Blogger: Cynthia Ruchti
Fruit loops? Not the cereal. The cycle.
Whether or not you adhere to the premise that the Bible is practical for daily life–pick a subject, any subject–I personally see a strong correlation between what it teaches and a writer’s success and contentment. As I pondered which of a dozen topics we could tackle today, the looping pattern of healthy fruit came to mind.
Galatians 5:22 tells us that the Spirit of God produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Consider with me how those virtues show up in the life of a “fruit-“ful writer.
The Fruit of LOVE.
What would happen if writers spent as much time concerned about the love they show as they do perfecting those cherished first three chapters? What if those who write for the Christian market watched for more than grammar and punctuation problems, more than “Have I tied up all the loose ends?” and also asked themselves, “Have I clearly shown the love of God? Is it obvious I love and care about my readers? Even when tackling a controversial subject, will my work reflect God’s love for those both far from and near to Him?”
The Fruit of JOY.
Have you met a joyless writer? They don’t make great dinner guests. Or clients. Joylessness shows up on the pages they write, too.
The Fruit of PEACE.
Is your life as a writer producing an abundant crop of peace? Or are you strangled by worry and uncertainty, and passing that on through your writing? Does a delay from a publisher rattle you? Are you stirred by what happens in the publishing world or shaken by it?
The Fruit of PATIENCE.
I used to think waiting for a book to be published was a lot like pregnancy. Positive pregnancy test. Whoo hoo! We’re going to have a baby! But…not yet. We’ll hold that baby in our arms after about nine months, with a lot of discomfort between “Whoo hoo!” and “One last push!” But it’s an inferior analogy in many ways because few pregnancies are allowed to go longer than a couple of weeks beyond the due date. Not so with writing. Writers in waiting can sometimes beat out an elephant’s year-and-a-half gestation period. Writers have been known to carry a book idea inside them for decades. Or longer. When an interviewer asks my best advice for aspiring writers, I always say, “Attend the best conference you can afford.” Then I add, “Write as hard as you can. And wait as hard as you can. You’ll need both skills.” Contented writers grow bushels of patience fruit.
The Fruit of KINDNESS.
The Fruit of GOODNESS.
Since the Bible lists kindness and goodness as two separate but complementary entities, let’s assume goodness in this case applies to integrity, honesty, and “doing good,” fruit that distinguishes stories with value and meaning, books worth reading, books that do good, not just do well.
The Fruit of GENTLENESS.
This far into the list, it isn’t hard to imagine how fruit like this can make a difference both in the life of an author and in what he or she creates. The apostle Paul wasn’t inspired to write, “You know…love, joy, peace, etc.” He spelled it out. Included gentleness in the list by name. Books & Such Literary Management is blessed with authors and agents who harvest bushels of gentleness fruit. They’re gentle with one another, with editors and publishers, and with readers. Strong, savvy, and gentle. Can you envision to-do lists that read, “Rewrite chapter two. Send requested proposal to agent. Listen to teaching tape on point of view. Work on gentleness”?
The Fruit of SELF-CONTROL.
I won’t mention the bowl of M&Ms or Jelly Belly candy on many a writing desk. How does the fruit of self-control reveal itself? In holding back an angry response to a thoughtless reviewer, receiving a critique without argument, thinking honorable thoughts about the editor who suggests a complete rewrite? Self-control certainly shows itself in writers who stay within the prescribed word count, making no excuses for why their book HAS to be 40,000 words over the limit. Who knew self-control would be so important for those who write?
Comments to this blog show that many of the Books & Such followers care about what the Bible has to say. They’ll see a spiritual connection as well as a daily life application. If that’s not you, consider these points from their practicality side. Whose writing life wouldn’t benefit from an ongoing loop of love, joy, peace, patience…?
Which of the above character virtues comes most easily for you? Which could use attention? Do you see other roles the loop of fruit plays in your path to or through publication?
And aren’t you glad I didn’t spell it loupe? Another metaphor entirely!
BONUS QUESTION: What persuasive role did the literary technique of asking questions play in this post?
Click to Tweet: What grows in a writer’s orchard?
There are so many loops to chase in this post, Cynthia. Thank you for my early morning calisthenics.
