Blogger: Michelle Ule
Sitting in for Wendy Lawton who is at the International Christian Retailing Show today.
What is the purpose of your writing, particularly during the summer months when children may be home?
Do you have a focused goal, or do you take life more in stride, open to interruptions?
Does God play a role in your summer writing?
Traditionally, I take the summer off from my job to write. Several years ago, I spent that summer writing a novel, as yet unsold, called Waking Dreams of Hope.
It’s the story of a brilliant woman trapped by a pregnancy into a life she doesn’t want. Even though she knows she should appreciate it and recognizes God gave her the desire of her heart in another area– it just took a surprise pregnancy–she’s a wreck.
Her plans got interrupted.
Her frustration reflects years of my life (though not the pregnancy part).
I wrote that book sitting at this desk in our family room while life took place round about me. Several teenagers were home, young women lived with us, friends dropped by, the phone rang– it was seldom quiet and serene, though rich and full of life.
Every day I tapped away, crafting my story.
But because I was home, I also increased my volunteering. Whenever I had no plans to leave the house–“just write”–I often took an extra shift on a local crisis intervention hotline.
I talked to many people that summer, in my house, on the phone, and even online and in forums. Because I was there, I could listen and solve problems, make suggestions, oversee household projects and write my book.
Some days it was lovely.
Other days frustration built–I just wanted to write my book! Some of the book’s scenes left me weeping as I poured out the jumbled feelings of my heroine.
But then someone would ask, “Are we really out of peanut butter?”
While invisible steam erupted from my ears, I reminded myself, “they’ll be gone in a couple years. This is now. Take the time.”
I was better at it some days than others.
“Look down stairs. I’m sure I bought more jars.”
I’d type away, faster and faster as the troubles and anguish mounted for both the heroine and me.
A phone call and a woman in crisis. What was she going to do? Where was she going to go? Who would help her?
I listened. I made suggestions. Sometimes I cried.
And then I went back to the novel.
I got to the penultimate chapter by the end of the summer, 85,000 words in, and realized I didn’t like it.
“So what’s the deal here, Lord?” I whined. “What was this summer all about? Typing practice for me? I already type 120 words a minute, how much more speed do I need?”
God didn’t say anything.
I like to look at situations from a slightly different angle when I’m thwarted. I call it “turning the prism.” Was it possible God was doing something else that summer?
What if the Lord had engineered my life contrary to my expectations? What if my real purpose was to minister and he used the “excuse” of me writing a book so I would be available to others?
My novel languishes in cyber-space. I reread it recently and it’s actually pretty good, full of wisdom and truth. Maybe some day the story will bless readers
But the relationships strengthened, the babies born, the children fed, the grace bestowed –that work will last for eternity.
Many of my spiritual mentors–known through books–lived lives filled with interruptions. Biddy Chambers, Edith Schaeffer and Elisabeth Elliot all ran boarding houses and fed strangers, when they weren’t writing their books, praying, studying their Bibles and listening for God’s directions.
Their example put my interrupted experiences into perspective.
Sometimes–always on the hotline–I’m even gracious myself.
How about you? How do you react to interruptions?
What if the point of our lives, really, is a ministry of interruptions? Click to Tweet
Was I a writer a foot servant in the ministry of interruption? Click to Tweet
Maybe being interrupted, not the manuscript, was the point. >Click to Tweet