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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Writing in a Time of Discontent

Here by the creek, we do mornings by rote. I head to the kitchen to brew up a strong cup in our French press and prepare the perfect bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit, while Michael, the darling, feeds the animals and makes the bed. (It must be his Navy training that allows him to create such perfect corners.) We take breakfast seriously, waking slowly as we sip and eat and discover the world’s news—or, in my case, what Facebook and various blogs have to offer.

Words seem too loosely used these days, anger too acceptable. Maybe it’s just man behaving badly to man as he has through the centuries, but I feel as if social media exposes me—us—to accusations tossed like darts at a corkboard in the hope of hitting something, anything. A certain edginess seems to be sneaking up on any unguarded flank.

I’ve met a few folk who claim to have turned off and tuned inward, but does that really work? We can’t live in the world—even if we choose not to be of it—without the mess affecting something—or someone—near or dear to us.

Maybe political writers are doing a happy dance at the angst that provides fodder for their words. But what about the rest of us? I don’t know about you, but I’d like to get on with the story. To explore and create and write.

And yet. And yet.

Story comes from deep within us, sometimes from a well of peace and occasionally from a cauldron bubbling with anger. Whatever’s brewing inside will show up on the page because story does not evolve in a void. Our worldview always creeps in, but what about that next level, the stuff that pushes us to react one way or another as we tiptoe around in a world that feels very much on edge—and I don’t mean on the edge of anything good.

We face a contentious election and prophecies of doom, gloom, and judgment. We look at wars and rumors of wars, at violence escalating around us. In the US, a country supposedly at peace, many are frightened—or at least worried—that they’ll be a terrorist’s next target.

While we’re living this life, responding—or not—to the stimuli slamming us from all sides, we’re writers and so we have stories to tell. What’s in us will emerge. What’s filling our heart and our mind will show up somewhere.

Writers of suspense and intrigue, murder and mayhem have a natural outlet for angst, but what about the rest of us? Does the anger flowing in so many directions, swirling through the atmosphere in real time or online, affect your world and your writing? Do you fear for the future for yourself, for others, for this world? Or does faith guide and flow through you? How do you make that work?

Has anything changed for you? What sort of questions are you asking? (Or aren’t you asking any?)

I find myself questioning my purpose more than ever and wanting my words to count. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what, if anything, I might do differently to keep my focus on the true and the important. We who believe know the end of the story and Who wins. And while that comforts me, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m not sure how much time I have for business as usual.

Writing in a Time of Discontent @NovelRocket

Normandie studied sculpture in Italy before receiving a BA, summa cum laude with special honors in English. Her women’s fiction has garnered numerous awards across the country, including a recent final in the Maggie (Heavy Weather): Becalmed (2013), Sailing out of Darkness (2013), and Heavy Weather (2015). Her first romantic suspense, Two from Isaac’s House, released in November 2015 and was a Romantic Times Top Pick. From Fire into Fire is her fifth book. A lifelong sailor, she and her husband spent a number of years on board their 50-foot ketch, Sea Venture, in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico.


  1. Hi Normandie,

    Thanks for the timely and thoughtful post, written quite prettily. My take (and I think we're on the same page, just stating it differently) is that fearing for the future is not antithetical to having faith (or, letting it "flow through us," as you say). It's not an "either, or" proposition. The O.T. prophet was the first to raise the alarm about future disaster--typically judgment in some form--but we could say it was faith that caused him to do so. The prophet RIGHTLY feared for the future.

    Nowadays, Christians may shudder at the thought of coming persecution--or judgment--as ungodliness increases, precisely because both are part and parcel of a godly worldview. Fearing for the future is then a sane response; LIVING in fear is another matter, and yes, antithetical to faith, which goes hand in hand with trust. Like many aspects of Christian theology, it's a tightrope walk--we don't want to live in fear, but to ignore the growing intolerance of Christianity (which could very well lead to persecution) would be naive.

  2. Meant to add, I agree with you that now more than ever, we need to question our purpose and have our words count!

  3. Thanks, Linore. Your use of the tightrope as a metaphor works: a tightrope must be taut enough to keep the walker aloft but not so taut that it snaps. We must remain aware enough to act (or to carve proper words both written and spoken) but not afraid to the point of being paralyzed--or breaking.

    I'm glad the post made sense enough to elicit a response and clarification: I wrote it with a brain muddied by a miserable attack of allergies (or cold--don't yet know).

  4. Has anything changed for me? Not in my writing, but in my life, I would say these last few months especially have quickened my spirit, so that I find myself praying very often for our nation, for Christians to rise up and stand together and love and serve the lost world. I find myself praying for a twenty-first century revival, one that would surpass those Great Awakenings in America's history. I find myself praying for great preachers, men like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, men who will unite Christians and draw us away from our many distractions and back into the battle for Truth.

    Great post today, Normandie. You always make me think.

  5. Amen, Robin. But don't you imagine that hunger, that thirst for an awakening, will also influence your writing? When I think about your stories, I think of Marley and how timely her situation is. You may not feel that imperative, but I've told you before that Marley's actions make me think about choices. What would I do in such a situation?

    Marley's story needs to be published. It really does.

  6. I think maybe that's what this Carol finalist thing is all about--paving a road for that book. We'll see.

    And yes, you're right, the news, the unrest--those probably do influence my writing. Not that way they have yours with the Isaac's House books. They are so timely, and I know they came straight from your heart for God's people.

  7. Perhaps there'll be another Isaac's House novel soon. The news, the horrors breaking forth in every direction, point to that story, don't they?


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