One Good Thing Every Day 2014

One Good Thing Every Day: June 24, 2014

Today my devotions led me into quiet places, like Dickens’ countrysides, where contemplation and rest are found. Mark 6:31 says, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’”

Yet, they also took me to what precedes rest. Paul Horgan says “Every imaginative production must contain some element of risk.” If that is true, what of the unimaginative, the elements of life that drain us of energy, stamina, and resolve? Emily Dickenson comments on this journey.

Life — is what we make of it —
Death — we do not know —
Christ’s acquaintance with Him
Justify Him — though —

He — would trust no stranger —
Other — could betray —
Just His own endorsement —
That — sufficeth Me —

All the other Distance
He hath traversed first —
No New Mile remaineth —
Far as Paradise —

His sure foot preceding —
Tender Pioneer —
Base must be the Coward
Dare not venture — now —

Reading this poem I am reminded of my journeys. I am Hezekiah turning to the wall and crying out to God (2 Kings 20:2). Still, my Psalm 23 valleys and my Mount Horebs (1 King 19:1-12) seem trivial. Eden’s communal walks give way to lonely betrayal in Gethsemane. The Tree of Life transforms into a crucifixion crossbeam. The Word’s last words are screamed at His Father’s back. For three days, Life and Death are one in the same. Imagine living in the formlessness of those days—as before God calls out the Light of the World and the unseen Spirit hovers over the deep cavernous expanse of sin’s darkness. Hear the stone cry out as it rolls away! The Gardner replants His feet on the earth and His hands reveal His labor’s wounds.

So, when He asks for hands to harvest (Matthew 9:35-38), I must dig in. Yet, when I weary, I can find Him in the garden, and go to Him alone.

One Page at a Time, Uncategorized

One Page at a Time: Nothing New Under the Sun

“ALL OUR BEST MATERIAL HAS ALREADY BEEN COVERED BY WONDERFUL WRITERS. IF WE LET THAT STOP US, NOTHING NEW WOULD EVER GET WRITTEN.” Barbara Ambercrombie, as quoted in A Year of Writing Dangerously

“Everything has been said; but not everything has been said superbly, and even if it has been, everything must be said freshly, over and over.” Paul Horgan, as quoted in A Year of Writing Dangerously

I came across these quotations in my daily reading a few weeks ago. I heard these sentiments over and over in my college writing classes. They are not new ideas. The goal of all writing is to make the old new. No wonder the newness of a blank page evokes such fear. Writers know the impossibility of the task. In fact, so impossible is this task, that the original idea–whether known or unknown to Ambercrombie and Horgan–comes from the God-inspired wisdom of Solomon.

Ecclesiastes 1:9: NIV
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

Ernest Hemingway also quoted from portions of Ecclesiastes (1:4-7) at the beginning of The Sun Also Rises. Most likely the title was inspired by verse five: “The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.” Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and the melody of a song by The Byrds comes to mind, possibly lingering for the rest of the day.

Writers be warned as you read the following passage because you may never pick up your pen or turn on your computer again!

Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 NIV

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

One Page at a Time

One Page at a Time: Against the Tide

“The world is addictive. It wants us away from the desk, and a writer is a person who likes her work so much, that she’s going to get it. You’ve got to go upstream. It’s against the tide to get this kind of work done.” Ron Carlson as quoted in A Year of Writing Dangerously

“In life’s darkening duel…you’re…the tide that sways my inland sea!” from Gavin Ewart’s “To Margo”

Even as my Daily Poet writing prompt Tuesday was to write a poem in the language of Facebook, my reading from A Year of Writing Dangerously lists checking Facebook as one of the eight ways to sabotage your writing. As there were only eight listed and six through eight focused on email and Facebook, I began to wonder what might have sabotaged writers prior to the Internet. Perhaps it was walking to town to wait for the post arriving by train, or writing letters by hand, or taking a long walk through prairie grasses, or getting lost for a day in the forest.

The wonderful thing for writers living in this addictive, ransacking, sabotaging world is that we often bring our work with us. We shoulder bags carrying a laptop or the latest-greatest tablet device. Many of us tote mini-sized pens and notepads in our pockets and purses. If those are left behind, we resort to borrowing writing utensils and scribbling on napkins or receipts. If we trust our minds, we lock our brilliant words in our mental journals to be jotted down as soon as we arrive home.

But, no wonder we find ourselves exhausted fighting life’s churning tides and daily currents! They pulled hard at me on Monday. I didn’t care to know what phase the moon was in to cause such turning, but the going was painfully slow and barely navigable. Some days are like that.

Writers, like salmon on their instinctual anadromous journey, go against the open-sea tides leaping toward our freshwater places of greatest productivity–our desks, our coffee shops, our favorite chairs, our fields and forests–where somehow our writing lives survive another day, where somehow–in discovering safe havens to create–we recreate ourselves, within this predatory world.

One Page at a Time

One Page at a Time: Little Rooms and Writing

“Writers don’t have lifestyles. They just sit in little rooms and write.” Norman Mailer as quoted in A Year of Writing Dangerously

I must take issue with Norman Mailer. As I sit in my little front room writing, I cannot completely disagree with the second part of his statement. But, I disagree completely with the first part of his statement, which makes me disagree with part of the second part of his statement.

Perhaps Mailer’s lifestyle consisted solely of writing, but mine does not and cannot. I am not simply a writer. I am a Christian, wife, mother, home educator, home maker, daughter, sister, friend, and a church member. All of these roles and more define my day-to-day decisions. Which is why the second statement is not wholly true for me. I do not “just sit in little rooms and write.” I must sit and write in the little rooms of time I find within each day.

It is not always the little rooms of time I “set aside.” More often it is the little rooms of stolen moments before alarm buzzers, dinner timers, and sports practices. There are the rare blissful little rooms in coffee booths on Saturday mornings. At the moment, I am listening to Jim Brickman’s Escape, and truly escaping as I write.

No matter where those little rooms may be, my lifestyle creeps onto the page with its funny, angry, perplexing, tearful, frightening, cathartic, ironic moments that make writing real. Without living, no writing!

To Mr. Mailer, I say,

Writers live with style. Wherever and whenever they sit, in every little room they inhabit, writing is their habit.

 

One Page at a Time

One Page at a Time: Unexpected Places

Several times this week, I have encountered the theme of “space” and “place.” My post from January 3, 2014 focused on the space and place set aside for writing. These quotations help me consider my writing and how it affects the world outside my personal space and place. The imagery evoked by them excites me rather than frightens me. I hold tight with all my might to my
“corner” of this writing ride!

 

“…have you ever found yourself in an unexpected place but where, deep down, you knew you were supposed to be?” from A Year with Aslan

“The approach of a man’s life out of the past is history, and the approach out of the future is mystery. Their meeting is the present, and it is consciousness, the only time life is alive. The endless wonder of this meeting is what causes the mind, in its inward liberty of a frozen morning, to turn back and question and remember. The world is full of places. Why is it that I am here?” from The Long-Legged House by Wendell Berry, as quoted in Poem a Day

“I see the terrifying spaces of the universe that enclose me, and I find myself attached to a corner of this vast expanse, without knowing why I am more in this place than in the other, nor why this little time that is given me to live is assigned me at this point more than another out of all the eternity that has preceded me and out of all that will follow me.” from Thoughts on Religion by Blaise Pascal, as quoted in Poem a Day

“The essential question is, ‘Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?’ Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words your characters will speak, ideas–inspiration.” Doris Lessing, as quoted in A Year of Writing Dangerously