Inspiration for Another Day

“Day 48 – Dishes, dishes” by Sarah Cady is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

You do not have to write an entire book all in one day. You do not have to get every word right the first time you plunk the little keys that put the letters that make a sentence on the screen. You do not have to finish a whole page. You do not have to have sunshine, or feel tranquil, or even brush your teeth. The laundry can wait, the dishes can wait, and your stomach will not start to feel better until after you sit down at your desk. You know all these things, already. You’re just stubborn, and whiny, and anxious; and you like your sentences to be built on multiples of three.

Or maybe you’re the kind of writer who wants to have a shiny new book, yet doesn’t want to do all the work it takes to have a shiny new book. Or maybe you’re not opposed to the work, you just don’t know where to begin. You have so many ideas and it’s hard to commit to just one thing, so you get inside your head and imagine all the things that could go wrong with your first chapter, or the narrative arc, or your tendency to only come up with three items in a list before moving on to the next topic.

Because maybe you don’t have what it takes for the long haul. Maybe your attention span is too short, or your ideas are too shallow, or you just don’t want to find out what happens when you write a whole book that nobody wants to read. Or buy. Or publish. So, why bother with the work in the first place?

After all, you’re feeling kind of hungry now, and you’ve already made it halfway through the page. In fact, this is probably the three hundred word mark, right here. Close. 298. (Dang. This is harder than it looks.)

So, now what? This is usually where a good idea first starts to show its face, but you’ll have to keep ignoring that churning in your stomach, and now your fingers are starting to shake, too. Ah, what the heck! Go eat a bowl of cereal; nobody’s going to read this post anyway. Because there’s no point to it. It’s just a bunch of gibberish you came up with to make yourself do the thing, hit the keys, and fill up the blank space looking back at you. What good will it do anyone to see what it’s really like when you get started with a new project?

But then again, maybe you’ll have a change of heart after you eat that bowl of cereal. Maybe low blood sugar was your real enemy all along. That and being so cold that you had to warm up your tea for the third time this morning. So what if you spilled it when you opened the microwave and cursed loud enough for the dog to wake up from her nap? That’s beside the point, because now you’ve remembered the other people out there trying to get their work done today. The other writers who might need reminding that this real life is the only place we have to get our work done.

Though we often wish it would, the real work doesn’t happen at writers’ conferences, or in daydreams, or overlooking a small villa at the beach. Well, not for anyone other than James Patterson.

For the rest of us, the work happens at our kitchen tables—with dirty dishes in the sink and unfolded laundry on the couch. Whether the weather is great or terrible. It happens when we push through the doubt and anxiety and fear of failure that plague each one of us. It happens when we tap that first key, and decide what word will come next. It happens with faith, perseverance, and surrender—just like the rest of life. And like lots of other good, good things; sometimes it happens best, a little at a time.

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Instead of a Silver Spoon

The cat in the cradle
stole my tongue,
and I’ve been silent
ever since.

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Redeeming Feminism

Author’s Note: This post was adapted from a talk I gave at Hutchmoot, for a session entitled, Voices of Grace: Encouraging Women’s Voices in Artisitic and Christian Community, along with Jill Phillips, Thomas McKenzie and Helena Sorenson. You can purchase the entire talk as well as the rest of the sessions from Hutchmoot 2018 by clicking on this link for the Rabbit Room store.

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In her book, Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women, Sarah Bessey says this:

“One needn’t identify as a feminist to participate in the redemptive movement of God for women in the world. The gospel is more than enough. Of course it is! But as long as I know how important maternal health is to Haiti’s future, and as long as I know that women are being abused and raped, as long as I know girls are being denied life itself through selective abortion, abandonment, and abuse, as long as brave little girls in Afghanistan are attacked with acid for the crime of going to school, and until being a Christian is synonymous with doing something about these things, you can also call me a feminist.”  

I agree with Sarah’s conclusion that being a Christian doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pro-female, but I also believe that’s something we can change.

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A Letter to My Past Self

I see you scribbling out words in the bathroom stall, grinning to yourself about the silly thing you’re planning to do. You doubt it will accomplish anything to give a handwritten note to a musician you admire, but you secretly hope that it will. You have no idea if he’ll read this note, or if he’ll consider your idea to add more female voices to the website he and his brother recently launched. You’re feeling nervous about shaking his hand and looking him in the eye as you hand the note to him, but you’re determined to take this risk.

And here I sit, nearly ten years later typing on a laptop at ten o’clock at night, feeling incredibly proud of you. You have no idea how this one little interaction will change your life for the better. You just can’t imagine how many writers and artists and friends you’re going to meet during the next ten years because of this night. You don’t know if this guy will even read your letter, let alone invite you to submit some of your writing for his fans to read. You don’t realize that in a couple of years you’ll be helping plan a conference for this burgeoning community of creative types from all over America and Europe. You can only dream of having your words printed in a book someday, but little do you know that you’re about to take the first step down a path that leads to this very thing.

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Miracles and Monuments

Have you ever had one of those moments where you felt like you finally got what life was all about? Not just life in general, but your own specific life. Have you ever seen, just for a minute, what might be going on behind that miraculous curtain of purpose, and afterward, you knew exactly what to do next, and why? Maybe it sounds too good to be true, but I think I’ve had a few of these revelations in my life. Thing is, I don’t always recognize them while they’re happening. Like those winding mazes we used to solve on the back of a kids’ menu, sometimes the path is easier to see once we’ve made it to the end.

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