For the past couple of months, I've found myself up against that horrid brick wall that every writer dreads facing: Writer's Block. I've struggled with my own blank brain cells and that "other" bane of a writer's existence commonly known as "real life". Between this 'rock and a hard place' I'm feeling drained, fatigued, and just downright empty.
Ever feel that way?
Nothing makes sense. All the notes I've made for my various projects might as well be written in Greek. Times like these cause me to wonder why I am so committed to writing in the first place. Self-doubt, like any enemy attack, always hits when we are at our most vulnerable, never -- EVER -- when we are strong enough to laugh in its face.
So why DO we write? Unless your name is Stephen King or Danielle Steele, you are most likely NOT writing for the money! Considering the amount of time it takes from conception of the "idea", to research, to execution of the plot, to review, rewrite, correct, rewrite again, then submit to a publisher, more corrections, and finally to market and distribute ----- well, this is probably one of the least paid positions one can aspire to!
Is it for fame? Again, there are ALOT of folks out there writing and marketing their books. I'd love to believe that all of us will land on the best seller list in the next couple of years. But competition is heavy. Maybe we will; maybe we won't. The only One Who knows the answer to that particular question is God, and He doesn't usually tell us too much in advance! (After all, if He let us in on what tomorrow holds, we might not have the courage to get out of bed in the morning...)
I've always loved to write stories. From the time I was old enough to hold a No. 2 pencil, I amused myself by writing adventures. My first literary ventures came about when my Dad was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany in the mid-60's. No television, few friends when we first arrived, and a nasty case of strep throat (acquired aboard ship while crossing the Atlantic) kept me in quarantine for quite some time. So -- I wrote! Humble beginnings, and certainly nothing I'll ever allow to be seen! But God nurtured that little seed which blooms today in my heart.
I shelved my novelistic impulses for many years, reserved the pencils for book reports and pen pal correspondence, and Mom kept those early stories locked safely away with her Mother's Day cards and paper doily Valentines. I had all but forgotten that childish dream until the late '80's. My family had settled in Denver, Colorado. Every year, Denver hosts a huge Sunday School Convention, which encompasses every facet of lay ministry and covers any and every denomination. I signed up for various classes. To this day, I don't remember any of them --- except one. The "Writing for Publication" class caught my eye, but I shook my head and told myself that it would be a waste of my time. I headed for another class in that time slot, only to be met by a note on the door saying "class cancelled". Consulting my list, I chose another class --- and found the same note on THAT door. Rolling my eyes, I grumbled, "Alright, alright, Lord. You don't have to cancel the entire conference to get my attention. I don't know WHY You're insisting, but I'll go."
That was it. I was hooked.
I remember shrieking, crying, laughing, praising, and dancing around the livingroom when I got my first acceptance letter and a check for $20. My first poem sold to a magazine for the Assemblies of God, The Pentecostal Evangel. I'll never forget that feeling. My poetry has always been an intensely personal expression. Sharing it was scary. I felt like I was allowing the world a glimpse into my soul. Then I realized that my soul belongs to Jesus, and if He wanted the world to see inside me --- well, that's His right as my Lord and Savior! If it sounds like it all came easily, I assure you it did NOT! My rejection slips far outweighed the acceptance letters. Someone once said that you know you're a writer when you can wallpaper a room with your rejection notices. Sad but true. But I plowed on for a couple of years and began seeing more and more of my work make it to print. I felt like I had finally found my niche in the Kingdom of God.
Then that "real life" stuff clobbered me, and I don't mean a little slap on the face. I'm talking about knock-down/drag-out warfare, and beaten to a bloody little spiritual pulp. There were several years of parenting difficulties, deaths in our families, frequent moves, stress and division -- and finally divorce. We always think, "...that'll never happen to me." Famous last words. I'll tell you what follows closely on the heels of those words: "What could I possibly have to offer the world? I couldn't even hold my marriage together..."
Don't you ever believe it!
God has proven His diversity --- and His incredible sense of humor! -- over the centuries. If He can use a wanderer's staff, the jawbone of an ass, and a talking donkey, I guess a divorced woman isn't much of a leap! Getting back to my initial question: why do we write? Over the past couple of years, writing has literally saved my sanity, giving me something to focus on besides the pain of a disabling shoulder injury, keeping me from tripping headlong into that pit called self-pity, and exercising a talent that does NOT require physical strength. It has also restored some semblance of value to my life. If I do nothing else in this world, I want to help others see value in their own lives; I want to show people that they are priceless to Almighty God.
Why do you write? Dollar signs? Don't hold your breath! Fame? Fleeting and as illusive as the morning mist.
To give the Lord another tool for His workshop? To help repair the damage souls suffer in this spiritually ravaged world? To hold out hope to weary, defeated people?
Ah, now THERE'S a worthy goal.
Now if someone can just invent a cure for that pesky writer's block....