I’ve been on vacation and started a new job, broke my collar bone playing softball but on the mend, and I’m back on track now. Still working through Donald’s Storyline conference. Last post, I outlined why conflict is good — why it is needed for a story to become great. Although I like to read tragedies, I have no intention of living one. None of us do. We want the conflict we experience to propel us, not squash us.

Therefore, we need to anticipate conflict. And we need to have a plan of action as to how to overcome it.

In Module Five, I’m supposed to list the conflict I will likely face as I head toward my ambition. For each role, I need to outline the challenges I’m most concerned about.

1. Writer: I want to write. I want to get paid to write. I want my writing to matter. I want to influence. I want a say in the world. My writing ambitions are to clarify my blogs and their corresponding audiences so they can find each other and to finish the novel.

Physical challenges: Scheduling! Four daughters in sports, sports, sports. Homeschooling. Elsa’s taking part-time classes and I have to take her there. New job in tutoring. There aren’t enough hours in the day.

Characteristics I Need to Develop: Prioritize. Efficiency. My house still doesn’t have pictures hanging up. Boxes sit collecting dust in the corners. We don’t have a couch in the living room. Why? If I really, really want something, I should sacrifice to get it. I recognize that I am blessed enough to have choices and I must make the right choices. I could sacrifice the homeschooling so I could write. I could sacrifice the kids’ activities so I could write. I could sacrifice having a nice, hospitable home so I could write. I choose sacrificing the pretty, decorated home. I write while I’m in town waiting for the kids to finish. I write in the mornings and the evenings and every other tiny chunk of time that I have. The characteristics I need to develop is decisiveness in my priorities, diligence in pursuing them, and perseverance in the face of rejection.

Financial Challenges: We still need to eat while we pursue our passions. I keep trying to find jobs that support what I love. I’m teaching in a model that reads the classics. I got a writing gig for a magazine. Yeah! I schedule my tutoring during kids’ sports activities so the driving into town is for a job and not just extra activities.

Skill Deficiencies: Social networking. I am extremely task-oriented. I must recognize that my writing is important but it’s people that will connect me to jobs, gigs, publishers, blogs, etc. This is also where I’ll find depth and meaning and beauty. If I can remember to press out into my family’s and friends’ lives and to find time to connect with people, this will give me balance and … perhaps the keys to my future!

Relational Complications: Sometimes I’m tempted to dive into my novel without any distractions. Wholeheartedly, I want to pursue my goals at the expense of everything else. This would be a mistake. It would uproot me. It’s a temptation. Many writers write at the expense of their relationships. I have to remember to live.

2. Wife: I want to be Paul’s best friend and companion. And … I hope to be less critical and more supportive. Let Paul be Paul and me be me. To respect who he is and respect who I am.

Physical challenges: I want to get in shape. Paul actually likes doing things that would get me in shape. Instead, my days are so filled up with running in the morning, playing softball and volleyball at nights, or running the kids around that we rarely have time for long hikes and climbs. Moreover, we live in a beautiful spot, but most hikes are a 45 min. drive. I just don’t relish getting behind the wheel more than I have to.

Characteristics I Need to Develop: I think the main thing is that I need to plan ahead. We have the type of life that “hijacks” what we really want to do. All of sudden, we’re at the gunpoint of immediate emergencies (a tourney, practices, school activity) running in the opposite direction of where we want to go. Perhaps it’s because we have a family of strong individuals who are all vying for their “thing” to be first. So, maybe I need to set boundaries and make sure that activities Paul and I love to do together gets placed first in the schedule.

Financial Challenges: I wonder if I’ll ever wake up in the morning and not feel the knot of fear about how we’re going to get by. I’ve looked our problem over again and again and our financial woes would be solved if I just went and got a good job. But our least favorite year was when I worked full-time. And though we had enough money for everything. I think we really discovered that, for us, it’s not worth it.

Skill Deficiencies: It’s hard for me to plan activities that Paul likes because I’m not the expert at it. I feel insecure about planning things in his area of expertise. I’m willing to go, just reluctant to initiate.

Relational Complications:I believe the relational complications just come from the lack of time. I’m hoping that when Elsa gets her license, we’ll have more free time together.

3. Mother: I’m strong on the teaching side. I could improve on the fun side. Since I’m writing a lot, I’m in deep thought a lot. I want to be present when I’m with them. Remember to greet them with kisses in the morning and bless them with prayers at night. I want to notice when they withdraw and interrupt their thoughts with hugs and listening. I want to partner with them in their growing up, forming their beliefs and attitudes and habits.

Physical challenges: none

Characteristics I need to develop: to just relax and remember what it is like to be a girl. I need to become a girl again sometimes so I can understand what my daughters want and need.

Financial Challenges: too little cash can cause resentment. We need to get our finances simplified and in order. Since Paul has gone into ministry, our cash comes in little bits and pieces. We don’t have a single amount we can budget. I’d like to get to a point where we can budget.

Skill Deficiencies: I’m task-oriented. The girls play for awhile and I ask them if they’ve made their bed. They giggle on the floor and I ask them if they’ve brushed their teeth. They jump down the stairs and I ask them if they’ve started school yet. I need to play sometimes, giggle on the floor, and jump down the stairs. Having me smile and play at times makes the tasks easier.

Relational Complications: Since I broke my collarbone (my right side), I can’t do hardly anything because I’m in a sling. The girls have pitched in wonderfully. I didn’t realize how capable they were. Anyway, just bragging a bit — no relational complications.

4. Friend: I debated between this slot being “daughter” or “sister”, but I was able to solve it with “friend” because my family members are included. Ambitions: This sounds selfish, but I want to receive from these people. I admire them. I want to learn from them. I want to glean what they have to offer. My life involves a lot of producing — writing, homeschooling, teaching, tutoring, cooking, scheduling, etc. My friends offer me a chance to rejuvenate and regenerate.

Characteristics I Need to Develop: Perhaps I just need to slow down, so I have more time for relationships. I hope the speed at which I operate is not just a habit, but a phase of life. I hope that because of the ages of my kids and the activities they are in, because of the homeschooling and my working, I’m not just filling my life up with busyness just because I don’t like to slow down. I want to be able to form deep, lasting friendships.