I am so thrilled to introduce you to FaithWriters member, Lynn Diener. I met Lynn at the very first FaithWriters conference and she’s such a sweetheart. (I’m doubly thrilled that she’ll be at this year’s conference!). Lynn is a wife, mom, and award-winning writer. Join me in learning a little more about her.
LYNDA: Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
LYNN: I’ve been married to my generally wonderful husband for 12 years now. He’s a perfectionist so it keeps him humble if add a qualifier to his wonderfulness. Perfectionists on ego trips are hard to live with. (But it goes both ways, he keeps me humble, too.)
We live in northern Indiana with our three children. Our son is six and growing in wisdom and stature a little too quick for my liking at times, but I couldn’t be prouder. He’s a great kid.
We also have two daughters who just turned three. Yes, that means they’re twins, but every day I am reminded that just because they happened to come from the same womb, doesn’t mean they are duplicates. And they put all kinds of miscon-twin-ceptions to rest daily.
We also have a cat who tolerates our children solely based on their tendency to overfeed him.
LYNDA: When did the “writing bug” hit?
LYNN: I suppose the first wave was in fourth grade. We were asked to write our own stories which would be “published” (which meant it was *professionally* bound with a plastic comb binding and each page was laminated). Mine was about a princess and the handsome prince that rescued her. It even had an author’s biography on the back page. Mine expressed my adoration for the King of Pop, his pop music highness, Mr. Michael Jackson.
Between fourth grade and graduating college, there was a lot of journal writing, a few fun anecdotal stories written for family and friends, and lengthy e-mails. When college graduation loomed, and all those questions started coming, I began to wonder what I would do with my life and my Women’s Studies degree. (My husband joked that I could be a very educated burger-flipper.)
After much soul-searching and praying, I felt God calling me to be a writer, though this searching took me the better part of five years. I thought, “Could God call me to writing like some are called to be missionaries?” And the more I prayed about it, the more I knew that writing was a calling on my life.
I even spent a year with a Spiritual Director to clarify the calling, to dig into it deeper. I spent the year with her praying about how I should pursue it and how it should be manifested.
Around the same time, I joined FaithWriters, and a whole new world opened up to me.
LYNDA: Speaking of FaithWriters, you’ve placed in the top 10 of the FaithWriters Weekly Writing Challenge several times. Do you have a favorite entry, placing or non?
LYNN: My personal favorite is Scorned. That entry was about a manuscript that had enough of being ignored and passed over for other things. So much of what I write tends to be serious and heavy and that was a blast. And I got to play with humor which is always a treat, and for some reason, not so readily- accessible when I write.
But I have to admit, for the most part, there is always a favorite moment in every Challenge piece I write. There are exceptions to that rule, but I tend not to enter the Challenge unless it pulls at me. And if there’s a story pulling at me, there will normally be at least one part of it that holds me while I write and it sticks with me afterwards.
LYNDA: You also were recently the 3rd Place Winner in the Inspirational Category of the Writer’s Digest 79th Annual Writing Competition, and took 83rd Place in the Genre Short Story Category. Now that’s impressive! Share a little about your winning story and how it felt to find out you did so well in this prestigious contest.
LYNN: The story, Midwife to Christmas, is a retelling of the birth of Christ through the eyes of a midwife that in my story was there to deliver Christ.
The idea of being the first one to hold Christ, for his fragile life to be in human hands, intrigued me. Because isn’t that what we do in life? We are the bearers of Christ to others and the tenuous delivery rests in part on us and in part on God’s grace and ability to work through us to make it a safe delivery, one that allows Christ to live and to be embraced by another.
This story was one that was rolling around in my mind for years before I decided to get it on paper for this contest. And while I knew that a first-timer in this contest had very little chance of even making the top 100, I wasn’t about to turn in a story churned out in haste.
I spent months researching everything I could about the birth of Christ and what the culture was like then, and what Jewish traditions and rituals there were concerning midwifery and birth. And in the course of the research learned about the Jewish holiday Sukkot, or the Feast of the Tabernacles, which is plausibly the time of year when Christ might have been born. And because of the research, I feel like I was able to walk the fine line between what is known of Christ’s birth and the fictional telling of it.
Though I worked very hard on the story, I really didn’t expect it to do well. Statistically, it just didn’t seem possible. I did it as an act of bravery. I needed to work up the courage to expose my writing to more than just the FaithWriters’ pool, as wonderful as that pool is. So no one was more surprised than me to see the story do so well.
LYNDA: How do you balance your work as a freelancer and your home life?
LYNN: I’m not sure I do very well at balancing it. Right now, my kids are watching Bubble Guppies while I answer these questions. But I have to believe intention means a lot, and working towards that intention means more, and then I trust God to fill in the gaps my parenting leaves.
Because I feel called to be a good partner to my husband, I can’t ignore him and dump things on him when he gets home. But sometimes that’s what happens. And he does it graciously, because he loves me and supports my call to write. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
With my children, I try to remember that their life at home is fleeting, so when possible, I’ll put the laptop away and play, or hold, or read to them.
This often means that my time for writing is done at the edges of the day. I think I heard Maya Angelou put it that way, that she used to write at the edges of the day. I keep thinking if Ms. Angelou could write when she had small children, and had many more obstacles in her way than I have, then I can write, too.
LYNDA: What do you like to do for fun?
LYNN: Sleep. Make and eat really good food. Watch all kinds of movies. Read really good fiction, sometimes non-fiction. And occasionally, I get crafty.
LYNDA: What project(s) are you working on now?
LYNN: I am waist-deep in edits/revisions on a novel I started writing back in 2009 during NaNoWriMo. My aim is to have it ship-shape for the FaithWriters Page Turner Contest this fall.
It’s the story of young woman in 1968, who is forced to surrender her baby for adoption. She must learn how to hold onto faith, though it was the church and Christians who took her child from her. And she must rediscover her identity in Christ in order to help other women like herself.
In addition to my novel revisions, I am blogging at my website: http://www.facebook.com/l/b819dho5LH9IpiBm97fjvNHk4zQ/www.dldiener.com. And, I am delighted to be part of two blogging teams, Jewels of Encouragement and The Barn Door.
I’m also working, and succeeding in small doses, at getting some of my non-fiction printed for pay.
Thank you so much, Lynda. I’m honored to be part of this, and feel so blessed to be part of the FaithWriters community.
LYNDA: Thank you, Lynn, for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview. I know God has great things in store for you and your writing. And I can’t wait to see you in August!
Check out Lynn’s FaithWriters profile