Getting back to craft

One of the greatest kinds of seasons you can enter in life is the one immediately after confusion.

I’m very happy to report that I think I’m there. After a long season of indecision, fear, confusion, and hurt with writing, I’ve decided, it’s time to go for it.

Which, oddly enough for me, means taking a step back.

It’s time to get back to craft.

I think for a long time I got so caught up in indecision, whether or not I should do writing at all, that I forgot why I liked it at all. I remembered times when I could just sit and wrestle with my writing for hours and be so satisfied, even when it was hard, and I couldn’t get to that place anymore. I would have a bad writing day and think it was because I wasn’t supposed to be a writer, that God didn’t want me to work on that story, that he was trying to redirect me.

Talk about being off base. Now, I don’t doubt God can redirect us if we start getting off track. I know he can close doors, but this? This was getting unmanageable, and it was not bringing me peace, joy, or any of the other things God promises.

Besides that, I was forgetting one of the greatest tenets of writing, which is that writing is hard. Anyone who writes knows this. I know this. It’s work, it’s time, it’s blood, sweat, and tears, and to think that if I were perfectly aligned with God’s that I could somehow avoid that, that He would somehow just give me my book word for word is absurd, and besides that, well, really…un-fun.

After all, the whole point of the Bible is that God will go to scandalous measures just to have relationship with all of us jacked-up, broken, shattered folk, and now I was thinking the reason He sent Jesus to die for us was divine dictation? For me to just work and pray and whatever else enough that He would finally cave and give me a novel without any further work, challenge, or interchange?

Talk about unhealthy. But I digress.

Now that I’ve decided to really go for writing, one of the things I’ve figured out is just how much more I have to learn. Case in point, realizing that up until recently I haven’t really understood third person point of view as much as I thought, which as one might expect for someone who has written three books in that POV, is crucial. Now I’ve started doing more research about the things I don’t understand. I’ve started listening to more writing podcasts (DIY MFA, and Seated at the Writer’s Table being two examples), am looking into getting some more books, and am even looking into taking some classes (some Coursera classes from Wesleyan University for Nanowrimo being my first step) and getting a mentor.

I’ve also been getting down to the nuts and bolts of my work: examining plots with a fine-tooth comb, taking to hefty paragraphs with a cleaver, searching for what works and getting rid of what doesn’t, even if I am cutting off the literary flourish I loved the best. Instead of worrying so much about whether or not I should be writing at all, I’ve been focusing on doing it well. Not “should I write this story,” but “is it a good one?” Does it have the right elements of plot, character, and setting? Is it riveting? Does it have good themes? Instead of getting lost in the esoteric, I’m just focusing on the tangible, what’s there and if, just by standards of writing and story, whether or not it’s good.

It’s been awesome. I haven’t enjoyed writing this much in years.

And that’s not to say that those other questions aren’t important, that I shouldn’t be concerned with what God wants me to do, but, like I said, that door is always open if this isn’t it, and spinning in circles always being afraid of doing the wrong thing sounds a lot more like the guy downstairs than it does my Jesus.

So for now, I’m trusting the passions He’s given me, that God is more concerned with our relationship and my character than what I do, and taking the steps I really need to get there.

It’s time to get back to craft.


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