The Jolly Old Business of Writing
|I took this photo upon our arrival in London, through the window of the taxi. I loved the flower pots at the doorsteps of many London apartments, like in this one. More photos of our trip to come ;)!|
It is so easy as writers to be bogged down in the struggles of writing and creating stories. Now and again, I happen to have a peek at the outside world, and catch a rare glimpse of our calling from the wider perspective, and not just from the safe comfort-zone of writing friends and die-hard bibliophiles.
And in thinking about my love of stories, and then talking about it to friends whose passion generally doesn't lean towards the written word, it struck me the other day how very uninteresting and bizarre the life of a writer and novelist must appear to them, in our very "bookish" pursuit of tales and scribbles and ink-stains. Being the imaginer that I am and rather sensitive to other people's perspectives, it isn't hard to figure that it can be a totally bizarre and eccentric thing to be a writer (from their point of view); of course, all they see is the outward stuff - an obsession with books (always carrying a classic-tome to choir practice) and rambling on animatedly about C.S. Lewis and The Hobbit movies to friends at get-togethers or on facebook. Regularly pointing out with great thoughtfulness how the Christian-era that Dickens and Jane Austen wrote in influenced their works in a positive light, and then launching into the rather self-defensive "why fiction is so powerful an influence on culture" monologue. All the stuff that can honestly get me very awkward and embarrassed, and probably bores people terribly. I wouldn't dare trying to show them the stuff that goes on in a writer's head and imagination! Oh, you know - the mechanics of story-telling or description, or the way my mind works, running over and over on certain plot points and dynamic philosophic and human as well as faith themes and engaging in intense internal dialogues with made-up people. . .
It is a jolly old business, and so hard to explain, especially if you have no current writing you're ready to flaunt at them confidently and urge them to read!
Humans always can best understand what is tangible to them in their fingertips and praise what looks like a proper accomplishment; so it is easy for all of us to underestimate and belittle something until it becomes a familiar tangible "something". A published novel anyone can pick off Koorong or Angus and Robertson shelves is something they might connect with for a few hours in their year, and so means just a little bit more to them. But a few odd bits of description, a witty phrase and a stack of unedited manuscript paper lying under your bed--WORDS THAT YOU WROTE AND CRIED AND BLED OVER-- those amazing little, diamond things that bring such wonderful thrills to the life of a writer. . ?. are downright strange and boring for everyone else, besides seeming rather idealistic and trivial. We'll glory in the conquests of a figment of our imagination, and cry when our fingers cramp and the words get glued to each other till we sob in delight at a turn of phrase or a light through a stained-glass window playing prisms of drama and wonder through our pens.
So maybe folks do wonder about us, writers, and think us some rare breed; they only see the dry, dull stuff - we are the Jane Fairfaxes to the Emmas who puzzle them by reading 100 titles and learn the elvish language, for fun ;). It makes little sense why we would voluntarily give time on some old classic tome that was forced upon them at high-school literature class. I don't mean to say that people are trying to be mean or uncaring! They can be really interested and intrigued - nor do I want us to sound snobbish and proud of our interests. We are all made very differently, with different interests and passions. But, I suppose what I mean to say, is that what seems to them like stuffy old literature and writing deadlines to run-away-from, are the things that are actually brimming with wonderful hidden joys and gems that probably only a writer or someone who really loves stories will get a glimpse of!
Our lives as writers is not dreary or trivial. It is amazing! People may underestimate the life and work of a novelist, of a storyteller, and think that in the "real-world", a novel will do no-good. But don't forget, that the Lord Jesus Himself is a Storyteller! He spoke to the people in parables and brought them to understand the Truth through simple tales.
The love of stories is a gift.
You are blessed to be a writer.
The writer's life, filled with hard-work (for it really is hard work), tears and toil of years writing away in silent lonely rooms, is filled with something beautiful, adventurous and romantic; filled with imagination and wonder and fun - we have the privilege of writing about people, events and lives, not just to make people understand us better or anything so egocentric as that, but for ourselves - to write so that we too may understand, may know, may catch a glimpse of the mysteries of life, and the loving, faithful Hands of our dear Father in Heaven.
Oh, it is a jolly, wonderful thing - to be a writer!