Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Dipping the Quill Deeper: The Moment that We Soar


by Eva Marie Everson @EvaMarieEverson

In her book, The Writing Life, Annie Dillard penned these words:

Putting a book together is interesting and exhilarating. It is sufficiently difficult and complex that it engages all your intelligence. It is life at its most free. Your freedom as a writer is not freedom of expression in the sense of wild blurting; you may not let rip. It is life at its most free, if you are fortunate enough to be able to try it …

A few days ago I took a few moments to chat with a fellow author. We had no agenda. We were not trying to encourage each other or critique each other or any of the other things that takes place when writers manage to find the time to chat. We were simply talking.

In the call, one of us mentioned our current work, specifically talking about that moment when, in the throes of fingers flying across the laptop’s keyboard, we feel that we have suddenly taken flight. That instance when, with all the creative juices swirling in full motion, the muse takes over and we soar.

This is a difficult thing to explain to someone who does not write. Perhaps to a singer we can say, “You know, that moment when you are lost in a song.” Or, to a painter, “That moment when your hand seems to know more about what to place on the canvas than your brain.”

For a fiction writer, these are the moments when the characters and the places we lead them (or they lead us) become so real we have difficulty separating fact from fiction. For the nonfiction writer, these are the moments when everything we hoped to say—everything we hoped to convey from the deepest part of our hearts—is suddenly swept from our thoughts to the stark white pages of a Word document.

Yes, this happens to the writer. But that doesn’t always mean that what we write during these “lift-off” moments is good. Or readable. Or printable. What this means is that we have given in to the words … the passion … the talent God has placed inside us and simply allowed them to become.

What should we do then? 

One of the most important—most responsible—things we should do (must do) as a writer is to walk away from our work long enough to look at it objectively. I prefer to do this in the early part of the day, shortly after my coffee has kicked in and before the phone begins its incessant ringing and dinging and the UPS delivery guy knocks at the door and the emails drop into my inbox faster than I can answer (or delete) them. 

I look for common errors. I read aloud, listening for repetitive words or sounds. Most importantly, I ask myself, “Does any of this make sense now that I’ve had time to sleep on it?”

There are times when we read our own words and wonder Did I write that? This can be asked in one of two ways. With a positive tone we are saying that we are amazed that such intelligent, inspiring, wonderous words came as the result of our work. Really? From little ole me? With a negative tone we are saying we cannot believe we ever thought such drivel could come from someone (us) who actually tries to make a living (or a fragment of a living) as a writer. 

I admit that I hear these words at a rate of about 50/50 per tone. 

Writing is a talent and a gift meant to be used and treasured. Writing is an art. But it is also an effort which requires much from the one performing it. We who have been called to write—who have been called to soar high while holding onto a pen—must admit, if only to ourselves, that sometimes, while flying, one hits a little turbulence. This is when we sit down, buckle up, and attempt to find smoother air. 

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Eva Marie Everson is the multiple award-winning and bestselling author of over 35 books, both fiction and nonfiction. She is the president of Word Weavers International and the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference and North Georgia Christian Writers Conference. Eva Marie and her husband make their home in Central Florida where they enjoy a lake view, their children, and grandchildren. They are owned by a very small dog.

13 comments:

  1. How descriptive the process Ms. Eva Marie. I love those "soaring" moments, but know for my writing to ever see the light of day and hit the target God intends it for, I have to get "into the trenches" and do the hard work of writing. Thank you so much for helping me understand the cycle we go through. Something I do after I've written a section or article, and let it set for the compulsory two days or more, is use a tool to read my text aloud to me. I find more mistakes that way than I do editing hard copy. God's blessings ma'am.

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    1. Thank you, Jim! Yes … we don't get it right the first time … and sometimes not the third or fourth … but we keep trying, keep editing, keep writing.

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  2. This encouraging post reminds me to lay the writing aside for awhile and come back to it rather than pressing to finish. Time changes perspective and yields a fresh assessment. Thank you, Eva Marie.

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  3. Every once in awhile I hit that soaring feeling. It makes me feel close to God, like I'm melding with His creativity.

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  4. Good thoughts! Reminds me of Eric Liddell's famous quote, "What I run, I feel His pleasure." It's such a privilege to be handling words in partnership with the Lord. May He help each of us in our writing efforts today to speak with His anointing!

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    1. Ah, Eric! You know, I wrote The Final Race with Rev. Eric Eichinger, no? :)

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  5. I used my writing in a different way today. Instead of writing for others, I did an exercise in writing a letter to myself for healing of guilt I've carried for over 40 years, never quite able to let go. I asked myself for forgiveness, chided myself for being prideful, but then the words took on life of their own. Without thinking about it, I wrote myself into visualizations of Jesus and His grace. When I signed it at the end, I reread the words, as though reading them from a friend. An aroma of grace filled the room and my heart. Words … of mercy, of hope, of healing. Did I write that? Or did Someone Else?

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  6. “What does it mean to have an aesthetic experience?” I would ask my college students each semester kicking off an art appreciation class. Defining aesthetics as the study of beauty, their answers hovered over some of the comments you’ve made here—(and including) becoming lost in the experience of a sunset, a song, a line of poetry or prose. It can then be said, “I had an aesthetic experience.” And then in the back of the room, a boys turns to look longingly at the cute coed across from him, and I see his lips mouth “I think I’m having an aesthetic experience!” Silly kids. Thank you Eva for a sweet walk down memory lane—a winding, woody walkway. You inspire me.

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  7. That instance when, with all the creative juices swirling in full motion, the muse takes over and we soar. --- Yes, been there!
    For a fiction writer, these are the moments when the characters and the places we lead them (or they lead us) become so real we have difficulty separating fact from fiction. --- and HERE too!
    There are times when we read our own words and wonder Did I write that? --- and have said this too.
    Amazing! I so thank God for it... and for you post that settles us down too.

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  8. My first children's book was published this week. The excitement of the book has me soaring. Now, I will concentrate on marketing, etc. I am writing Christian fiction stories, too. Also, working on a non-fiction idea. I pray for His guidance in all areas.

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