December Wrap-Up & Excerpts

Thankfully, this December has not been like the last two.  On the whole, it has been enjoyable, maybe not productive, but not completely lacking in creativity (I wrapped 108 presents because I said I wasn't going to help other people wrap this year & I never keep my promises to myself...).

Christmas is over, & here we are in the latter days of the year + my pregnancy.  I am huge.  No, seriously, if I could show you without traumatizing us all, I would.  Wolfgang is carrying massive + low, & I am at my wits' end to clothe the bump without looking like a tent.  I am not Abraham, that I should be living in tents!  The last week or so has seen an increase in painful Braxton-Hicks + actual full-abdominal contractions, so while I have no idea how far away active labour + delivery may be, at least I know my body is moving in the right direction.  It's the only part of me that can move...

Between Christmas & Wolfgang, I can't boast a lot of writing, but I'll share a little of what I have.  It's one of my favourite things to do & hopefully you'll enjoy it.  Proceeding...

penslayer excerpts

To me he was like a light left on in Goshen.
adamantine rewrite

 Dammerung set a supporting hand on the table; lingering light jumped off a gilt band on one finger. “You and I think alike in that, my dear,” he replied. The fingers and the band of light drummed on the blood. “But I am insatiably curious. Having got my head in the trap, I might as well squeeze in the rest of the way and see who set the thing—and for whom.”
 “Not expecting to catch an Overlord, I’ll warrant,” growled Goddgofang.
“I haven’t been caught yet,” said his father. “But you’d better catch Simon.”
 There was a sudden scuffle, the dark worsened, and I felt my organs float up through the roof of my skull before silence clamped down on my senses.

“My kin were gypsy-folk,” I explained. “Not servants. But I am part of Dammerung’s household because…because it is good to be so,” I finished, overcome with confusion and not knowing what for.
The golden hair had fallen down again, covering much of the girl’s face except her mouth, turned in profile to me; I saw a faint curvature to it, like one testing a wound. For a long while Jennalaide said nothing, sitting so while my silence hung in the air…then, gingerly,
Because it is good to be so. I would have sworn in my wrath it could never have been so, not in the House of Cheval, not among the de la Mare brood. They carry the blood of my house on their heads, and all this wretched while I have hated them as only woman can hate, dying inside of the thirst of it. Then God Almighty laughed and shook the pillars of the heavens, and he threw down that devil’s cub to me. I thought he should have fallen like lightning, but—” her voice snagged on something sharp and ragged “—he came to me like rain.”

Dammerung straightened of a sudden and got to his feet. “Poor Simon! You want it answered and tidied up at once, for you are walking in the black and the white of youth.” He looked down at me with something inexplicably soft in his harsh, bony features. “One day you will learn that even justice takes time.”

"I may give ground, but I never back away."

"MY LORD, I AM TRYING. You are asking me to do a thing which Christ himself did not accomplish until after his resurrection!"
"Is not now after the resurrection?" Achim Funderberk replied coolly. And, when I bit my tongue to dull the sharpness of it, he smiled. "Then you should be able to do it."

a happy new year to you all! xoxo, jenny penslayer

Confessions From A First World Author

lookit me, i'm writing a blog post!

If you have been a writer + on the internet for any length of time, you've probably noticed a distinct clique has grown up around the concept of "writers."  Typically we're introverted, bookish, possibly nerdy folk who for some immature reason think "how to build a bomb" is funny in our search history.  Lots of people around me pin gobs of writing-related quotes on Pinterest, they scour the internet for inspirational images that kind-of-sort-of resemble characters that they may-or-may-not mean to write one day, & they read copious amounts of books.

I will be one of the first people to tell you that I think reading is almost essential to good writing, but here's the thing.

i am not a bookworm
This is true, & this is not a negative-brag post, as if I expected everyone to cheer me on in my negativity.  No, this is just a simple fact.  I have never been a fast reader, I have always been picky, & I have always been impatient.  By + large, I've always rather hated research - a source of personal dismay when I see so many of my contemporaries chasing after research like a duck on a june-bug.

For me, however, reading can be a real strain.  Not only does it take a lot to catch + hold my fancy, a book also has to go up against my inability to sit still for any length of time, lengthening the time it takes me to finish a book by ridiculous proportions.  I don't like reading for reading's sake; I like reading for the sake of the content/execution.  The number of books I read in a twelvemonth is so easy to keep track of that I've given up keeping track, because such a small number grows depressing after awhile when one is bombarded by the idea of the internet author scarfing down books by the fistful.

literary peer pressure is totally a thing

Here's a part of me which is not painted so glowy-white: I am susceptible to the self-esteem issues inadvertently imposed on me by people who can actually read at a decent pace.  This is (one reason) why I don't usually post book reviews, or even tell you what I'm reading (Old Paths by J.C. Ryle & Gone With the Wind by le duh Margaret Mitchell): because there's usually nothing to tell.  I read at a snail's pace, with all the frequency of Haley's comet coming round, & the maddening pickiness of my mother's cat who is half-starved & is too particular to eat the enormous array of options presented for her well-being. It's a wonder I actually read anything to completion, at my rate. 

the end

[there is no moral to this story. i wanted it to make you feel better about yourself if a) you happen to be like me, or b) are better than i am at reading & therefore superior.]

