Monday, September 15, 2014

First One in the Lake

Being first up to write honestly about the dark night of my writing soul is a bit like being the first one in the lake at the beginning of summer.

I stand at the end of the dock, warmed by the June sun on my shoulders and squint into the glint off the water. It's a lovely picture, but if the lake is still deceptively frigid, the cold will squeeze my lungs with an iron fist.

Here's the funny thing: I thought I'd been honest all along. Now, poised to jump, I recognize that in the name of not being labeled ungrateful, faithless, a quitter (that one really stings), too circumspect, a party-pooper, or unworthy, perhaps not called at all or even talented, I barely know where to start with this truth business.

Perhaps it's enough to know I'm tempted to take a job at Taco Bell, clear the bookshelves of all writing books, and convert my office into (gasp!) a TV room with a futon. In other words, remove all that reminds me that I didn't live up to my potential.

The boxes of unsold books must go, too.

And yet, I write most days, plugging away at a story I'm convinced is absolute dreck. Still, I can't help but marvel at the accumulation of pages each day, and when I read from the beginning (as I just did), I'm surprised that the story is not quite as awful as I'd feared. But not as good as I'd hoped, either.

If storytelling were a drug, I would be a junkie.

It makes no practical sense for me to continue writing. I'm in debt to myself (actually my husband, but he doesn't keep track of these things like I do) for the release of my last book. Also, I'm an extrovert craving the company of people other than made-up characters. And I fear that my precious time on earth is being squandered dreaming up plot points, distilling a phrase to the most concise word, and researching the sound of waves under a pier.

There are lost people out there. Hungry people. Enslaved people. Angry people. Doesn't God

Cookies, as promised.


Megan Sayer said...

I hear you. Telling the truth IS hard, especially when the truth isn't quite what you think everyone wants to hear - and especially when you're the first one saying it.
I told the truth to my pastor once. Told him that I didn't think God was particularly close at all, or very useful in my life. And then I sat there while the enormity of what I'd said sunk in - I was in leadership for crying out loud, people in church leadership aren't allowed to say such things!!
But here's what happened...after the enormity of my confession wore off I realised that my pastor wasn't angry, and my confession had broken something in my own spirit, and suddenly, without any hoo ha or fuss, I felt the tangible presence of God, and I knew beyond the shadow of doubt that He was there, and as powerful as can be.
Funnily enough, as a direct result of that conversation with my pastor, I then gave up writing for about seven years. I edited other people's books, taught a few good folks the craft. Best thing I ever did, although I didn't know that at the time. I thought I'd never be back, yet here I am, and better, wiser, humbler for it.
Doesn't God...? Doesn't God use people like goldsmiths, and carpenters? Doesn't God, in the deep bowels of the OT, call musicians and workers of bronze and metal to build His temple? All the jewels and things that get mentioned - doesn't He use the miners or prospectors to get them, too? Doesn't He use the storytellers to tell stories that help set people's enslaved hearts free?
I love your honesty. Please don't read that as anything but an encouragement to be as honest as you like. Give up! Go sell all your writing books, go buy the biggest plasma TV you can find, and spend so much time watching NCIS reruns that you develop an American accent (see? I bet you already did!!) and your kids start calling you "mom". You know what'll happen if you do?
Nah, neither do I. But it'd be fun to find out, right? :) I know full well that God loves you fit to bust, and no amount of giving up or plasma TVs will change that, and I also know that in your honesty you will draw closer to Him, and when you are drawing closer to Him you will write, and in that place you will write stuff that changes people's lives, because you will be writing honestly, and allowing your honesty to draw them closer to Him as well.
Sorry. Didn't mean to preach at you. Ummm...

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

^^^ What she said. :)

Also, we love you.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Doesn't God also choose to serve through "those who sit and click" (that's Philip Yancey, I believe)?

In all honesty, I don't know that a true storyteller could quit. Even if a writer does get that job at Taco Bell, she would find ways to make little notes on the Fire Sauce packets. So, go ahead, make a couple of chalupas...if nothing else, it might give you a few character ideas.

It's in you.

And I'm mighty glad it is.

Anonymous said...

You're all amazing. We're so glad you're here. Thank you for your deep insight, Megan. For your "Unity" with us, Karen and Susie.

Marcia Lee Laycock said...

This post is blank after the phrase "doesn't God". How do I find the rest!? I must know the end! :0

Anonymous said...

Marcia, that is how all the new Novelmatters posts will end. You supply the last words. . .