The Painful Plunge

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For the last 3 days I’ve holed myself away in my parents country cottage in an effort to get some solid writing done. And for the last 3 days, I’ve been using every distraction tactic my imagination can conjure to keep myself from the same end. I’ve been telling myself that I’m just figuring out my “rhythm,” determining what “works for me.”

I’ve read articles on how to overcome “writers block,” checked my email, Instagram and Twitter accounts in compulsive three-minute intervals, and listened to more classical music than I likely have over the course of my entire life until this point. I’ve consumed more cups of coffee than could possibly be considered healthy, taken pictures of the “writing” process, posted those pictures and waited for the likes to roll in for some coveted scraps of encouragement to keep going.

Yes. I am quite aware of how pathetic that sounds. Whatever people. I’m human.

And to be fair, I have gotten some writing done. I’ve worked a bit on my outline; found that I like the Notebook function in Word for creating my draft as it offers a clean and effective format for organizing my outlines and stories. I even managed to get another blog post up… this one will make two.

But this morning I came to the end of myself. I had to put away the distractions and take a good long look at what was going on and ask myself, “What is it you’re so afraid of?”

By in large, I already know what it is I need to write about. I have a good number of chapters already predetermined in my head, though they’ve yet to be written. And this morning, as I sat in the profound discomfort of this question, this is what I found: I don’t want to go back; I don’t want to revisit these stories. I don’t want to dig that deep and unpack all the crap I’ve so meticulously put away.

It turns out, when you commit to writing a book about redemption, you have to write about the unredeemed parts too. I forget that it’s hardly the pretty, “together” parts of our lives in need of restoration. No, rather redemption is birthed out of our abject poverty, our brokenness, hurt, loneliness and vulnerability. These are the things in life that need to be made new. And usually, unfortunately, these are really the only stories worth telling. But it’s painful. I want to be able to say that I’ve made my way through the mire to the other side where only rejoicing is found. That I can look back without those old familiar pangs of regret and sadness. That the memories of some of these stories don’t still sting. But that wouldn’t be honest, and it certainly wouldn’t make for very good story telling. No. Instead, I have to trudge back through all the garbage, make myself vulnerable to the memories once more and relive them. I have to feel the pain again, and cry tears that I swore I’d never shed again, in order to write effectively and honestly about it all. I have to take the painful plunge inward and invite the Lord to walk me through the process once more; to bring me back to the vantage point where perspective shifts from what is broken and bereft of hope, to something of profound and nuanced beauty.

And I want to get there. I do. But it isn’t easy, and I can see now that it simply isn’t going to be. Perhaps it isn’t supposed to be.

I don’t think I’ve ever realized how much of a person’s soul is poured out and laid bare in the book-writing process. It is incredibly humbling. It is incredibly frightening. It almost doesn’t seem worth it until I remember that it is also profoundly healing.

So this morning I planted my backside resolutely in my chair and wrote until I was right back in the moment. I wrote until the tears came, and then kept typing right on through them. Am I thrilled with the product? Not particularly, but product wasn’t the point today. Today the point was getting to the place of being honest with myself about the process and coming to grips with that. And though I’m sure I’ll have to relearn this lesson a thousand times over, today I will celebrate this small victory for what it is.

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