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    Wednesday
    Jul242013

    Wanna Know Why I'm Obsessed?

    Allow me to describe one of my favorite moments.

    I’m sitting down to my corner Starbucks table, a fresh dark chocolate bar and cup of green tea at my elbow with at least two hours to do exactly as I please.  Makes me breathe deep and relax just thinking about it. 

    Why do I love writing?  Is it the activity that helps restore sanity or an outlet for insanity?  Guess the answer to that question depends on circumstances—and the time of the month.

    When I first became a full-blown writing addict, I had lofty goals of writing that great American classic and wowing the literary community with my breakout, inaugural novel. 

    Ah, the bliss of ignorance.

    Morning after sleep-deprived morning, the rocket fuel of my literary honeymoon began to wane.  But as in any relationship worth having, the commitment deepened and the satisfaction delved far past any delusions of grandeur. 

    "I started writing with no clue what had begun, much like a first kiss that can’t conceive of a mortgage and parenting."

    In high school and college, writing was something I had to do to get a grade and the task was generally approached with the same degree of anticipation as a dentist’s drill.  Even with my major in broadcast journalism, the articles I researched and wrote were an obligation—a means to an end.  I was a decent writer, made good grades and conquered those deadlines, but I finally had to admit I didn’t like newswriting much and had little desire to be a source of alarm and despair day-in-day-out for the rest of my life. 

    Thus I turned to singing and acting for a creative outlet and achieved some minor success as I entered marriage and motherhood, adding a bit to the family coffers and even getting the satisfaction of ministry through those mediums.  How cool of God to take something I loved and use it to bless people!

    And all the while, the art of writing sat on the shelf, underappreciated and labeled as “chore” rather than “pleasure.”  In daydreams I entertained the vague idea of someday writing a bestseller. However, the desire for such a venture, not to mention the inspiration, was lacking. 

    But God had other plans.  First there was a dream (a very cool dream I hope to relate as a short story someday) where I felt I was given the “gift” of writing.  There was no time for it during that phase of intense mommyhood, but I held on to that dream, my little haven where I could go for a mini vacation for my overwhelmed brain.

    Then prayer took over. 

    In 2004, upon reading Pete Greig’s book, Red Moon Rising, his chronicle of the worldwide 24/7 prayer movement, (highly recommend) I was inspired to crawl out of bed an hour earlier each day and pray. 

    Pray.  A four-letter word to describe a fathomless experience.  Deceptively simple, eh?

    A full year passed.  The prayer times were full and often amazing, but frustration was building.  I needed an outlet for this nameless, burning zeal that was both blissful and excruciating, but nothing that materialized fit the gargantuan proportions of whatever God was keeping so secret that even I couldn’t get a good look at it.

    "I kept rising early to practice the art of praying and writing—and learning how little I knew about either."

    Then I woke one summer morning from a dream that contained the seed of a beautiful story.  In the coming days, the story gained details and acquired a middle and even an end.  I started writing with no clue what had begun, much like a first kiss that can’t conceive of a mortgage and parenting.

    Ten months later I had a first draft in hand.  Six months after that, a rewrite.  Had I entered a new phase with an ongoing life’s work or was this a one-story wonder?  But every day I kept rising early to practice the art of praying and writing—and learning how little I knew about either.  However, I had fallen in love with both so there was no turning back. 

    Another dream, another story to work on until June of 2007 when God hit turbo.  This time, prayer was the catalyst for a three-month whirlwind of Q and A with God as He turned my beliefs inside out, exposing prejudice, manmade traditions and full-on misconceptions.  My Starbucks table became the scene for countless moments of spiritual grappling and surrender and writing became the tool to force the overwhelming thoughts to exit single-file onto my computer screen.

    And when I began writing the story in the fall of 2007 to accompany my epic spiritual struggle, the results finally began to match the inner passion.

    But overall, the writing is a tool God has used to shape me and help me know Him betterEven if there comes a day when I never write another word, the relationship will go on. 

    For now, though, my cup of tea and unrushed moments are vital, a lifeline to the One at the center of… everything.  They bring me back to center.

    Chana is wife of one, mom to four and bestselling author of two. She brakes for old barns, chai, homemade cookies and any time someone needs to watch Pride & Prejudice.

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    Reader Comments (10)

    Beautiful, beautiful writing testimony. Thank you for sharing. It's inspiring to read and truly fills me with joy.

    July 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNadine Brandes

    It is truly amazing how God works to encourage us and love us. When we share His inspired love, it blesses so many, but one would not begin to grasp how wide and deep His love travels. I can perceive that God is doing something powerful in your inspired writing as it has blessed me (and others with whom I have shared your books) and captured my heart...so much that I can't stop praying for you to be able to complete more books (selfish, I know). I even had wondered what keeps you motivated in the midst of marketing and the rest of your daily activities. And here, you have answered that question: your relationship with God has grown in such an intimate, powerful way through the writing. That powerful love you are experiencing is definitely being expressed in your writing and I am grateful that you are pursuing this passion. Your passion is contagious! Blessings to you and your family!

    July 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenifer

    Thank you so much, Nadine and Jenifer.

    You are both such encouragers. It's a wonderful outgrowth of this journey when I think of the many awesome, passionate-for-God folks I would never have met--if not for my writing addiction.

    I'm honored and blessed by your friendship and prayers. You are in mine as well.

    Hugs & blessings,

    Chana

    July 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChana Keefer

    Hello Chana,

    Your story resonated and inspired me. We never quite know what God is up to, do we?

    I began feverishly writing, praying, and seeking answers from God when experiencing a crisis period in my life. This process led me to the notion that this was something I really enjoyed. I never looked at writing with those eyes before, so I guess you could say the "scales fell from my eyes."

    Keep writing, keep praying, and keep dreaming. Your steps are divinely inspired.

    July 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPenelope

    Though I don't share the same belief in God or a higher power, I would describe my own writing journey as spiritually nourishing. The need to create, the drive to build a story from disparate threads of ideas - it is something of an obsession for me.

    My writing space tends to be on my back porch, a cup of home brewed coffee beside me, my laptop and notebook and, most essential, some good jazz on the radio.

    When I get to do that, it's like - "Where are we gonna go today?"

    There is nothing quite like that feeling.

    July 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDean M

    Totally agree, Dean.

    Writing is a wonderful case of, "Take a trip and never leave the farm."

    Someday that might involve me on my own back porch, but for now I usually drive away from laundry and dishes because they shout down those creative moments. ;)

    Best of everything to you on your writing journey.

    Chana

    July 25, 2013 | Registered CommenterChana

    Hi Penelope,

    Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. Sounds like you have your own fascinating journey of writing.

    Thank you so much for reading.

    Many blessings!

    Chana

    July 25, 2013 | Registered CommenterChana

    Great testimony, Chana. We have a lot in common ;)

    October 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDana Pratola

    Dana Pratola, I take that as a great compliment.

    You are one gutsy, talented, anointed writer.

    October 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChana Keefer

    Thanks! As are you. Love your work <3

    October 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDana Pratola

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