November 6, 2008

dancing with God

i posted this on my old blog. i thought this was a good time to re-post it.

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
-- Jack London

When I read this, it made me wonder where the story comes from.

Now, I have had this debate in my head and also with a friend of mine. How much of the story comes from me and how much comes from God? The opinion of one writer seems to be that the entire story comes from God. I get the impression from others that the entire story is in the writer's head and it requires hammering out the words every day to get the story out. According to Anne Lamott, the story is like broccoli and you have to listen to how the broccoli wants to be eaten. She also says that the writer is just the transcriptionist and that the story comes from the kid inside who lives in the basement, handing the writer page after page.


Obviously, God gave me a creative mind. And along the way, things have happened in my life that give me a certain perspective on the world. That perspective will influence the type of story I write, with all of its elements. I have watched numerous movies and from those, I have figured out what kinds of stories I like and what kinds of stories I don't like. My education has provided what I need as far as spelling and grammar instruction. I have read numerous books (perhaps too many?) telling me the right and wrong ways to write a story, and the essential elements of a story.

In all of this, I can see God's hand preparing me to write. And I can see His hand in healing me of some of my hang-ups so that I would actually try something as daring as writing. Also, He provided the vehicle for getting started - first through Brave Writer and then through NaNoWriMo.

My part was deciding to write. But He gave me the courage to start and the encouragement along the way to keep going. Certainly, it is up to me to keep my tookus in the chair and write, since God doesn't come down and type for me. Some days I just don't want to do that. I get stuck and I want inspiration to fall from the sky. Sometimes it does. And sometimes I have to write a thousand words to find out what I don't want to say.

So where does that leave me? Where does the story come from?

I was thinking that writing (or anything that God calls us to do) is like a dance, particularly a dance that requires a partner. The dance doesn't work unless both parties are willing to get on the floor and do the work to learn the dance. God is certainly willing for me to write. Am I willing to get on the floor with Him and risk looking foolish in front of people so that I can learn the steps? Thankfully, God already knows the steps and I believe He takes great pleasure in teaching them to me. And He likes that I make the choice to be His partner.

The cool thing about God is that He could do everything Himself, but from before creation, I believe He has wanted partners. Why else would He have told Adam and Eve to fill the earth and subdue it? The word subdue in the original Hebrew means "fierce mastery." God could have fiercly mastered creation by Himself, but He gave the job to us. And to me that implies partnership.

In the end, does it really matter where it comes from? I don't think so. I have found that God puts beauty and talent in us and then with tender humility, He steps back and says, "You're beautiful," as if He had nothing to do with it.

Or to quote from the movie Chariots of Fire, "...he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." What a wonderful thing to feel God's pleasure as I use the gifts and talents He has given me.

So I will keep looking for inspiration, sometimes waiting on God and sometimes going after it with a club, fiercly mastering my story (I can hear God saying, "Write this book and subdue it."). Either way, God gets the glory. He is my author and my finisher and every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

(As a post script, I am finding that even when I don't want to listen to the "dance instructor" or when I think it's time for me to sit out because I know I'm being uncooperative, God still wants to use me. For some reason, He still wants me in the dance. I'm glad He uses us in the middle of our shortcomings.)

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