When The Abyss Stares Back

When The Abyss Stares Back

I found this tweet the other day that I simply had to share:

Someone soon commented: “It works both ways. ‘I’m a plumber, but I didn’t work today. The pipes weren’t speaking to me.’”

I well know how on-point that analogy is, especially as a writer without the added benefit of deadlines.

While writers are more often than not passionate about writing, how is it we so easily succumb to the temptation to set it all aside due to “lack of inspiration?”

I do this all the time, and I don’t have an answer. If I were to guess, though, part of it is our love/hate relationship to writing. It’s one of the few skills out there that no matter how much we study and improve the craft, success or failure is entirely dependent on the subjective opinions of others. Including ourselves.

We are also an emotional lot, with extreme ups and downs. Sometimes we love what we write, and want to share it with everyone, and other days we want to burn that same story or article in the fireplace so no one will see how much we suck.

When we enter that “I suck” phase, writing becomes near impossible, and we lose all motivation to fight through it. It becomes a viscous downward spiral, and that blank page and blinking cursor morphs into a dark abyss that stares back. Waiting to devour.

I wrote the above this morning, and I have to admit I’m impressed at how I started with something humorous and ended up with something rather dark. Am I sorry. Nope, because that was my inspiration. I at least wrote something, so I can happily say I stuck my tongue out at the “I suck Abyss” and survived.

The Power of Words

I’ve always believed writing is one of the most noble skills out there. Books, both fiction and nonfiction, when done well, will never lose their relevance hundreds, sometimes thousands of years later. They can heal, inform, and inspire. They can bring light to those drowning in darkness.

Here is one such example of how a teacher’s small act of sharing a book with a student literally (see what I did there?) saved his life. Warning. You may need to keep a few tissues on hand.

Never underestimate the power of words — even your own.

Walk with Me

As I continue my search for an agent, I can’t help but feel a little worn down and wore out.

Each time I ask myself, “Am I wasting my time? This agent’s time?”

God has told me time and again to keep on keeping on. It will happen. Eventually. And since he knows, why won’t he tell me which agents to approach, and which agents to pass on by?

After all, if God means for people to read my words, why won’t he show me the right path at the outset instead of allowing me to take so many dark and winding detours?

In Luke 24, Jesus had just risen from the dead, but none of the remaining disciples believed it.

While two of them traveled to Emmaus (verses 13-35) Jesus joined them to discuss his death, resurrection, and how scripture predicted all of it.

They didn’t recognize him until later that night.

Jesus could have revealed himself and the truth of his resurrection the moment he joined them on the road, but he chose to journey with them, to talk with, and teach them.

For him — and the disciples — the journey was of equal importance to the destination. Perhaps even more. That, and as witnesses, they were afterward better armed with scripture to help other disbelievers believe.

The same is true for for all of us. We can’t be so anxious, eager, and rushed to reach our destination that we miss walking with God, and allowing him to teach us along the way.

Sure, I want to know right this instant which agent will be the best fit, but by jumping ahead, what will I miss along the way? Lessons learned, people met, and wisdom gained?

After all, this journey isn’t only about me, but others who are, and will go through the same thing. I can only be a witness if I make the journey right along with them.

Embrace Your Age

Especially women.

Brag about it, even.

If for no other reason to show others that age is just a number — and one we can’t control anyway.

If we embrace the beauty of our scars, wrinkles, no-longer-firm-flesh, and gray hairs along with our age (I draw the line at my chin whiskers, though), we can convince others to do the same.

Because we earned every one of our imperfections, those beautiful imperfections.

What makes them beautiful, you ask?

Our gray hair may show the years we’ve spent on this planet, but it also gleams with a diamond-like brilliance.

Our scars are proof of our willingness to fight, survive and never give up — to rise above the pain.

Our wrinkles are proof of how much we love to smile and laugh.

The softness in our bellies, arms and legs are perfect warm pillows for those needing comfort, and young ones seeking snuggles.

All our age reveals is how long it took us — so far — to earn that beauty.

