Additional "I Dwell in Possibility" Articles


Creation Takes Trust
Published: 6/3/2011 2:29:34 PM


When people ask what I do and I tell them I'm a writer and an editor, they usually get this glazed look in their eyes as they say, "Oh, that's interesting," in a tone of voice which simultaneously suggests an inability to come up with any other response as well as a sense of wonderment that someone can actually make a living doing that.

I can't really blame them for that wonderment, as I often feel it myself. There are times during the day when I lean back in my chair, look out the window, and smile as I think, Someone actually pays me to do this thing I love! Granted, I don't get paid much, especially in comparison to the days I had a full time job, and it can hardly be called "making a living" since more than half of our expenses are covered by my husband's income. I spend a couple hours a day writing and editing for other people, and then I spend the rest of the day working on my version of the Great American Novel. Most days I'm immensely happy that I get to do this thing I love.

Other days, I find myself in a crumpled, head-to-desk pose; or in a sprawled, staring-at-the-ceiling-as-my-eyes-glaze-over pose; or with an anguished, what-have-I-gotten-myself-into-and-how-do-I-get-out-of-it-without-losing-my-sanity sort of expression twisting my face. For years and years I dreamed of a day when I would have the time and freedom to spend a good part of my day writing, and now that I have it, I've realized something.

Writing is hard.

It's much harder than it was when I was a teenager making up stories in Biology and then writing them every evening after I finished my homework. It's harder than it was when I was in college writing notes about my stories in the margins of my class notes. And it's harder than it was when I had to fit writing time around work time, and then later when I had to fit writing time around work time and time with my husband.

I wish I knew exactly what made creating stories so hard. If I knew, I could tackle it head on and wrestle it into submission and then everything would flow like honey--not too fast and not too slow, but ever so sweetly.

I don't think it works like that, though. And I think I really do know what makes writing so difficult. Some of it is the fear of failure, and some of it the fear of success. Some of the difficulty lies in the frustration of the disparity between the story I see in my mind and the weak, meager words that I write on the page. And some of it is the thought that I might be crazy for daring to try. But there's something else, something I think is the root of it all, and it's not something that can be tackled and wrestled.

Lloyd Alexander, author of children's fantasy books, sums it up very well. "Creation, whatever its form, is not an act of will, but an act of faith." Creativity and the creation of stories, or art, or music, or dancing, or whatever your art form, takes faith and trust. Artists and creators have to trust the process; showing up every day and doing the work and practicing our art so that we can create something that is good. We have to trust that the work we are doing is worth it even when it seems like it would be so much easier on ourselves to just quit. We have to trust that what we have to say will be as important to someone else as it is to us, that it will mean something to someone else and maybe touch them in ways we can't begin to imagine just yet. And we have to trust the project itself to let us know what it needs. (I can and probably will expand on each of these ideas in future posts on this blog...) Finally, being a Christian, I want the work I do to be God-pleasing. I trust that He will be able to use it, and that it's for His glory and not my own.

I write this and realize that it sounds kind of mystical and out there, and there's probably good reason that many people get that glazed look in their eyes when I start talking about being a writer. I don't mean it to sound that way. There are a lot of very straight-forward things about being a writer. But creativity is hard to define and explain. In this blog I hope to explore what it means to be a writer and an artist, and particularly, what it means to be a follower of Christ and an artist. I hope you'll share your thoughts with me. Creativity is often a very solitary activity, but there's a community element to it, too. Stories, art, and music are meant to be shared.

Sherrah Behrens

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