Some of my blog posts are planned out–for example, the one I wrote at the end of the year about my favorite reads from 2017. Others are more spontaneous, born from my thoughts during the day. This post is of the latter type, and four different occurrences have brought it about.
I moved to a new city a few months ago and–for much of that time–I’ve been a hermit. This is an okay lifestyle for me at most times, being the introvert that I am, but I figured I should step out of my comfort zone and explore what this place has to offer. Of course, my first course of action was to look at the public library website, where I found a biweekly event for writers. Much to my surprise, I actually got out of my house and attended the event as planned and actually enjoyed it. It was nice to meet people from the area who were interested in writing and in story telling. At the end of the meeting, we were given a writing prompt to get our creative juices flowing. Which leads to–
A quote I read on Paul Angone’s Facebook page today. It reads:
“It’s easy to follow instructions. It’s hard to create your own.”
In light of my new writing goals, I’ve come to realize that this statement is so very true. It has been a long time since I’ve written anything “creative.” I can whip out an academic paper fairly easily (excluding the stress of researching and organizing). The actual writing of the paper is laid out. There are instructions, a generally accepted layout to follow, and other simple rules that make the author sound academic and professional. With creative writing, however, there are no rules, no instructions. Writing creatively means that you get to make your own rules, and even break them if you feel like it. Though I’ve done this before, it has been so long since I’ve written any sort of fictional story. Academic writing seems to have beaten the creativity out of my writing. It’s a little scary, even though it’s just for fun, trying to remember what creative writing looks like. This means facing a blank sheet of paper with the intention of filling it up with words, but with no idea how to move forward or where my next steps will take me.
Third and Fourth–
These next two instances, which actually both occurred within the past few hours, have made me realize that living life is a lot like trying to write creatively. Earlier this evening, I received a message from one of my old work buddies about an inside joke we used to have. Receiving this message brought a wave of homesickness over me and got me to thinking thoughts like “Why did I choose to come here in the first place?” This thought ties into the fourth occurrence. Earlier this even, I was watching a Tolkien and Lewis documentary (yes, I’m a literary nerd), and one of the interviewees pointed out that many of the characters in The Lord of the Rings are lost at one point or another. They don’t know where they are, how they got there, or what to do next. But they never remain lost. They simple go forward with what they’ve got. This, the interviewee continues, is something that people can relate to. And, boy, is he right.
Living life, just as with writing creative fiction, requires a little faith. As I’ve been writing, the song “Your Hands” by JJ Heller started playing, and some of the lyrics go:
“I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine” (Heller 2008).
It’s like driving at night. I hate driving at night, especially on the highway. I can see the road right in front of me and, based on the lights that I see in the distance, I know that the road will curve at some point, but I don’t know when or how. And that freaks me out a little bit. But it’s a comfort, both on the road and in life, to know that God knows how I’ll end up where, and all I’m required to do is move forward, just like the characters from The Lord of the Rings.
This also a lesson for writing creatively–to just take the first step and write. No instructions, no knowing the end results. Just do it. (I’m pointing at myself.)
In closing, I’d also like to share another lovely song that has played while I’ve been writing, but which applies to the subject at hand. Enjoy.
“Please let me make something beautiful
A thing that reminds us there’s good in the world” (Rector 2015).
Heller, JJ. 2008. “Your Hands.” Painted Red. Stone Table Records.
Rector, Ben. 2015. “Make Something Beautiful.” Brand New. Aptly Named Recordings, LLC.