Embrace it. All of it, because it makes you more beautiful, not less.

You Don’t Own Them

You Don’t Own Them

I just read a Facebook post by Mike Rowe ( https://www.facebook.com/TheRealMikeRowe/posts/1794612627215539 ).

A thought occurred to me when I read some of the comments:

“Mike, if you really want to stay out of politics, you might reconsider appearing with a squinty-eyed, race-baiting dipshit like Carlson.”

“Mike I respect your support for the trades as I am a high school trades teacher myself. Are you sure Tucker and Fox is the most credible source for you to voice your opinions? Tucker’s track record of his behavior and demeanor towards guests he does not agree with is disgusting. I have lost a little respect for you.”

I responded to the first comment thusly: “So what if he is? He has an audience that Mike wants to reach. I won’t complain if he appeared on a show I dislike, because Mike wants to reach that particular audience as well.

“Because Mike’s overall desire is to reach everyone, regardless of their political leanings.”

I’ve seen similar complaints when Mike appeared on shows considered more left-leaning as well.

He isn’t alone in taking that kind of criticism. Rush Limbaugh was once excoriated in the 1990s for doing an interview for “Playboy” magazine.

I constantly see tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, and articles of people complaining how a reporter, singer, actor, author, athlete, etc. broke some unwritten rule that violated their chosen political worldview.

Since when do we own famous people (or anyone else for that matter)?

It seems like an odd question, but when I read such comments, it has to come from a certain mentality. The only correlation I can think of is that between master and slave.

While people don’t literally own anyone (at least here in the States and other countries), if those posting overly-critical comments didn’t believe they held some kind of “ownership” over that celebrity, why give said celebrity a figurative public beating for breaking their “rules?”

Eyes Wide Open

When it comes to photography, I’m always keeping my eyes open for something interesting to photograph and share. I loved today especially, because it was cold, calm and foggy. Hoar frost abounded on the trees, grass and shrubs.

What normally takes me fifteen minutes to walk around a few blocks during my breaks almost doubled today, because I couldn’t get enough of the frost-coated — everything.

Unfortunately, I too often don’t have that kind of “eyes wide open” mentality when it comes to my writing — or even my faith at times.

I ran into a quote the other day: “If you wait for inspiration to write, you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” ~ Dan Poynter.

I also found something I had written years ago to keep me motivated: “Write fearless. Anything less, it shows, and the words inevitably stumble and fall.”

Fear holds me back. Fear of offense, of being misunderstood, of boring my readers, my how the list is long!

Some people call writing — whether fiction or non-fiction — their ministry. They write to bring people closer to God. It’s a calling like any other type of ministry.

I, on the other hand, don’t. To me writing is my form of worship. Do I want to encourage people with my words? Absolutely. I’ll even admit that I hope my words will bring others closer to God; to see his love and beauty as I do. I also believe writing is my calling, because as much as I may complain about quitting, I never will. I can’t. God won’t let me (and believe me, I’ve tried).

I hesitate to call it my ministry, because I stumble so much. I don’t know enough about Jesus, scripture, or faith in general to claim any kind of authority. I see ministry as a form of spiritual leadership, and because I too often don’t know what the heck I’m doing, I don’t want anyone to follow me. I’ll only make them stumble as much as I do, if not more.

That kind of thinking, however, limits God. If God wants me to reach others with my words — whether it’s this blog or my stories — then I have to put those words out there, and trust that they will reach the right people at the right time.

Taking hoar frost pictures on my phone during my morning break may give me joy, but no one else if I don’t share them. Joy was never meant to be hoarded (see what I did there?).

Jesus’ love is the same way. It must be shared, and I can’t fear offending, being misunderstood, or boring my readers (be aware, yes, because writing is also a skill that requires a lot of practice, but never afraid). Doing so only means I would rather keep my eyes closed, and prevent others from seeing what I see.

I am no good to God that way. He gives us our gifts not for ourselves alone, but for others who need them even more than we do.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:14-16