Thursday, July 3, 2014

Gearing Up, after Forgetting

For many writers -- certainly including myself, and my sister Chandra, as frequently noted over at her blog -- the hardest part of writing is getting started, and getting started, and getting started again.  Yes, writer's block can be paralyzing in the midst of any project, but it's especially so at the beginning, and at each new beginning-over (or "reginning"?) when momentum has been lost, or not yet built up.  

I talked a little about this in my very first post, quoting other authors in support of the point; here, I'll do the same with Vincent Lam's words from a July 2012 interview with George Stromboulopoulos.  Every book project, Lam said, was akin to "jumping back into an abyss...the work of fiction is so intense, so personal, so demanding, that you have to be up for it. You know, it's got to be from you. Otherwise, it's not going to be right."  The principal fear, of course, is that it will never be right, that even if you've succeeded in writing before, you won't be able to repeat the feat on demand.  At some point in there, other priorities begin to crowd in, like they do, and suddenly your number of blog posts (for example) for a given month, or even a given year, is accusingly small.  And it becomes that much harder to start over again.  The lesson applies to other areas of life, too, but it's at least as clear in writing as in any other field.

But what can we do but pray, take a deep breath, and then pick ourselves up and start forward again?  I've heard and read Philippians 3 many times, but it's only today that I've noticed that the "one thing" Paul claims he does, in the marathon of his life and ministry, is forgetting.  Or at least the one thing begins with forgetting: "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13b-14).

So, following Paul (as imitating him, as he imitates his Lord, is much of what the rest of that letter is about), I choose to forget, and to strain forward, toward the prize.  Right now, as I continue to job-hunt and figure out what my spiritual and compositional rhythms will look like now that our home renovations are "done," the shape that "straining" forward takes may be choosing to go to bed earlier, to get up earlier, to have more time to reflect, read, and write before the demands of each day begin to make themselves known.  Probably to blog more consistently, too.  (Or at least to try.  Again.  Have I failed to do so before?  ...I forget.)

What is it that you need to forget?  And what will your "straining" look like? 


  1. Grrrr, I just wrote a super long comment and then the computer ate it. I'll try again later. But for now, I will say great post and excellent food for thought; and I, for one, always welcome the chance to read your writing no matter the frequency!

    1. Matthew Forrest Lowe "likes" this. ;) And he just copied (i.e. prepared to copy-and-paste) his long reply to your comment on the previous post, just in case his computer got hungry like yours did.