“No one can help you if you’re stuck in a work. Only you can figure a way out, because only you see the work’s possibilities.” –Annie Dillard.
I am not much of an adventurer – those who are close to me understand although I may have an adventurous imagination, I am dangerously cautious. I will probably never be a mountain climber, and I have a big fear of ledges and cliffs.
My husband really enjoys jumping off of high cliffs and edges of rock into lakes and pools of water, and always tries to convince me that I would really enjoy it. However, every time I try to jump I freeze at the end of the rock, looking down at my feet, knowing deep in my gut that this sort of recklessness will never be appealing to me.
There is a sort of recklessness I have found to be enlivening, dangerous, and something that takes large amounts of courage and commitment—the journey of writing.
I recently came out of the closet to my small group of peers about this book I have been working on for a long time. When I say that I “came out of the closet as a writer,” Nick likes to joke that, literally, I was hiding in one of our closets typing away where no one could see me. It’s pretty close to the truth.
I live in a town filled with amazing creatives; people here are always inventing, writing music, blogging, authoring recipes, sewing, crafting, painting. I felt like announcing that I was secretly building this story that I thought was amazing and that I was so passionate about would just add to all the creative noise. It is a beautiful noise, but it is SO loud–and I am very, very quiet.
I have found that by talking about the story I am working on, that my small group of peers have been immensely supportive and encouraging—and it motivates me to complete this work…
…which will take a lot of bravery.
Not the kind of bravery that is found in the hearts of self-sacrificing heroes and mothers and such, but the kind that it takes to reread your work and realize that after the story is all mapped out in your little word document on your computer, that you are going to have to go back and rewrite it all before it will be finished. It takes the courage to fail, to not be perfect, and to just enjoy what you are creating for the heck of it.
Why am I talking about all of this? Well, it turns out I had set a goal for myself (a very small, 5 pages a week goal) to make headway on completing this story, and I freaked myself out. I haven’t written in 3 weeks, and I am writing this post in order to get back in the groove of banging words out on my computer keyboard.
I am scared to jump off that ledge. I think I am afraid of not being able to complete something that I so much want to be completed.
And then, I remember telling my friends about the story and how excited they are to read it once it is finished, and it motivates me again. It is a good story, and someone should read it.
Besides, it would be nice for some more people to read about the characters I have been spending so much time with, and even crying over.
Literally, I was crying after I finished this one scene and experienced so much empathy for the character involved. I felt a little crazy.
This one character (mentioned above) is experiencing poor life circumstances and emotional turmoil. It makes me really sad. However, as the author, I know how awesome the ending of the story is for her… I am sorrowful with her at this point in the story, but I cannot wait for joys that lie ahead for this girl.
Back to the mountain climbing thing… I have never stuck with a piece for this long, let alone worked on one so diligently. Even if no one ever reads it or likes it or publishes it, I have built up some serious endurance muscles that I never knew were available to me. That, my friends, has been worth the entire journey so far.
I so much admire my friends and peers who have completed albums, sewed whole dresses and gowns, helped create movies and documentaries, and written books and screenplays. I think they know something of this journey, this mountain climb, and any advice is welcomed. I hope to eventually join that breed of people that finishes something that they started, that they wanted to start.
Writing a long piece of work (I don’t like to call it a novel, or book, or anything like that yet cause that weirds me out for some reason) kind of feels like an adventure. It is an adventure of the mind, but an adventure nonetheless. It is reckless and/or dangerous because it could all end up being pointless…
I feel like Frodo carrying this heavy burden around my neck that I have taken on responsibility for, and must shoulder it until completion. I have this incredible picture in my mind of climbing up a snowy mountain in some New Zealand landscape (think the Lord of the Rings movies)… and that is my writing journey. Can I climb this mountain? Should I climb this mountain? Do I have the proper gear and resources to climb this mountain and complete my task?
Can I write this story? Should I write this story? Do I have the proper gear and resources to write this story? I guess I will find out.
And even if only a very small percentage of the population finds the work of my imagination interesting or entertaining, that’s okay by me. My friend Lauren St. Marie is a very, very creative country music songwriter, and often says she thinks in country songs (which I completely believe–this girl is an original, out of the box thinker). She and I had a conversation one day where we decided we should stop worrying about what “every one” would think about what we created, and start being concerned with writing/creating for that small percentage of an audience that would actually appreciate it. I should stay focused on that.
And one more thing, my Kirsten Joyner mentioned she has heard of authors grieving with their characters, being empathetic with and emotionally involved with their work/characters/creative work.
This, as a Christian, brings me great joy. Why?
Well, I firmly believe the world and my life itself is a creative work of a Loving God’s masterful hand. How deep is the Father’s love for us? I will never know the full depth. I think it’s off my radar. However, I think this emotional connection with a creative work helps me sort of get a glimpse of how big and unusually full of grace His love really is.
He is empathetic with our stories/lives. He knows what is in store for His characters, and I believe He grieves with us when we grieve and are sorrowful. This earth is a temporary place, and can be very trying. However, He is writing the story— even our current trials—but He knows the beauty He has placed ahead of us.
So, at this point this post has completed its goal. I laid some words out in a document, and kind of feel like I can open up that 100+ page word document and keep going. A pause of rest is good, but resolution will feel even better.
To those who read, thanks for reading. It is encouraging.
To those who read and sometimes feel defeated/blocked in their own creativity/creative works/writing… go and create. It is an adventure, and adventure is often laced with difficulty and road blocks. Plus, I am really excited to see what you come up with.