18 years ago, Lori, a friend from my Ph.D programme in Creative Writing (we dropped out in the same month) published a children’s book which became and remains a best-seller.
She said God gave it to her in a single morning, as she was at a cabin on Lake Michigan.
She made lots of money from it, and it’s still selling well, 18 years later, with spin-offs too: a DVD, companion books, board books, computer games etc.
* * *
At that time, I was writing with sweat and self-effort and self-doubt, and did not know what it meant for God to give you books. I had a friend, also a professional writer, who’d say, “I am not a naturally talented writer like Anita. I just have to rely on the Lord,” and I would look at her, baffled.
Rely on the Lord for writing? It sounded to me like relying on the Lord to fly a Boeing 757. I thought writing was a matter of reading, studying the craft, learning from teachers and editors, and practising. Always practising.
I have always been fascinated by many writers’ experience of God giving them books or poems, and have hoped (and prayed, but, sadly, hoped more) that God would “give” me books.
* * *
I took a three and a half year break from writing because I wanted to put my children in a school I could not afford, and I lacked the self-confidence to rapidly write books to pay for it, as Dostoevsky did to pay his gambling debts, or Doctor Johnson knocked off Rasselas to pay for his mother’s funeral, or Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in 4 hour sessions over six weeks.
That period was a death, a period of deep sadness about not pursuing my writing, the one and only big dream I had ever had (though I had often got distracted by lesser dreams and work). Sadness mixed with the excitement of starting a business–which is something I had no experience of–and exhilaration as it began to succeed.
* * *
Before I took the break, I used to write slowly, inlaying words carefully like jewels in a mosaic. (See White Elephants or Silver Bells and Cockle Shells which won the NEA’s prize of $20,000 in 1997.) After my break, I had no patience for that.
The break was a death and resurrection–though at the time it just felt like death.
After hearing God suggest blogging, I began writing in a different style, so that anyone, literary or not could “get” what I was saying at the first reading. I now agree with Primo Levi, “He who does not know how to communicate, or communicates badly, in a code that belongs only to him and a few others, is unhappy, and spreads unhappiness around him. If he communicates badly deliberately, he is wicked or at least a discourteous person.”
I committed to blogging every day. I blog just enough to keep my blog growing and stats up, month on month—which is, frequently, every day. J (However, I am seeking the Lord for strategies on growing my blog in a less labour-intensive way, and He is suggesting some.)
Anyway, with writing a piece worth sharing with the world every day, you soon need to rely on the Lord. Nothing like taking on a huge challenge to force you into reliance on Him.
And so I am living and breathing what mystified me. Can the Lord give blogs? Or books?
I now know He does because I am daily relying on him to do so. I am quiet, I try to centre myself in Christ, in the vine, and I write, often listening more than thinking.
I am currently working through an editor’s suggestions on a little book I wrote and love, which I believe God gave me. It wrote it rapidly, and it felt as if it was dictated by a force outside myself. More and more of my blogs feel dictated now. Written rapidly as if someone is dictating them, and perhaps He is.
I am experiencing something I so longed for, and which mystified me for so long. Thank you, Lord!