December || It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

i love christmastime.  

I used to think people who started decking the halls for Christmas right after Halloween were crazy, but now I don't mind because time goes by SO fast, I want to enjoy Christmas as long as possible.  (Yes, maybe you dislike the "rampant commercialization" of Christmas, but that's nothing new & that's living in a capitalist economy, folks!  That whole argument is not a fight I want to put a dog in because I'm too busy enjoying Christmas.)

Except...not?  The past three years have been horrendous duds for Christmas.  This is not something I like to admit because I'm afraid people will think I'm blaming them.  No, it's not their fault.  The past three years have seen some massive changes in my life, coinciding with Christmas, & they've just been really hard to handle - especially when they've been coupled with physical pain + depression.  Not really conducive to festive cheer! 

This year is one of those three, & while I'm working hard to push off the encroaching ennui, it's lingering there.  I haven't had any complications with this pregnancy (thank the Lord!), but in many ways it has been enormously harder than my first.  My body is just. plain. exhausted.  It's already begun telling me "no" to simple tasks, like picking up my daughter.  Very discouraging, when I have a month left to go! 

So, now writing = I can't even, & blogging = likely not.  I am glad I have the kind of "job" that I can just stop when the going gets too rough.  Right now, the going is really rough.  I've been dithering about posting this for several weeks, but now's the time.  I am in survival mode (translation: napping all the time).  This hiatus is unofficially scheduled to end or be punctuated whenever, as I may randomly conjure post ideas when I'm under no obligation to write them, & I may even get crazy + switch out a naptime with some writing.  Anyway, The Penslayer will show up in your blog feed if that's the case.

it's been nice knowing you O____o

YES! Your Shockingly Simple Guide to Being Impossibly Awesome

cait drews writes a 50,000+ word novel in 3 days

mirriam neal draws a practically perfect tiger, having never drawn one before in her life

It's REALLY ANNOYING, ISN'T IT??  You've all got at least one friend who can just do something that you consider impossible, & they get it right.  You're partly happy for them, but mostly you feel like an itty-bitty insignificant bug & no it's not their fault but gee you don't amount to much compared to their accomplishments, right?

can you ever measure up?

Well, no.  I've heard it said that "comparison is the thief of joy," & it is.  (I haven't yet conquered this problem, but I recognize that it's a problem.)  All our art is measured by our own level of achievement, not someone else's.  Even Peter, when he started pointing fingers at John & saying "what about him," got the clapback from Jesus, "what does that matter? YOU follow me."  All artists are trying to become "better," & even when someone is, from your point of view, impossibly better at something than you are, just chill: you're not on their road, & how you get along is what matters.

but can you get from bleh to impossibly awesome?

You totally can!  And I'm not even selling anything!  The problem is, we're looking at where we are & where they are, & the distance seems - is - impossible to cross.  I just can't write 50,000 words in three days.  I can't draw a peacock in full flight & have it look breath-taking.  For me, it is legitimately impossible & no amount of pinterest pep-talk is going to change that.

the incremental upward

Take any aspect of growth - exercise, art, spiritual improvement - & you can see right off the bat that punctuated equilibriums are rare if not out of the question.  I can't go from physically unable to do push-ups, to churning out thirty at a go.  Duh.  I haven't built up to that level.  I can't go from scribbling a few paragraphs every few days to buckling down + vomiting up a full-sized novel in the span of time Jesus was in the tomb.  Not happening!  I am not that kind of magic.  (if i was, i would totally be doing it right now) I can't go from struggling/failing daily with this body of sin to being holy as my Father is holy just like BLAM halo + all.  Like all human beings, I'm a progressive creature: sudden catapults into perfection do not happen.

The key.  ||  Stop looking at the far distance in relation to where you are.  Look at your art just as you would look at an exercise regimen.  Where you begin may be pitifully small, but at the moment that's all you can do The trick is to work + build + increase.

the impossible is only impossible because we want to be there now

And it just doesn't work like that.  You have to build up to it.  Cait Drews worked hard to teach herself how to "sprint" write, a process which took time, & now enables her to write lots of words for long stretches of time.   She built up to it.  Mirriam Neal had never drawn a tiger in her life, but she has taught herself how to "see" a drawing & to communicate an image through her motor skills.  She built up to it.

There isn't anything massively special about Cait or Mirriam (sorry, guys!) which prevents you from achieving the impossible too.  You have only to accept that you can't get from here to there in a shot: it takes incremental improvement to achieve.  

but once you've done it, look at what you can do! <3