know if I wrote the story well, but I do know that writing the story helped me heal.

Writing a book requires that you pour your heart out. It’s hard and long and arduous and painful, but in the end, a sort of life is birthed from the process. Your hard work produces a miracle. A piece of you is transferred to the outside and you have a tangible evidence of the labor and pain.

It is, indeed, like the birth of a baby…if you were birthing a baby while running a marathon and spinning plates on a long, tall stick. The metaphor gets convoluted – roll with it.

I’ve passed my book out to my first round of test readers. I have several people lined up waiting to read it and I’m both excited and terrified. I know it needs work, but I also believe in the potential of the story. There are edits to comb through and rewrites to prepare for. There are holes to fill and there’s probably more research to be done.

(Oh sweet mercy, how I hate research. Can I just take a brief moment to tell you how many times I wished I had been given something easier to write about? Why couldn’t I just make up my world and my people? Historical fiction?! Oy…)

But all of that is okay, because there is still room for healing in my heart. The world isn’t dark and lonely anymore, thanks to a few people who have stepped up beside me and begun walking through the grief with me, and also thanks to the process of pouring my heart out to the story that I was given.

I needed to write this story at this time – to give birth to the characters in this way. Soon I pray I will have the opportunity to introduce this book to the world, but for now I covet your prayers as I begin editing. I long to present a book of excellence – a story that brings honor not to my name, but to the God who entrusted me with these stories.

Will you pray with me?

Guest Post: On Waking Up Wondering if You’re Depressed

Today’s post comes from my internet friend, Nicole Unice. Nicole reached out to me a couple of years ago after reading my blog and realizing we are basically the same person living in different parts of the country. I love making friends with people who share common ground.

Nicole is a beautiful writer and a speaker. In her new book, She’s Got Issues, Nicole explores the ordinary issues that are keeping you from the full and free life you were meant to have. I would encourage you to read today’s post and be blessed. This was exactly what I needed to read after what has been a terribly difficult and exhausting weekend. I needed to hear that my brokenness is being met – that I am not forgotten. 

Thank you, Nicole, for encouraging us all today!

From Nicole: I wrote this post a while back, and I find it strangely comforting. To be encouraged by God is one of the best gifts he gives us in this life. If you are brokenhearted today, my prayer for you is that you would boldly and desperately ask God to make himself known to you, and I will join with you in faith to see Him answer that prayer.


Last Tuesday was a very bad day.


I woke up, ready to go back to bed. I felt like I had a giant swab of cotton wrapped around my head. I shuffled around the kitchen like a zombie, mumbling at the kids and chugging coffee. No particular reason. Just fuzzy. Low. Sad. Teary.

My husband is a morning person and almost immune to bad moods. He might as well whistle “zippety do dah” as he springs out of bed, he’s so cheery. But on this day, not even his sunny disposition could lift my spirits.

A few minutes later, I’m dragging around our room, avoiding the children and trying to will myself to not crawl back into the bed.

“What’s wrong…” he says.

“I don’t know,” I say.

What is wrong with me? I wonder.


“I know what’s wrong,” I say, five minutes later, teary, “I have nothing to look forward to. I feel like I work from the second my feet hit the ground until the second I close my eyes.”

Now I’m gaining steam.

“OK, you know how you hate to write (he hates to write. even emails.) Imagine if you are working hard at something you don’t like, and someone is deleting every line immediately after you finish it.”

Then I cry.

Because that is how I felt that day. Like days were endless amounts of work, me running, others coming behind me and deleting everything that I do. Endlessly serving with no return.

This is not a good place for a mom. Or a ministry leader. But this is the place I was in. And like a dark cloud inching across the horizon, this mood threatened to steal my joy and my hope, and even my faith, at least for one day.
The morning drags, the tears continue. The diagnostician in me wonders if I am depressed. Do I meet ten of the twelve required criteria on the DSM-IV manual? Am I sleeping too much, eating too little, enjoying nothing?


As I leave the house that morning, I whisper a desperate prayer.

God, I don’t have the strength to seek help or encouragement today. If you are real and you care about me, would you care for me today? I need you to show yourself–in a word, or a person, or somehow.”

It’s 9:30AM. I’m having coffee with a dear friend–more crying–more wondering if I need medication–and I get this text, at the bottom of the screen:

Prayer Answered.

What else can I say to that? Except that I felt loved even when I couldn’t ask for it. I felt encouraged, and not because I have wonderful people in my life (although I do).

But because when my heart is broken I feel God.

He is so faithful to me with his presence. Maybe not in his answers or in his gifts or in the things I call “blessings”, but in the reality that my brokenness always calls his presence.

And that’s worth looking forward to, for the rest of my life.

Click here to read more of Nicole’s encouraging words.