Sunday, 11 October 2015
Catharsis or Calling? by Deborah Jenkins
Recently I've found it hard to write - harder than ever, in fact. Or should I say "challenging"? We're not allowed to use negatives in quite the same way as we used to, are we? So, I've found it challenging to write. There could be several reasons for this - significant change, lack of time, a few ICT hiccups, now mercifully sorted, and the usual humdinger of a virus to start the season.
But something tells me this is not the main reason. The most noticeable thing in my life, something I don't remember feeling in quite the same way, for a long time is - a certain all-round contentment. One of the big changes is a new job, where I have next to no responsibility, less hours and a truly harmonious working environment. It has struck me anew - we spend so much of our lives at work. If it's not a good place to be, over time, we can become worn down, thinned, our capacity to feel the smallest pleasure diminished. But the upside, for me, was it drove me to write.
My heart is to write fiction, and it's often when my own world feels out of control that the words flow freely in the make-believe ones. As if all the frustrations of life can be poured out, albeit through different scenarios, and ultimately resolved, when the real-life ones have yet to run their course. Sometimes for years at a time. When things are going well for me, the impulse to write becomes worn down, thinned, its capacity to create diminished. Does this make me a selfish writer?
Of course, all the books tell you it's not a matter of feeling, good or bad, when it comes to writing, but of discipline. Get that minimum word count done every day! Put time aside religiously (an interesting word). Find that writing routine! And undoubtedly this is true. We all make time for the things that matter. Success is 1% luck and 99% hard work. (And other platitudes) But that said, there must be situations, emotions, seasons of life (different for each one of us) that ice the creative cake and kick our writing to a new level. And however deluded we writers can be at times, I think deep down we know when we've written something good.
As believers, we can find another perspective on this. God uses all things in life, longing to breathe hope for ourselves and others into everything we experience, and write about. Our book of faith follows the adventures of those who love and hate life, at mountain tops and in valleys, at the best and worst times of their lives. Not forgetting in the everyday, the pedestrian - those bland hours which can sometimes be the hardest of all. And God, who famously uses raw materials to fashion gold from garbage (Joseph, David, Peter), has a habit of using whatever we give Him - the bad, the good, the ordinary - to make something unexpected and beautiful.
"Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38
Note to self: Give Him the good times too.
In what mood do you find yourself most productive for writing?
Click on the link to see the book on Amazon.
Deborah Jenkins is a primary school teacher and freelance writer who has written articles, devotional notes and short stories. She has recently completed a novella, The Evenness of Things, available as an Amazon e-book and is currently working on a full length novel.. Deborah loves hats, trees and small children. After years overseas with her family, she now lives in south-west London with her husband, a Baptist minister, and a cat called Oliver.