I gave up writing for the Lenten season because I was worn through. I gave up writing because I was angry. I was angry that my dream had not/would not/could not come to fruition. I gave up writing and I stewed, and I asked God if he actually wanted me to waste so much energy on a futile task. It’s dangerous to ask God for answers, especially when the answers are so absolute in our own minds. My mind said, “Of course I’m supposed to write. Why would God be so cruel to give me this dream only to rip it from my hands as though he were a sadist who enjoyed the suffering of others?” At the same time, my mind told me, “God doesn’t want you to waste time writing. He wants women to be in the home rearing the children and cooking food and untying their tired husbands’ boots and massaging their husbands’ feet . . .”
Let me tell you right now–God doesn’t think in the absolutist, black and white ideas we erect and call good in his name. If you want to know a surprising truth about yourself, go ahead and kneel before him and ask for it. If you would rather adhere to your black and white schema, don’t bother. God revealed a surprising truth to me, and his truth had nothing whatever to do with the false paradigm of to write or not to write. He showed me how I had cursed myself by vowing, as a child, that I was intelligent if I was a writer; that I was attractive if I was a writer; that those who had shunned me would be forced to acknowledge me if I was a writer.
He showed me that I was peering through a warped lens, that through its vision, I very nearly subverted every chance I had for sanity and wholeness as a person. My lack of success in writing was enough to turn me against reality, to retreat from it rather than to face it in the way God had created me to do–through honest study of the world. This was a breakthrough idea for me, that I was a researcher whose natural outlet was writing, rather than the other way around, in which I would research only for the sake of the written work. I don’t know if this makes much sense to you, the idea of being a fulfilled person through study, but it allowed me to shrug off the weight that rested on my shoulders, allowed me to cast away the warped lens that clouded my vision of reality.
I’m happiest when I study. I really am. I’m happiest when my writing springs from the academic. Looking back, I see my pattern–revert to study as a default method of coping with the world, tell myself I shouldn’t waste my time, that I should be writing books instead, cease the study and work on current fiction project, become thoroughly miserable.
Turning to God for answers was the right response for me. Through him, I was able to break my foolish childhood vow. And, no, he didn’t rise up and say, “Thou shalt not write!” or even its opposite. Instead, he set me free to be the kind of writer and person he created me to be.
Where do I go from here? I don’t know, but I’m trembling while I wait.
Here’s my question for you: Are you the type of writer who researches in order to create a masterwork of writing, or are you a researcher whose natural outlet is writing? Or are you a different kind of writer altogether? Maybe you’re not a writer at all (I know there are some non writers out there!)?