For two afternoons in late September, I joined a group above the Frio River, in a room that hung on the rim of a canyon. This small group of writers had gathered where books lined the shelves and everything spiritual seemed so much easier to identify. We were published and not, novices and veterans, who gathered to explore The Writing Life.
Only you know if writing is your calling. You’re the only who knows if your breath grows short just at the thought of not being able to work yourself out on a page or computer monitor. Only you know if problems unravel themselves as the ink spills itself on the page; or if the tap-tap-tap of a keyboard is the rhythm you beat out to find yourself. To find truth. Maybe even to find God.
So just in case it’s you – in case it really is your calling – you try to wrap your head around the big idea of that. You sit in groups of those who write and you share words and thoughts and hang on every moment as you wait for just a flicker of the flame of confirmation. I sat in a room above the Frio as the leaders of our workshop offered bits of wisdom for those of us who write. If you’re one of those for whom The Writing Life calls out – whether it is simply calling, or if it is your calling – you might like to know a bit of richness that was dropped into my lap over those two afternoons in late September.
I’ll share two today (these two first – I think – to fortify the place from which the soul responds in words) and two later this week. They seem simple and, like true treasures, they are easy to pass over as insignificant or perhaps they’re too easily taken for granted. But it is in the practice that their value is unfolded.
- Read your Bible. It fills you up. Read it as a writer. Soak up the choices of words. Underline and highlight the phrases that jump out at you – and they will. Circle the parts that make you question or wonder out loud what it all really means. Question and wonder. Read what you can when you can. Something mystical happens with these sacred words and they settle themselves into your heart and somehow they show up on your page or your screen or in the midst of your conversations with friends over coffee.
- Go to church. I know. Church is filled with people and all of their baggage, and the choir that always sings off-key, or the preacher who preaches too long, or the seemingly constant requests for money, or the greeter who always invades your personal space. But Church is about God, and not about us. It’s where we recognize that everything we have comes from God – even this bent we have toward putting the pen to the page. And church is where we join with others to say “thank you” for words and for story and for life.
How about you? What do you think it means to be called to something? What is it that calls to you?
With deep gratitude to Kathleen Niendorff and Alice Lawhead, who led our workshop on The Writing Life over two September afternoons in a room on the rim of the canyon.
Photos: A glimpse into the workshop. The couch where I sat suspended over the water. The writers, sharing words and thoughts and hearts during a break.