I’m often frustrated at the words I write. The words and ideas seems so grand and powerful in my head. Then comes the tricky business of translating ideas and words onto paper or onto computer. I try it out. The effort seems so flat and dull. I try again. I try again, and again and again. The words may become more clarified but I am rarely satisfied.
When it comes to writing, I’m inspired by the stereotypical tomboyish-girl protangists that I grew up reading and relating too, like Jo March with her short hair and genius burning. I wish I could imitate my childhood idols but my genius doesn’t burn. My frustrated genius fizzles instead. I wish I could lose all sense of reality and write a novel in the spaces of weeks. I want to be seen in that state of genius burning, focused, messy, but brilliant. I want recognition and attention, not for pity, but for talent. I want my name to be on books. I want the words to be mine. I try again. I try again and again. The effort seems so flat and dull compared to the grandeur in my head.
That desire has always been there but I’m slowly realising that the desire on its own is mostly selfish and all about me. I don’t often write words for creativity sake but for the sake of myself and expressing myself. The desire for success is my god. Again, the effort seems so dull and flat. I try again. I try again and again, but again.
I remind myself, I do not belong in a novel or in a tradition of brilliantly-written bright and independent young women. I don’t have the freedom of fiction but the limits of reality. I don’t have exceptional talent. Fame as an author won’t satisfy as an end. Expertise with words won’t come with the desire of success but rather hard work and reworking of the heart. Timothy Keller writes how ‘to love our success more than God and our neighbour hardens the heart, making us less able to feel and to sense’ (p.11). He argues this impairs our art. This selfish motivation can’t be leading the words I write.
But where does that lead me now? To not write is terrifying. Writing is not only creative life in me but surely this is what God created us to do; to breathe, to love, and to create? T.S. Elliot says in one of his poems The Chorus of the Rock ‘The Lord who created must wish us to create/ and employ our creation again to His service’ (p.112). Writing is my creation, which is merely creation in service to the Creator. The motivation is where I am at now. What can follow next is up for grabs. Who knows what future words we will write? Lord, may the words I write and act be motivated to love You and my neighbour.
Elliot, T.S., Selected Poems (1954) ‘Choruses From “The Rock”‘, Chorus IX, Faber and Faber Limited
Keller, T. (2014) Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, Hodder and Stoughton