This weekend I got to spent two whole days in a big room full of weirdos. IT WAS AMAZING. Every person is a little weird I think, which is to say unique. Writers are our own brand of weird and we are not all weird in the same way. So a writing conference like Re:Write was like a concentration of weird on weird steroids. Can I say again: IT WAS AMAZING. (To read some of my first thoughts, check out my weekly email. You should probably also subscribe, weirdo.)
You see, I went to Re:Write thinking that it might be time to give up this dream of writing, at least for a while. I find myself in a constant state of frustration where even with my best efforts to plan and organize and accomplish, life (and by life I mostly mean my kids) gets in the way of my art.
I plan to write during nap time—there IS no nap time.
I plan to write at night when everyone is asleep—someone starts teething and no one is sleeping.
I plan to write while the kids are in preschool–their preschool closes. (True story.)
But when Chad Allen said that we should embrace the creative tension, it was one of those moments when something in your soul starts humming. Have you had that kind of moment? My soul started humming to life as I thought about my frustrations. Maybe these frustrations are really creative tension, I thought. I simply need to embrace it.
So I came home last night and talked to Rob (read: talked AT Rob) about my weekend. My husband and I are total opposites in so many ways, but he is totally supportive. After talking, we decided to figure out a way for me to write for 1-2 hours every day. Not blog writing. WRITING. Like, working on my fiction or my non-fiction NOT on the internet.
This morning I got up, ready to rule the day. It was a little bit like this:
With a side of this:
Perhaps I was a little optimistic.
Because at my scheduled work time, Quin woke up from her nap and stupid Microsoft Word ate the edits I DID finish before the baby woke up. Forget creative tension. I was FRUSTRATED. I’m not embracing this, I thought. This isn’t tension. It’s frustration.
And then a few things happened.
I posted in a writer’s group and got such an encouraging response and sense of camaraderie. I was right back in that room full of weirdos like me. One of those weirdos actually called and prayed for me and that was amazing.
I also thought of labor and birth. There is something called the fear-pain cycle wherein the more you fear pain, the more painful a thing becomes. When you are in labor, if you can stop fearing and resisting the pain and give your body over to the work of birth, you will experience pain differently. (Note: While I believe in this, my birth stories did not have some fluffy, happy ending. Other than the baby, I mean. Labor sucked big time.)
I started thinking about creative tension and the need to embrace it.
I started thinking about trials and how they produce perseverance.
I started thinking that if God orders every day, he knows that this day was going to be hijacked (as my friend and fellow writer Jackie Hooks says).
I started thinking that I needed to embrace it.
Then I really started feeling like a weirdo because I began praying out loud and talking to myself and to God and to Quin and just sort of reclaiming this lost hour of work. I may or may not have yelled, “THIS IS ME EMBRACING CREATIVE TENSION!” I put on Sufjen Stevens and I jammed out and I smiled at the baby and closed the computer and God provided another time today for me to write. But EVEN IF HE HADN’T, I started to get it.
Before all the tension happened, I read this in The Valley of Vision (affiliate link): “Thy Providence has set all the bounds of my habitation, and wisely administered all my affairs.” What if I lived like I REALLY believed that?
My life looks like one giant bowl of creative tension gumbo. And I’m diving in. (While mixing metaphors.) I am going to to embrace this tension and this all-out frustration, and I am going to write in the middle. I am going to praise God anyway in the midst of a great writing period or a hijacked day. I am going to start the day making a to-do list. And then after I spend time reading the Bible, I will pray over those things and ask God to order them. He may not order them the way I want or even feel like I need, but I can trust that He will do it.
Above all, I will write.
No, not every day, I’m sure. But I know I can carve out an hour. I dream of more, but right now in my crazy four-children-ed life, an hour is a giant, GIANT amount of time. It’s luxurious and I’m going to claim it and wallow there for that hour.
Whether you’re a writer or another kind of weirdo, do you find creative tension or frustration in your life? How do YOU handle it?
You may also like:
Chad R. Allen’s book, Do Your Art.
Linking up with Ashley Hales at Circling the Story!