The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. **Mark Twain

Monday, June 21, 2010

Get out your Map!

I'm sure every traveler at one time or another has looked at another person and demanded, "Where's the map?"  Getting lost isn't fun and wasting time feels even worse. 

I wonder if sometimes we apply the "Aren't we there yet!" mentality to our writing.  It's important to produce work quickly.  It's not cost productive to write one magazine article a year or produce one book every ten years.  In order to consider yourself part of the writing industry - you need to be writing.  Right?

Yes and no.  If you'll allow me to switch metaphors - we all want our writing to be spiced with passion.  We crave to hear the words...."That moved me to tears"  or "That changed me forever".  We want all our words to be flavorful steak but instead too much of it is just mashed potatoes. 

I've written a lot of mashed potatoes.  The words are on the paper, they have all the major points and I've even sprinkled them with a little salt, pepper and butter.....but they still lack the passion that would elevate it to more than a side dish.

That's when I take a walk, turn on some music or pray for guidance.  Sometimes this helps and sometimes the mashed potatoes continue to lay in their lumpy status.

I talked with a dear friend last week who is being criticized for not writing on a regular basis.  Apparently the attacks (though by well meaning friends and family) have caused her to stop talking about being a writer.  She's even thinking of giving up completely. 

What a terrible shame!  She's an insightful person with a great talent.  And....the world needs what she has to say.  She is fighting a debilitating disease and could comfort thousands who are in pain. 

My suggestion:  Writing is not a destination, it's a journey.  Some people have the talent, finances and time to produce mounds of great information (steak) in a relative short amount of time. That's great. 

Luke 12:48   From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

It's important to remember that everyone's talent is different and we all travel different roads.  While we all need to enter the world of writing with gusto, I also believe God allows us to go through difficult training that will take our writing to the next level.  If we ignore that training the results can be disastrous to our writing skills. 

Some writers are allowed to sit by the lake, enjoy the view and cook steak all day long.  Other writers are climbing steep mountains and feel as though they are hanging on cliffs.  Some are in the desert where their head aches from the lack of stimulating refreshment.  What we need to remember is that God does not leave us in those valleys, hanging on a cliff or baking in the desert. 

Writing want-a-bees fight with internal demons, low finances, busy schedules that don't include writing time, rejections, uncertainty and low self-esteem.  Within the want-a-be lies the diamond that God purposely put in place.  It's not quite ready and it needs a little more time, but when the timing is right and it's discovered it will out shine anything that was produced during the "training" period. 

When the writer emerges from their training, they can produce the steak a lonely reader needs to survive.  The writer who survived the desert will produce water for the dying soul.  The writer who finally made it off the rocky cliff will produce meat that strengthens the weary saint. 

Before the want-a-be begins to produce the talent the master has put within him, he must struggle through his own mountain or heated desert.  He must work, and wait.  He must wait and work.  Until finally....his map shows a different road.  Finally he has the experience coupled with God's inspiration to turn down the path that leads to the lake. 

No one can tell you when it's time to sit by the lake and produce - no one but God.  Don't listen to others.  Listen to God.

Don't give up.  Please don't give up.  Keep working and trying and waiting for God to say..."Get out your map and turn this way.  I'm waiting to bless you and the time is now."

God loves you and has called you to write,