Wednesday, March 16, 2005

interview with herwryness

My new friend, Robin (a.k.a. HerWryness), kindly offered to interview me this past week. Feeling up to the challenge, I agreed to jet over to the Bahamas and sit in her beach shack and share life stories over big glasses of freshly squeezed mango juice ... or maybe I just answered her questions via email. I can't quite remember. Here are the highlights:

Robin: Why do you blog?

Shannon: Excellent question, interviewer Robin. I suppose I should confess that I initially thought the term "blog" was short for "blah-blah log." And I thought to myself, I can blah-blah with the best of them ... why not give it a go?

Once I started, the whole concept hooked me. For one thing, blogging is a more casual, forgiving venue than what I'm used to. I set the parameters for this blog. If I want to write a devotional, I write a devotional. If I want to address other writers, I do so. I don't have to read publisher's guidelines first or worry that someone else just published a similar thought. I love the freedom it provides.

I also love the immediacy of blogging. Traditional publishing is anything but immediate. For example, magazines can take a year or longer to publish your work--even after they've accepted it. Books take longer. My first took eighteen months from contract to publication; this next one, which I'll finish in the next month, will be somewhere around twenty months. That’s a long time to wait for feedback from readers. With blogging, however, you write, wait twenty minutes, refresh the page, and find a comment from a reader. It’s practically like having someone sit in your living room and watch while you type them a message.

Plus, blogging provides connection with old and new readers and with other writers. I'm so taken with it, I can't imagine ever not blogging. (Are you excited to know you'll one day read about my shuffleboard and/or pinochle exploits down at the old folks' home? :)

Robin: Are you ever surprised about where your writing starts or where it ends?

Shannon: Let me answer you this way: if I’m ever not surprised, I start over. Predictability is unforgiveable. With five senses, dozens of emotions, and thousands of words available to me, there’s no excuse to settle for dry, lifeless, predictable writing.

So partly, I work at surprising myself. But the other half of that equation is God. Secular writers talk about the "muse," and I suppose if you want to give a pet name to your creativity, that's as good a name as any other. But as a writer who happens to be a Christian, I know that my writing is a joint venture between the Holy Spirit and me. I love finishing a page, looking back over the words that found their way onto the screen, and thinking, "Now THAT'S interesting." Nothing gratifies me more than realizing that God joined me for my writing session.

Robin: What is your favorite nonwriting activity?

Shannon: Oooh, I'm tempted to rebel and give you five or six. If this were fall or winter, I'd have to say knitting, baking or cooking (I adore cookbooks and read them like novels ... sitting on the couch with a quilt and a cup of coffee or cocoa ... sigh.) But being that it's almost spring, I'll have to say gardening. Just this week, I planted eleven rose bushes and one hydrangea, pruned the grapevines around our arbor and the raspberries in back of the vegetable garden, and prepared a new bed for flowers. It's funny how a task I detested as a child (weeding) feels like a guilty pleasure to me now. I feel luxurious and indulged when I sit for a stolen half hour and clear the weeds from between my rosemary, mint and marjoram.

Robin: Could you tell us one thing about being a pastor's wife that we might not know?

Shannon: My answer might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how few people seem to know this: I'm not the pastor. I'll frequently run into people who know my husband is a pastor, and they'll turn to whoever they're with and say, "She and her husband pastor Calvary Chapel ..." It makes me squirm. I'm very, very comfortable in my role as wife to the pastor, but I am not the pastor.

Along with that, I'd like people to realize that we try hard to be good examples, but we really are just women who are married to the pastor. We have all the same weaknesses, we're just as easily tempted or angered, and we make all the same sorts of mistakes as any other member of the fellowship. I love my people dearly ... dearly ... but I wish they'd let me climb off this pedestal! :)

Part of the danger of being up on that pedestal is people put you in a different category. "Well, sure, she has a quiet time every day (or loves the Bible, or forgives those who have hurt her, etc.) ... but what else do you expect from the pastor's wife?" That kind of thinking creates a double-standard. I want to come alongside you and walk together and share our mistakes and hold each other accountable. I don't want you to think I'm on an entirely separate path. We're on the same path together, and we have much to learn from one another.

Robin: Will you try your hand at fiction??

Shannon: Absolutely. Right now I have five or six novels plotted and two screenplays outlined. But I also have about ten other nonfiction ideas, so we're going to have to set up an arm-wrestling match or flip a coin. Whichever idea squeals the loudest will probably come out of the file first.

Robin: You have a beautiful way of capturing moments in life that many miss. What advice would you give modern women to help us catch more of those precious moments?

Shannon: First, thank you. And second, my advice is to take a second look or a second listen to the things that happen around you. Every single day, God is talking to us. He speaks through children, through nature, through odd situations, and even through mundane, ordinary moments. If we really grab hold of that truth, we'll start hearing His voice regularly.

When my son was about four, I found him sitting out on the giant rock that overlooks our pasture and creek. Beyond the creek, the road continues through the woods and up to the main road. Zac sat staring up toward the top of the driveway. I asked what he was doing, and he said, "Grandma said she might write me a letter. I'm waiting to hear the mailman."

Just a hint of a possibility of a coming letter sent him scurrying to a look-out post. How much more should we be looking and listening every day? Our Father wants to speak to us. All we have to do is look His way and tune our ears.
* * *

My thanks to Robin. Please take a minute to visit her website: herwryness. I promise--you'll love her wry perspective.

5 Comment:

At 3/17/2005 7:11 AM, Blogger Lori Seaborg had this to say ...

I am so relieved to know you will be blogging for years to come. Problem is, we'll likely be in the old folks' home at the same time. I hope my arthritis doesn't keep me from clicking on my keyboard and reading your blog. Of course, by then technology will be so advanced that I could email you a Starbuck's coffee -- warm, not hot, so you don't burn your writing hand.

At 3/17/2005 7:52 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

I'd always assumed I'd just have a Starbuck's IV drip ... but I like your idea much, much better!

At 3/17/2005 2:15 PM, Blogger Maurice had this to say ...

Love the post Shannon! Thanks for the insights!

Thanks Robin for the questions!

At 3/17/2005 7:24 PM, Blogger Terri Picone had this to say ...

I like your format and especially the answer that addresses how God is the Christian writer's muse. I feel that way, too, as I look over what I've written with surprise. I guess it's obvious that He who calls us also enables us as well-- in our writing, too.

At 3/19/2005 5:53 PM, Blogger Darlene had this to say ...

That was really interesting. I am impatient and so I do love the instant satisfaction that blogging gives me. You can be published within five minutes, and you get to decide what stays and what goes.


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