Thursday, February 15, 2007

Welcome Sharon Hinck

Hey everyone. Today I have a guest, Sharon Hinck. She’s the author of the Secret Life of Becky Miller and her latest book, Renovating Becky Miller.

In addition to being a young mom, Becky Miller is a daydreamer. Most recently, she’s been envisioning herself in the happy endings she sees during her weekly movie nights with husband Kevin. But her real life feels more like a broken filmstrip, spinning out of control!

When Becky and her family decide to purchase a rundown farmhouse, Becky pictures a slower, simpler lifestyle in the pastoral countryside. Of course, it doesn’t quite work out like she imagined . . . .

Regular readers of my blog know that I have, um, “adventures.” Sometimes they’re of my kids’ making, sometimes they’re my own. Sometimes they involve home improvement (here too). With that in mind, did the inspiration for Becky Miller come from the collision of motherhood and writing in your own life, or is she strictly imaginary, or some composite?

Friends know that I’m always having adventures – and that went on even before I had children to blame it on! Once we had children, the “adventures” increased exponentially. As did the internal pressures to “get it right.” Becky’s storylines are fictional, but her juggling act is VERY familiar to me.

I love this section: “I was a full time mom. And I loved it. Except when it drove me crazy. My children were magnificent, bewildering creations gifted to me from the Almighty. Except when they were tormenting me like gleeful gargoyles wielding red-hot pokers.” Which made me wonder, how do you juggle being a mom and writer? And have any of your children tried to burn the house down with a toaster while you were writing? (Or is that just me?)

Okay, I have to confess that I’m the one who starts the most fires. I put eggs on to boil then wander off to check my email…and don’t come up for air until the smoke alarm goes off a half-hour later. I’m also entering that wonderful age where I go downstairs to get something, but then can’t remember why I went downstairs. The kids help – by mocking me. I’m always losing my cup of tea (usually where I’ve left it – reheating in the microwave).

I wrestle a lot with the things I’m not good at as a mom, since I’m expending a lot of energy and time in writing. On the other hand, all four of my kids are passionate about the arts – music, drama, writing, photography, composing, singing. We’ve had some great conversations about the challenge of serving God through the arts. So in some ways my artistic life can bring blessing to my parenting life. (But pray for my dear husband – surrounded by a wife and four children who are ALL artists. Poor man. We sure keep his life interesting.)

I haven’t been on the sports booster club for school, but I’ve choreographed school musicals. I didn’t drive for grade-school field trips, but I talked to classes for reading week. I rarely bake cookies, but I listen to my daughter’s plot-threads for her latest story or play piano duets with my son. I’m not measuring up to my picture of “The Good Mom,” but I’m learning that picture can be a harmful myth.

I struggle with that too. One of Becky’s issues is an overloaded schedule that makes her feel like she’s rushing constantly and being pulled in different directions. I think we can all relate to that. Did you come up with any secret solutions while writing this that you’d like to share?

One thing Becky taught me, as I watched her journey in Renovating Becky Miller, is that we take on responsibilities to fix things that aren’t our job to fix. In each situation, we have an opportunity to bring our small part of grace to the needs we see. But that doesn’t mean it’s all up to us to make others happy, or solve every issue. God really is big enough (and the ONLY ONE big enough) to handle the needs we see around us. That spoke to me. I used to see my tiny contributions as failures, since they only helped a little – and didn’t fix the whole problem. Now I’m beginning to see that sometimes God has called me to that one little piece, and He has other people in the body to contribute other pieces.

That's so true and yet so hard for us to remember. I love this part of your bio: ‘My favorite college and community theatre role was as Luisa in “The Fantastiks” where in an opening monologue the character prays, “Please, God, please. Don’t let me be normal.” I think God answered my prayer...’ Writers are some of my favorite people to hang out with because they aren’t normal, because their combination of verbal skills and imagination can create some of the most interesting conversations. What experiences have you had talking with ‘normals’ where they looked at you like you were out of your mind?

Hee hee! Great question. My small group women’s Bible study (affectionately known as The Church Ladies) have informed me that my mind is a weird and scary place. But they encourage me to be who God made me (as a “not normal”) because they’ve been blessed by that. Come to think of it, maybe that’s just because they find it so reassuring to see how much more normal they are by comparison! They DO think it’s weird when I come to our Bible study worried about a character that’s in trouble. I’ll explain that I have to hurry home to finish a scene, because I don’t want to leave the character in that dilemma for too long.

Generally they give me a cup of tea and pat my shoulders, and remind me that my characters are fictional.

I’ve worked in the arts all my life, and there is certainly a heightened degree of “not normal” that goes along with the sideways view of life and the desire to express deep things. However, I’ll let you in on a secret. Each of us is so unique, and reflects such specific and amazing aspects of God’s nature – that no one is normal. And I’m delighted by that.

Good, then I'm in good company. Thanks for being with us, Sharon.

Thank YOU so much for inviting me to stop by! This was a really fun chat! I hope your kids stop setting your toaster on fire – but I hope life never gets too normal for you.
Hugs, Sharon

Jen here. If you want to win an autographed copy of Renovating Becky Miller leave a comment and I'll draw names next Friday. You can also leave a comment even if you don't want to win ;)

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