Bookshelves and Ramblings

I just bought another bookshelf. Supposedly it is for my movies and other odds and ends. We all know it is going to house the books spilling over from my other bookshelf. Why else would I buy one? It is very pretty (thanks dad for putting it together). It will be even prettier when I have books on it. Obviously.

Somehow, somewhere in the back of my head, I was convinced that moving to this house would make me a better writer, a more organized person, and less stressed. Feel free to laugh all you want, I know it is ridiculous.

I leave dishes in the sink all. of. the. time. Sometimes I forget to switch the laundry and end up with damp clothes in the morning. It is a constant battle to keep my room clean, something I don’t remember dealing with quite so much before I moved out.

I don’t know if I thought I would have more time, or if I thought living alone would kick start those creative juices. Either way, I was wrong. Writing is still hard. I probably have less time for it than before, since there are dishes in the sink and school to do. I am the exact same person I was before I moved, just in a different location.

The same woman who forgets about the tea bags in her mugs until they dry and scatters books around her whole house in various stages of completion. Like supposing a new bookshelf will change how I organize my house but really won’t, I supposed a new location would change me.

My whole life I have wanted to be different. I figured that if I could only wear the perfect outfit, move to a different town, or switch churches, I would be different. That somehow I could escape the things I didn’t like about myself if I just moved far enough away. What if I went to England? Obviously I would be more confident, prettier, and a better writer there. It’s England for crying out loud! Well, I feel bound to inform you that I did not swap personalities just by crossing the ocean.

It kind of sounds depressing, doesn’t it? Here I am. Wherever I go, I come too. It doesn’t matter where my desk is, the same insecurities will show up whenever I start writing.

I could stop there. Live my life moping over the fact that I can’t change who I am because I put a new dress. I don’t want to do that. Life is hard enough without crying over the impossible.

Here is my thought, if moving won’t change what I want changed, what will? Unfortunately, the same thing that has been staring at my face for the last four years. Hard work!

And everyone makes a face.

If I want to be an author, a fancy desk and a library will not make me one, a book will. A book that I wrote. If I want to be healthier, getting a new fridge or a new cookbook will not automatically make me so. Healthy eating and exercise (blech) will.

This isn’t to say that moving out didn’t change me at all, I am much better at cooking now (I think), and way better at sticking to my to do list. I am a better person for all these experiences, but not necessarily a different person. If I want to change things about myself, I will have to put in the work to do it.

Maybe I won’t like every step of the journey, but I know I will like the destination.

Hello me, are you ready?

Shaina Merrick

My Beautiful Story

This last weekend was graduation weekend! Friends from college and from high school all graduated, and celebrated their graduation, in the same weekend. Guys. Spread it out a little!

Anyway. Graduations mean that we are celebrating the graduate and what they have done. Surviving school and finals for example. Often when I go to a graduation I come away feeling a little depressed.

These highschoolers have done so much with their four years. They traveled, wrote books, competed in sports events, won medals. The list goes on! And what have I done in my last four years? Survived? Made a friend or two? Sigh.

Yet this year, I didn’t think that way. I looked at each of the new graduates, and was able to say that what they did was awesome. And so is what I have done.

It is possible to say that each of our stories are wonderful, beautiful even. It is possible to say that what these highschoolers have done is amazing. As well as be proud of what I have done as well.

Man, I wish I had learned that earlier!

Wish that I had realized that my story is beautiful. I love how my story has played out. No, it hasn’t all been peaches and cream. But I love it all the same.

The things I have done, the things I have learned. I wouldn’t replace any of it. Not for the most exciting life you can think of.

Shaina Merrick

And I Return/Sad Stories?

Did you miss me? Whether or not you did is immaterial. The point is that I am back from my short and unannounced hiatus. So unannounced in fact that even I wasn’t aware that it was going to happen, until it happened. *cough* No no, this is not procrastination at its finest. This is me spontaneously deciding to take a break.

Right.

Anyway. We will now return to the regularly scheduled, once a week posts that are talking about something other than my collection of short stories. I, for one, am relived.

So, the other day I was wandering around Barnes and Noble. Because I am the type of person to do such a thing. And as I was wandering around and reading the backs of various books that caught my eye, I began to realize something. Slowly, like the sun dawning over the mountain. Yet it wasn’t the bright light of an epiphany. It was like a cloud stealing over an otherwise beautiful moon rise.

The books that have been coming out recently are dark. In the YA section alone there are books about drugs, suicide, death, breakups (lots and lots of break ups), and terrible families. Not all of the books promise a happy ending. Some of them promise that the characters will die in the end. And this is only the YA section. I can only imagine what the adult section holds. More of all the above?

Even just reading the blurbs of all these books was making me feel depressed. And not just because the content was depressing. I was sad because this is what people are reading.

Even more, people are willing to spend hours, days, weeks, months of their lives writing these books. Which means that they lived and breathed that story in all its sadness.

Why would anyone choose to put that upon themselves?

There is no quick answer to this. You see, we read books for two reasons. To escape our world, and to learn something more about our world.

For most people, escapism is no longer enough. We want to understand why things are the way they are. We can’t be fooled by the Disney endings anymore. People die from cancer, from car accidents, from war. The people who are supposed to get together don’t always find each other. True love doesn’t always win.

And we want to know why.

So we turn to books that attempt to give the answers. The books that don’t pull punches, the ones that don’t pretend it is all right. Because it isn’t. Things in this world are obviously not right.

I agree. I don’t want to be lied to. Don’t tell me that it will all work out when it may not.

Yet. Where does that leave me? More knowledge perhaps, maybe some answers. But knowledge means nothing when life still hurts. When hope is gone.

I don’t want to stop there. And I am afraid that is where we have stopped. As readers, as writers. We have stopped at the answers, stopped at the realism. When that isn’t all there is.

There is something beyond all this. There has to be. Otherwise nothing would make sense. We are all living in a world that stops at what we see. The pain, the hurt, that is all there is. Nothing else exists.

How hopeless that is! Why would I settle for an existence like that?

I refuse. I know there is more to life that what I see. There has to be.

Thank goodness there is.

There is more to life than pain and a meaningless existence. I know that I was created for a purpose. There is a reason why I am here. A reason beyond making money and then dying.

That reason is not to find my happily ever after. My One and Only. If I never got married I would still have a reason to exist. If I never got rich. If I never traveled again.

My meaning is tied up in the One who has counted every hair on my head. On the One who died on the cross for my sins. My purpose is to give the One all the thanks and all the glory I can possibly give. That purpose doesn’t change no matter where I go and what I do.

So why in the world would I write books that stop at this life? That stop at the answers. There is more to life than this. I know it. So I will write it.

As a Christian writer I will not stop at the pain. I will move on to the hope. I will not pull the punches, but I will give the answers and the hope. I will not always give happy endings, but most of the time I will. Because I believe that heaven is the perfect happy ending.

Life is hard. I know that. In my books I will strive not to give escapism, but meaning. Meaning that goes beyond what I see and feel.

Because there is more to life than this.

Shaina Merrick