* Back in my school days, penmanship was a class. The workbook was filled with beautiful cursive letters. For warm-up, we’d make a series of loops on the line. My mother could do it perfectly. Hers looked like a Slinky. My childish loops were a mess.
* Writing and living, God doesn’t wait for my loops to be perfect before I move on to the real action. He writes his eternal story using my imperfect loops. But that doesn’t mean I get to skip the do-overs. Each do-over, in writing and in living, improves my self-control. My loops get better with practice.
Love this word picture, Shirlee.
Damon J. Gray
Cynthia, the “loop” with which I wrestle (and I really DO wrestle with this) is the loop of gentleness. (Great blog post BTW)
Many years ago – gosh more than 30, in fact – I was interviewing with a church in southern California. They wanted to start a campus ministry, and that’s what I was doing at the time. As the pastor and I were driving through his neighborhood, somehow we got on the subject of his impressions of me as a candidate, and I’ll never, ever forget his first response. He said, “Well, you’re a little brusque.”
That cut me so deeply, but I could not simply dismiss it. Whether I liked it or not, it WAS his impression, and over time, with painful introspection, I came to realize that he hit a bulls-eye. I am brusque. It is not just that I behave in that manner. I am, at my core, brusque, and I must always fight against that.
The fruit of the Spirit IS gentleness.
Thanks for the wonderfully challenging post.
Thank you, Damon. As with everything, we so often write about what we need as much as what we know.
* The fruit of joy is the most elusive for me so I made finding it the focus of my blog. My thought was, how can I encourage others to be joyful if I’m not?
* I’ve found the key is, as you said last week, to replace the bad for the good, just as diligently as I would search and destroy those aggravating red squiggles in my manuscript. 🙂
“Just as diligently.” Amen!
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Micah 6:8 is my life verse. I have it on a 2×3 foot painting hung on my wall. That way, even as I look at my laptop, that verse is literally right there, walking me through the hard parts of this gift.
Ah, but fruit?
I have a big blackberry bush in the back of my yard, also within my line of sight as I sit here, tapping away on the keys.
Blackberries are sweet, but the thorns that grab me when I tend the canes make the prize of blackberries all the sweeter. I get shredded unless I prepare carefully to go in there and labour. Actually, for real, painfully… shredded. Trickles of blood seeping through my clothes, and the sting when my sweat drips in and mixes into the cut. And the big sweet ones are ALWAYS in the middle!
Over this past winter, I thought most of my canes had died off. I had a lush crop last year, but all those brown and crumpled canes buried by the snow? They scared me.
But when spring came, and the blossoms flushed? Well, bumper crop!!
Yes, joy comes easily for me. Which is odd, since I write about incredible pain. Perhaps my path is so long because I need to understand patience a bit more? Or because I need to comprehend how long it takes to earn the right to be heard?
Whatever it is, I have no doubt that God knows exactly what He’s doing, and why I need to be in the orchard this long.
But, there is learning to be had in the waiting, and fun too!
I could see you walking to the middle of the patch, through the thorns, to get to the biggest, ripest fruit, Jennifer. Well done.
I admire and appreciate the care and grace and love that went into this post, Cynthia.
* Recently, I took an online test to find out which Star Trek character I most resemble, and the answer was…Khan (the Benedict Cumberbatch reboot, not Montalban).
* When I told Barb, she said, “Dear God!” And on reflection she continued, “Well, is does fit.”
* In a life that’s become, physically, a waking nightmare, I have to do everything I can to find a reason to go on. It’s all on me; the will to push through the wall.
* it does require a certain ruthlessness, mainly with myself, but it leaks out to touch those around me. Like Rufus, the centurion and camp-prefect described in Tacitus’ Annales, I have become all the more relentless because I’ve endured it myself…and force myself to keep on enduring.
* Maybe I’ve thrown away the orchard to build instead a thorn-hedge…or maybe, with more than a hint of implicit self-justification here, I’ve embraced all of the fruits in their wilder form. Would it be more gentle, after a night that I can only describe as hellish, to rest, or is true gentleness the enforced understanding that physical fitness is really the foundation on which mental and spiritual strength are built? Might it be the kinder thing to hit the push-up bench and chinning bar (all I can do these days) because pain is weakness being forced from the body, and blood truly does make the grass grow green?
