The another amazing healing and release I experienced at the Harnhill Centre for Christian Healing was in the creative arena.
I have had a couple of tries at doing book proposals for the memoir I am writing of my Indian Catholic childhood at adolescence. I am from a small, largely Catholic coastal town, Mangalore, converted by the Portuguese in the mid-sixteenth century. I went to boarding school in the Himalayas, run by German and Irish missionary nuns, where I was rebellious and an atheist, and after a religious conversion, I impulsively joined Mother Teresa, wanting to become a nun, lasting 14 months.
I found writing book proposals very difficult, and sweated blood doing them, as my father used to say about writing letters. Because my literary writing is just that, literary, I used to despair of converting something like a book of paintings, or a book of poems into a chapter by chapter outline, a necessary book marketing tool.
But unless I learn the art of writing a good book proposal, I will not have a conventional literary career, my book in bookstores for impulse buyers.
And I want and need one.
* * *
So I tried to do a book proposal, and froze up again as I had in the past, despairing of adequately representing all that richness in a page.
Somewhere, in the process of writing the proposal, I moved from healthy striving, which Brene Brown in Daring Greatly describes as being work-focused, asking “How can I improve the work?” to perfectionism, being “Other-focused” asking “What will they think?”
We discuss this, and I am actually in tears of frustration about this writing block.
And Gary, the South African counsellor, asks, “What does God think about your book?”
I think of my book, chapter by chapter, and I can see God smile. He remembers the richness of the life I was describing. He was right there during it, and he likes the way I am remembering it, celebrating it, re-enjoying it. “God likes my book,” I say happily. “He likes it!”
I suddenly flash back to a beautiful memory. A Swedish YWAM team had come to Minneapolis where we lived in 1991-2, and performed a passionate, graceful dance interpretation of a worship song: “He’s the Lord of creation, and the Lord of my heart; Lord of the land and the sea.”
Their dance was worship. And I saw my writing as a dance of worship. I will worship my Lord with words dancing on the page.
* * *
And when I came home that changed my approach to my book.
I could write more happily, fluently, confidently, writing in the river of God’s power, that river flowing and coursing through me. When I am stressed, I slow down and ask that river to flow through me again.
I forgive whom I have to forgive. I repent of what I have to repent. I want NOTHING blocking the flow of the river of God’s life into me.
When I wrote on my own, I wrote the best I could. Now I write with Jesus’ power in me, with some of the mind of Christ, chatting to Jesus as I write, and knowing he likes what I am describing of the life he has given me, and when I have finished, he will say to me, as we say to our toddlers who have done their very best, very beautiful art, “It is very good.”
I am trying to create beauty, and need to focus on that, not on the gate-keeper’s reactions. The block of fear and paralysis that I could not adequately represent the book in a book proposal has been lifted.
* * *
And, incidentally, part of my trouble with book proposals was that I did them with a bad attitude, resenting the time taken away from literary work by this career necessity.
I received an excellent piece of advice last month from Brandy: the way around the book proposal block is not to grudge the time and effort it takes to create one, but to think of it as art itself and so do it whole-heartedly.
I think blocks are caused by a lack of confidence, by a false belief that we cannot do what, of course, we can jolly well do. And by a fear of adverse judgement.
The prayer minister at Harnhill mentioned that blocks are caused when we cannot forgive ourselves or other people in the area in which we are blocked. Ooh, that’s another can of worms for me to open!!