You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. ―
There have been periods in my life when I have written thousands of words each day. I’ve filled up journal after journal, written poems and devotional essays, letters, blog posts, whatever form I could find to express myself. These creative bursts feel so good. I mean SO good. They provide me a natural high where I feel euphoric. As Dad would say, “I don’t feel any pain anywhere. Not in my hair. Not in my fingernails. Nowhere.” It is quite beautiful and, while not always, I think the writing produced during these periods is likewise delightful.
Then there are other times. Times when words are missing. Sentences are partial. For every paragraph that appears on the screen, I backspace over two.
Tonight is one of those times. I don’t want to write. But I’ve come to realize that this is when I most need to. Writing is not just a luxury I engage in when I am on vacation from the real stuff of life. Writing is the real stuff of life. Writing is life. I write to live and I live to write. As Isaac Asimov put it —
I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.
There is a story about John Steinbeck that illustrates the essential vocation of writing. Steinbeck was playing golf with a friend of his father who was trying to convince little Johnny to pursue a more worthwhile career. The man was a surgeon. He said, “You know, I’ve been thinking I’d take a little time off one of these days and write a novel.” Steinbeck didn’t flinch. “Funny you should say that, I was thinking I would take some time off to perform an appendectomy.”
While the process of putting words on an empty screen can be excruciating, there is no greater feeling than the delight in giving birth to a completed work and sending it out into the world to live, breathe, and have its being. Today I submitted a draft of my second book — When Despair Meets Delight — to the printers. If all goes well, I will have the print version in my hands within two weeks. My plans are to take a road trip to Nashville, TN to pick up boxes of books already ordered and those which will be ordered soon.
It’s been a long, hard haul producing this book. I have cried out with shouts of joy and wailed with tears of sorrow and disappointment. But I am now confident that this difficult labor process was essential, that it will result in a greater and stronger work. Over the course of birthing it, I have reached out to distant lands for prayers and partnerships. I was driven to re-write portions of the book that were lacking. I was able to update ministry progress through the pandemic and the re-opening of facets of ministry. I conveyed a clearer sense of where my ministry had been, was now, and would be headed. These things took a couple of weeks of frenetic activity. Now that it is out of my hands, I feel a sense of peace that I have done my best and all will be well.
Robert Frost wrote ,
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.
I shed many tears in the writing of When Despair Meets Delight and there were many surprises. I hope you will enjoy with me this delightful adventure where feelings are real.
Order your autographed copy of When Despair Meets Delight: Stories to Cultivate Hope for Those Battling Mental Illness at whendespairmeetsdelight.com