* Does gentleness mean embracing the fact that to make it to tomorrow, I have to flog myself today?
* I don’t know the answer. At one point I thought I did, but after passing through so many gates I never thought I’d see, it’s all the gyre, all Scylla and Charybdis and the wine-dark sea, trying to drag me down.
* I’m sorry for the long and meandering comment; I’m usually (I hope) better than this. And after a night held suspended over the abyss, I do ask your prayers.
You have our prayers. And our respect. “Because pain is weakness being forced from the body, and blood truly does make the grass grow green.” Oh, Andrew. How you enrich our lives!
This post is amazing. Thank you. I value the time you took to write out specifically how each one looks in the life of an author. I am a visual learner and your examples are powerful. Thank you!
You’ve blessed me, Deborah. Thank you.
The thing I liked best about your questions in this post is that they felt inviting. You invited us to consider our fruit in a way that made me want to walk through the orchard. And, I felt that you were walking with me.
Thank you, Kathy. Sometimes nonfiction in particular can sound like pointing or wagging a finger, when we mean it to sound just as you said–walking alongside, inviting others to consider…
Thank you for your thoughtful, fresh perspective. Your words reminded me of my own writing journey, as I tried to follow God’s direction for my life. He wasn’t always clear enough for me to understand, but He knew my efforts were genuine, if misguided. I’m finally realizing joy and peace, now that I search for them according to HIS will, not mine.
Lovely thoughts, Heidi.
Very thought-provoking, Cynthia. After 30+ years in a mostly male career where facts rule and getting something done on time and well mattered most, gentleness might be my lesser fruit. I was gentle compared to many colleagues, but not compared to many Christian ladies. But maybe that’s why I can write about living the faith in a brutal time like the Roman Empire. The research covers much that was cruel by today’s standards, although evil people today are doing the same and worse.
Living the faith in a brutal time. Yes. Too familiar.
Your questions definitely made me reflect on myself, my life. This post is wonderful, Cynthia. If I’ve struggled with any of these lately, it’s been peace. Peace over life’s fears. I started to say the lack of peace doesn’t apply to my writing. I don’t think it applies to my novels (I pray not), but reflecting, I guess that’s not entirely true because it applies to my writing career. I find my heart hurting in many ways, yet hopeful, too. Hurting deep in my heart’s desire. I guess I always want God’s plan to match up to mine, and well, that might not be the case. And now, I think I’ve stepped over into patience. 🙂
So insightful, Shelli!
I believe choosing to operate in the fruit of the Spirit is as much a choice as choosing to eat fruit for my health. The Spirit provides the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, etc. but it is my choice whether I choose to appropriate them and act upon them.
Just my opinion.
Confirmed by life experience. 🙂
I totally agree. I think too often people think the Holy Spirit has to give it to them specifically when in truth, He gives His fruit to all who follow Him. Similar to a relative giving a large amount of money and the recipient never using it. How silly would that be?
Your questions kept me engaged and led me to apply the topic to my life. Thank you for thought-provoking challenges. More self-control with time use and exercise will enhance my writing and daily life.
Great answers, Jeannie.
Elizabeth Bohan (ej bohan)
Oh, I loved this post because the fruit of the spirit is so important to cultivate in the garden of our hearts. The fragrance of the fruit so irrisistable, no one wants to leave that place. I strive to make my heart and inner being like a beautiful garden where God can come and commune with me. My heart breaks for Him at how so many mistreat Him, deny Him, curse and betray Him. My beloved rescued me long ago, I will always seek to have a heart He can enjoy. I am not perfect, but I endeavor to keep my garden blossoming and bearing fruit all the way to heaven.
Your persuasive techniques and questions lead us to think of how we relate with others as we work together in changing lives through words and actions which should reflect the fruit as listed in Galations 5:22.
Thank you so much for this post.
Good thoughts, Elizabeth.
I love that you connected the fruits of God’s spirit into the writing life. Never thought about that before. Well done!
The concept continues to make me think! Thanks, Karen.