Wholeness & creativity walk hand in hand

by Kristin on September 24, 2012

in Belief, doubt & hope

Photo by K. Tennant

I’ve felt a bit stuck lately, when it comes to my broader creative purpose. Every few days it feels like I can catch a glimpse of it, like something far off and almost indicipherable on the other side of a canyon. I squint for a while, trying to make out its shape, then I look around for a way to get closer, so I can catch a better look. Then I sigh and turn back to whatever happens to be distracting me in the moment, hoping that shape on the other side of the canyon will either go away or somehow land magically in my lap.

It’s no coincidence (although I didn’t see the connection at the time) that my faith has also been feeling truncated. It isn’t a case of tension between me and God—there’s plenty of warmth there. I just sort of feel a distance, like I’ve been off traveling and we know we love each other but we can’t really connect—we can only send a quick text every so often.

These “stuck times” can be the best times to spend a few days at a conference, out of your routine, so the timing of STORY in Chicago last week was ideal. Rather than approach the conference with a clear objective and mission (I couldn’t, of course, because I was feeling stuck), I arrived completely open, unsure of what I expected or needed but hoping to find it.

The Moleskine journal I brought home at the end of the two-day event—almost completely filled up with notes—suggests I definitely found plenty of something. But what? Sorting through it all and figuring out how to ingest it is another matter. Rather than feel overwhelmed and stuck over that task for days, I decided to find one quote that really resonated with me from each of the main speakers I heard, and run with them. I’ll just throw them out there together and see what happens. (Btw, I’ve decided to not use quotation marks because some of these statements just represent the gist of what the speaker said, and in other cases they’re close to direct quotes but I’m not completely confident I was able to get every word.)

- From Erwin McManus: Is there really nothing new under the sun? If you’re living outside of God, I think that’s true. When you live your life inside of God, you’re part of the creative order. Life outside of that creative order is empty and mundane, like it was at that time for King Solomon.

- From Isaac Rentz: We romanticize creativity and art. We need to accept that creating is hard. It’s supposed to be full of obstacles. It’s easy to get comfortable in our niches, but often we find our voice only when we take creative risks.

- From Anne Lamott: Think about one day’s work—not where it’s going, but just what you need to do today. The big picture can overwhelm you and shut you down.

- From Kyle Idleman: Do I have an audience of one or an audience of many? Who am I doing this for? You do what God gifted you to do for God, not for an audience of many.

- From Phil Vischer: Wondering where I’ll be in 10 or 20 years is none of my business. Asking God what he has for me today is my only business—it’s all that matters. When you let go of your plans, you find God.

Yes. These thoughts resonated because they both point to canyon and they provide bridges that will help me begin to cross it.

The canyon: My faith and my creativity are intrinsically linked, but too often I compartmentalize them. The bridge: Being in communion with my creator.

The canyon: I keep forgetting that being a good writer means writing is harder, not easier. It’s dangerous, not safe. The bridge: Being willing to write the hard stuff—and keep writing it, again and again, until you get it right.

The canyon: When it comes to my book project, the big, final picture is paralyzing me—it’s getting in the way of whatever it is that I need to write today. The bridge: Asking God to give me this day, my daily bread, and then offer whatever I am able to create on this day to him.

The canyon: I’m too distracted and shaped by the voices and reactions of others, whether they are criticizing or complimenting my work. The bridge: Reminding myself daily to write, in honesty and truth, for the one who created me with these gifts.

The canyon: All the expectations and plans I have for myself, as a writer, could be keeping me from God and what he really wants me to do. The bridge: Opening my hands, letting go of the things I cling to so tightly, and seeing what God has for me to do, each day.

It won’t be easy, but as Rachel Held Evans pointed out during her STORY talk about her new book (A Year of Biblical Womanhood), we are women of valor—strong, brave, and loved and gifted by God. Eshet chayil!

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  • http://www.fromtwotoone.com from two to one

    One day at a time and writing for an audience of One. It’s so hard to get distracted though, no?

    By the way, it was so great to meet you again finally!

  • Leanne Penny

    Well written from a lovely perspective. I have been feeling the canyon as well and the sporadic texting also seems to describe my relationship with God.

    This weekend was a bridge and a bandaid. So lovely to have met you :)

    (send kale recipes!)

  • http://jenniferluitwieler.com jen

    Funny that we both chose to highlight quotes in our posts. I have so much more to ingest, to use your term. Smart lady. I like the image, too, of canyons and bridges. I wonder if I trust the canyon more than I trust the bridge?

    As a side note, there is a chapter in my novel that nearly killed me. That is what I think of when I hear “writing/creativity is hard.” Yes. It takes something from us. And it is a price I’m willing to pay.

  • http://www.jenwritesstuff.com Jen

    Phil Vischer! He spoke at Hutchmoot too, and it was wonderful. I feel connected! :)

    And thank you for sharing these. I can relate.

  • http://www.terrybernardini.blogspot.com Terry Bernardini

    Each comment and your post were meaningful to me. I don’t know why I want smooth sailing so much. My husband and I are novice sailors, and one thing I know is that the only way to sail fast and well is after sailing many, many times in either no wind or rough wind. It’s just that way.

  • http://www.terrybernardini.blogspot.com Terry Bernardini

    I meant “quote”, not “comment”.

  • http://www.10minutewriter.com Katharine

    This was very encouraging. I’m so glad I read this. I wish I had gone to STORY.

    Today I have to take care of my writing goals and some of the things I have to do are new to me, so they’re hard. This post built me up with courage enough to face them. Thank you!

  • http://www.leighkramer.com HopefulLeigh

    Love hearing what stood out to people and what they got out of STORY personally. I hate that I wasn’t there! Next year or bust.

  • http://www.beingabranch.com Erin

    There are so many of these quotes that I need to read on repeat like every day. I get so overwhelmed by my writing and all that I want it to be. Love your canyons and your bridges, as many of them are mine, too.

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com Kristin T.

    from two to one, YES! It’s SO easy to get distracted. I was just thinking this morning that I’ve already abandoned my lame attempts at having an “audience of one” viewpoint. Guess I’ll have to pick that one up daily, and try again. (It was so great hanging out with you, too!)

    Leanne, I love this: “This weekend was a bridge and a bandaid.” I’m glad we met and glad you got so much of what you needed right now at STORY. (And when it comes to kale, you really can’t go wrong as long as it includes bacon and garlic! Just saute a bunch of that trio together then toss it with pasta or add it to a quesadilla. Yum.)

    jen, this is a good question: “I wonder if I trust the canyon more than I trust the bridge?” Bethany and I were sort of tweeting about this yesterday. At least the canyon allows me to stand there, helpless; the bridge puts the action back in my court.

    Jen, how fun that we both heard him speak, several states away! I had never heard him before, but I was talking to someone else at the conference who had, and he said this talk was amazing—a whole new topic and approach.

    Terry, your sailing metaphor is great—sounds like something you should write about! :) I’m glad I could share bits of this conference with you. Happy writing!

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