Friday, January 26, 2007

Ora et Labora and leave the house

As a writer I've held to two credos. Writing begets writing which means keep yourself glued to your computer and apply yourself - and Ora et Labora, work and pray - and as a Calvinist, a little heavy on the work, thank you very much. Writing is hard. It is solitary. It requires sacrifices both socially and physically. Then, six months ago, I sat at my computer to brainstorm some new book ideas . . . and froze.

This is a novel concept for me because until I switched to my Mac computer, the situation was usually reversed. But I couldn't re-boot out of this freeze. I scribbled, I read, I watched movies but nothing. No inspiration. No new ideas. For the past ten years I had spilled out stories and now the well was empty. My career was over. Time to fill out that IGA application form.This is a lousy situation for a writer to find herself.

I knew I should be praying about this - I am, after all, a writer who professes faith in God and salvation through Christ. I trust that if not a hair can fall from my head without his will, surely an idea can fall into that same head? Yet in spite of my fears of the end of a career, I struggled with the concept that God should be intrested in my lack of ideas when Somalia, Iraq and persecution in China are, I am sure, taking up a lot of His attention. At the same time I felt that writing was still my place in the Kingdom, so I caved and in my daily devotions, asked God for some ideas. And I applied myself even harder to my craft. I stayed home and concentrated on the writing. I pushed away all distractions. I kept myself isolated so I could focus. I finished up my current contract trying not to panic because I had no new ideas hence, no new work. And I prayed.

In an inferior novel my prayers would have borne fruit and I would have been inspired and come up with some whopper novel treatments. But the brain freeze continued. So I surrendered. I put aside the hunt for new ideas. I turned my focus outward.I stepped out of my construction zone and out of my house. I got involved in a few other people's lives. Really listened (and not with the intention of 'borrowing' what I heard).

And my world opened up. My mind expanded. My prayers became ones of obedience and moving away from my concern for myself. And, to my pleased surprise, a germ of an idea formed as I sat in a meeting. The another one while listening to a sermon. (Sorry Pastor Randy) and as the ideas gently grew, I realized that in order to write about life, life must be lived. Writing may beget writing, but truly living life begets better writing.

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