On Writing, Romance, and the Next Three Months

I don’t often feel like I’m not writing enough. I write all the time, even if I’m not posting it, usually it’s a daily occurrence. I write in my journal (my super awesome leather journal from Emily), composition notebooks (Mieks gave me a bunch before I left the US), scrap paper, on the internet, and everywhere in-between. I make notes to myself, doodle letters and phrases, and find myself irritated when I can’t find scraps of paper to write on. Recently, however, there has been a still, small voice whispering that I wasn’t doing what I ought. I wasn’t blogging. I wasn’t writing my stories that are all pent up inside. I was writing, certainly, but I wasn’t letting out the important stuff.
I’m currently reading Annie F Downs book on bravery, Let’s All Be Brave, and let me tell you, it’s convicting. I don’t think I’ve ever read something that encouraged me and made me feel like I was on the right track while simultaneously convicting me of areas of my life I’ve been blatantly ignoring. Because I’ve been brave. I’ve blindly thrown myself into a different culture, in a job I’ve never done before and found myself stumbling around on roads I thought I’d never traveled. I’ve found myself in the middle of romance and willing to say no, when all I want to do is say yes. I’ve eaten questionable food, had sketchy experiences and God has given me joy that overflows. Shanghai is the bravest thing I’ve done to date. It’s scary, but right for me. I’ve never felt more at peace than when I moved here.
So living here is brave, and Annie totally affirmed that and gave me a pat on the back. “Good job, you moved to China. High five!” But then she started talking about other things and I heard God whispering a familiar thing. It’s what I’ve heard for the past few years but ignored. Because it would be too hard. She talked about letting go and how courage often is shown when you let go of things you’ve been clinging to. And He said, “Books, Nicole. You hold so tightly to them. Do you love them more than you love me? Romances, Nicole. You hide in them. Why won’t you just let go?” And I was undone. I haven’t cried yet, though I’m sure I will. I cried when I finally let go of Tamora Pierce, my sophomore year of college. 
So, dear reader, I will be letting go of all the romance of my life. Books, audiobooks, and movies. Because I hide in those stories. I bury myself under the blankets of Happy Ever After and the ideal man. And coming out of that will be the hardest thing I will ever do. At least at this point of time in my life. It will be harder than leaving the US because I wanted to move to China. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to leave my comfort and be forced to live in the real world. I don’t want to come out of Nora Roberts Land. But I’m going to, because that’s what being brave looks like for me right now. 
God is plucking at my heartstrings and it took me moving halfway across the world to comply with what He wanted. Because, like I said, I’ve been hearing this for years and have just ignored His voice. I’m terrified. Let me put this in perspective for you…
I read (physically read) at least two books a week. I have been listening to books more and more and really, I do it all the time. In the month of September I have listened to 46 hours and 35 minutes. And the month isn’t over yet. I listen to books approximately 6-8 hours a day. Because I am in desperate need of comfort; because I prefer to deal with book reality than my reality; because I’m a shut-in. But for real, it was unnerving to look at my Audible stats and realize that didn’t include my Overdrive time (because I borrow audiobooks from Overdrive and listen to those too). It’s not all I do with my life. I listen while I’m grocery shopping, commuting, cooking, cleaning, sleeping, etc. (I use audiobooks to drift me off to the Shores of Sleep.)
So, during October, I will be bringing back Octoberfest because it’s great and I get in the habit of writing every day. In November I will be participating in NaNoWriMo again (because, guys, I have a werewolf story, and I gotta tell it). And in December…I don’t know what I will be writing, but it will focus on Advent and on a time of waiting. A lot of changes are happening in my life here in Shanghai, but I need to keep writing, to keep blogging, and to keep telling my story. I don’t know if you’re out there, reader. I hope so. But regardless, this is me, being obedient and writing my Shanghai life. It’s me stepping away from my safety blanket of romance and discovering what sort of time it frees up in my life for other things. I hope that you come on my journey with me. It should be very interesting…


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