As promised, here is the post I was too lazy to finish last week, which is pretty much the story of my life. Anyway, today, I’m going to share something sensible for a change. Wait, you say, sensible? Do you even know how to do that?
Between you and me, no. No I don’t. We’ll see if this is an epic flop or not.
For those of you who somehow aren’t aware, I’ve been writing a novel for the last two years. When I started, I was young and naive, and under the impression that people sit down and simply ‘write a book’.
I was so innocent back then.
There are mechanics, people. If you don’t know the mechanics, your book fails, and you sink into the slums of poverty and failure.
In short, I wrote the worst book that has probably ever been written. Worse than Redwall. (I hate Redwall, for those of you who are interested. There is no way I can ever form an emotional connection with a rat.) This last year has been spent unwriting what I wrote and rewriting the entire thing, that including everything from plot to characters to structure to villains. It all went, and even now I am still attempting to wake a fire from the ashes. (If you know a certain poem Tolkien wrote, you will know that this is possible. If you don’t know the poem, shame on you.) Why don’t I just trash the entire thing and write something new, you ask? Well I would, but I’ve got this character named Lotch, and she is the greatest triumph of my entire life. I can’t trash her. I simply can’t.
The problem is, these last six months, I’ve been suffering from the greatest blight known to writer kind. You know it as Writers’ Block. We know it as the Black Death.
Let me explain some things about writers’ block. Yes, it is a sudden and incurable drain of creative energy. Yes, when one has it, they cannot, literally CANNOT write. I’ve spent an hour writing a single sentence once. And please, for your sake, never, never NEVER tell a writer suffering from writers’ block to “just write”.
They will kill you.
But I find what is really horrible about it is the despair. When you’re in writers’ block, you don’t know when you’ll get out. You don’t know if you’ll ever get out. You find yourself desperately longing to write, yet hating the sight of your book. Every time you open it, the words you can’t find seem to mock you, reminding you that they aren’t yours, that they’ll never be yours. (That was rather poetic of me, wasn’t it?)
Of course, writing comes with a certain amount of struggle, but the difference between the writers’ block struggle and the un-writers’ block struggle is that the un-writers’ block struggle is fun, and the writers’ block struggle is NOT.
According to someone who I’m pretty sure is famous, “Writers’ block leads to despair, despair leads to stress, and stress leads to the Dark Side.”
*cue Darth Vader music*
Well, I had gotten to the stress part. And just so we’re clear, I don’t stress. Ever. That’s how big a deal this was. My wall was becoming riddled with holes that I accidentally made when I banged my head into it.
Then last month, my family began working our way through a series of messages by Otto Koning. If you are not familiar with the name, GO LOOK HIM UP and listen to “The Pineapple Story”. He has changed my life. Here be a link. (Because I’m totally not pressuring you to do anything.) Messages by Otto Koning
Anyway, to summarize, Mr. Koning used to be a missionary to the tribes of Irian Jaya. While he was living in some remote village in the jungle, he tried his hand at growing pineapples. The problem was, the natives were chronic thieves, and would steal his pineapples before he could get the chance to eat them. In fact, the natives stole just about everything this poor guy owned and drove him crazy in the process. What did that lead to? Stress. Where does stress lead to? You guessed it; the Dark Side.
Mr. Koning was beside himself. He tried everything—and I mean EVERYTHING—to protect his pineapples with no success. He just couldn’t get the natives to quit stealing his stuff. Finally, he came to the end of his rope. And for some reason, it’s only when people come to the end of their rope that they look to God. Look he did, and he ended up giving his entire pineapple field, as well as all his possessions, to God. “Lord,” he said, “if You want to let the natives steal Your pineapples, that’s none of my business.”
I’m trying not to give away spoilers here, but this directly links with my own story, so it’s hard. Go easy on me. The point is, God knows how to grow pineapples. In fact, God also knows how to protect his pineapples. And Otto Koning ended up with the best crop of unstolen pineapples that probably ever grew in Irian Jaya.
How does this apply to writers’ block, you ask? I’m getting there.
See, God doesn’t mind if we want to have pineapples, or write a good book. What He does mind is when those things become more important to us than Him. I always thought of idols as the golden calf or something, but in reality, they’re much more subtle. If you had asked me if my book was an idol for me, I probably would have laughed at you. But it was, people. It actually was. There for a while, I didn’t even see how The Pineapple Story applied to my writing. I mean, it was talking about stuff, not talents. Come on, is it even possible to give one’s talent to God?
Hint: It is.
We were about half way through the twelve message series, and up until that point, most of it had been about surrendering stuff. The whole time, I nodded my head and shot judgmental glances at my family, as though to say, “Do you hear this, children? Do what you’re told.”
I really think God has a sense of humor. Not ten minutes after the above thought flashed through my head, Otto’s voice boomed out of the speakers, saying, “Now let’s talk about surrendering our talents.”
I may have tried to look inconspicuous at that moment.
But really, I wasn’t opposed to the idea. Sure, God, I’ll give you my story. Then You’ll make it perfect and I can go on like nothing happened. So right then and there, I gave it away, and felt insanely pleased with myself forthwith. What a spiritual young person I was! I really had it all together.
I will admit, I might have gotten up the next morning and ran down to my computer, expecting the writers’ block to be magically gone.
Well of course not, I thought. Really, what was I trying to do, cheat the Lord? But the more I thought about it, I wondered: How do you actually give something to Him when you’re expecting Him to bless you for it?
And here’s the thing: You can’t expect Him to bless you. When you have fully recognized the fact that you will be in God-ordained writers’ block for the rest of your life, and you’re okay with that, then you have officially given it up. And once I came to that point, something weird happened.
The stress was gone.
Yes, I still had a mess of a story. Yes, my main character was still flat, my theme was nonexistent, and my story was so riddled with plot holes it looked like a block of Swiss cheese. But that wasn’t my problem anymore. The story wasn’t mine, so it was no longer up to me to make it better. All I was required to do was sit back and relax as I waited for God to do the hard stuff.
I had been in writers’ block for six months. Six months of writing depression and stress. I almost didn’t know what it was like to not carry that burden.
Basically, it was great.
And you know what? I had totally forgotten that God knows how to write books. I mean come on, He is The Great Author. His Book is the most famous book in the entire world. Why did I think that He couldn’t handle mine?
Before I continue, I’m just going to reaffirm: This is a true story. No matter how crazy the following might be, I swear it actually happened.
I went to bed that night, feeling incredibly hopeful for the future, which hadn’t happened in…well, a long time, okay? I couldn’t really sleep, but at least my sleeplessness was just sleeplessness, and not freaking out. Slowly, my mind turned from cat snot and baseball hats to my story, and I calmly contemplated a few elements. Just peaceful contemplation, mind you, nothing more.
In literally ten minutes of peaceful contemplation, every plot hole I had at that point was fixed. I am not joking. It was crazy. I just lay there, hyperventilating for the longest time.
Wow, you say, well it’s good to know you’re out of writers’ block.
In the words of Kylo Ren, “We’re not done yet.”
Stay tuned for whenever I decide to post the next half of this story! Like, tomorrow!