Wednesday, June 19, 2013

cloud chasing

Art is like beginning a sentence before you know its ending. The risks are obvious: you may never get to the end of the sentence at all- or having gotten there, you may not have said anything. . . 
Control, apparently, is not the answer. People who need certainty in their lives are less likely to make art that is risky, subversive, complicated, iffy, suggestive or spontaneous.
What's really needed is nothing more than a broad sense of what you are looking for, some strategy for how to find it, and an overriding willingness to embrace mistakes and surprises along the way. 

Simply put, making art is chancy- it doesn't mix well with predictability.

Uncertainty is the essential, inevitable and all-pervasive companion to your desire to make art. And tolerance for uncertainty is the prerequisite to succeeding.  (Art & Fear)

I spent the morning writing. And yesterday morning. And Monday morning.  

Oh, bless you Vacation Bible School!

It has been a very unexpected writing retreat. My children all went to VBS. All three of them. I had very low expectations for this week because the last time we attempted VBS one child ran out into the parking lot looking for me, and I was halfway through the grocery store when the church called and that was the end of VBS.

This year I had no idea that three year olds could attend. No idea! Josie wore a pink tutu on Monday because I thought I was only dropping her sisters off, but then her sweet little friend was staying and she wanted to stay too, and every day this week I am dropping off three children for three hours and heading to the library to write.


At this rate I only need thirteen more summers of VBS and my novel will be complete.

I decided that this would be the summer I ignore the children.

Okay, I won't really ignore them of course. But they don't need me like they used to. (Sleeping through the night, check. Potty trained, check. Not crying every five minutes .. . almost there).

I have had this "broad sense of what I am looking for" for a long time, but it seemed there were constant roadblocks. This felt at the time like failing, but I think that I was doing what I needed to do; the cloud was simply hovering. I needed to live in that season, and wait. I'm glad I did.

Virginia Wolf insisted that a woman needs money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. Why do I expect that I should be able to fit writing a novel into the sleepless margins of life with small children? ( Stephanie Meyer apparently can do it: I however cannot).

This summer I felt a renewed sense of purpose, what I needed was a strategy for how to do it. This came in the form of a friend who offered to watch my kids for six hours a week praise God from whom all blessings flow. And now there is VBS, and I am also trying to write for two good hours in the mornings.

I see now that the wait was not fruitless. I scrawled some of the important pieces to this story at the end of weary days.

And even this will likely be only for a season. And even if I do get a manuscript written over the next thirteen summers, there is a good chance it will never be published, or that it will be really terrible or that by 2029 book publishing won't even exist. There are many more productive things I could be doing with this time.

That's okay.

Because for now there is this cloud I'm chasing. And words that come to me in my sleep. And this holy happiness that feels a lot like fear and uncertainty and faith. 


Ruth said...

So happy for you and can't wait to buy your novel!

Corinne Cunningham said...

That is so awesome to have the drive, and a bit of time carved out to work :) I tried my hand at fiction recently... and just wasn't feeling it. I give you so much credit for going for it!