In my life I’ve often been told to quit whining so much about things. While people may not have used those exact words, they still got their message across in subtle or not so subtle ways. In fact, most of the time when people see that I’m down, they offer “helpful” little clichés that are meant to encourage but, in truth never really do. “Always look on the bright side of life!” “The sun will come out tomorrow!” “Pack up your troubles…etc. and smile, smile, smile!” They all seem so positive, but when I’m in a funk, especially about my writing, they all sound like a happy housewife from the 50s saying, “Have some milk and cookies and cheer up, young man!”
In defense of all writers out there, I wish to respond to all those Pollyannaish platitudes with a little insight into the complexities of our minds and hearts. For you see, to all those emotional cheerleaders out there, our attitudes may seem like somber brooding or disinterested aloofness; but to us, it’s really the black, boiling caldron of new ideas coalescing in the depths of our inner insanity. The writer’s way is often dark, confusing and full of fascinations that bubble up to the surface of our minds in strange and wonderful ways. I’ve often thought that we must dream differently than the rest of the world; at least I figure I must by the strange looks I get when I relay a nighttime inner journey to my family or friends. But I assure you, it’s all a necessary part of the process of creativity. Without our times of brooding, discouragement, darkness and downright despair, we would never come up with most of the things we write.
I’m not saying that writers are unhappy people. Actually, most of the time, I find myself in my own little happy place, safely locked away from the cares and concerns of the world. I try to love others and see the beauty in their souls. But lately I find the world creeping in more and more with its evils and irrationality. I look at the nature of war and the devastation of natural disasters and it overwhelms me with sorrow. I see the cold and callous ways of people who are so lost in their own struggles that they think the world must revolve around them. And politics? I don’t even try to understand it anymore. I just put my index finger up to my lips and move it up and down as I make a helpless blubbering sound. It’s madness…sheer madness! But how do I cope and respond to this calamity and chaos? It’s the way of my writer’s whining!
By looking at my circumstances and inwardly complaining about them, I actually do a beautiful service to the world! By taking the tragedy and troubles around me and letting them ferment in the inner cellars of my psyche, I gain a new perspective on them. As I wrestle with the difficulties of living and the brokenness of this world, I begin to draw from the beautiful Spirit of God that lives and moves within me and I connect to the truth of eternity. It allows me to take off the glasses that cause me to see everything as either desperately hopeless or prosaically rosy and view life as it is: an imperfect reality populated by beautiful and broken individuals; sometimes dangerous, sometimes fascinating; and a journey with a narrow road that leads to better ways ahead.
When I spend time stirring up the mix of emotional soup in my soul, what comes out is often so incredible that I absolutely know it has come from heaven and not my own prideful ambitions and shattered dreams. I see how God can take the worst of this world, sift it through His loving hands and let it spill out over me in waves of new understanding. And the words that result help me to share my new perspective with others in a way that brings healing and joy.
Now, while this may sound wonderful, for the writer, it’s often a very painful process. It’s often so overwhelming that at times I look at my writing as though it’s all an illusion – something that doesn’t seem real or even meaningful. Because of the way our writing minds work, there may be no one, except perhaps another writer, who will ever fully understand the journeys we take down those dark roads towards the light of new ideas. We would rather avoid them and stay in a place of superficiality and relative calm, but when tough times come around and the television reminds us of the wars we humans wage on the battlefield of life, those who write find we just have to get down in the trenches with our thoughts and struggle against the enemy of our souls and our own weaknesses and worries. It’s who we are and we can’t avoid it. We cannot rest until we work through the worldly forest of gloom and doom and come out to the bright valleys of insight and the heights of new understanding on the other side. And then we must push on further still until we put those new insights down on paper or computer screen for all the world to see.
I’ll close with this. Writers have been people gifted by God with a curse: the curse of taking in the world’s brokenness and letting it sift like sand through our souls until we pick it up, add a little Living Water and build something meaningful for others to see. For my fellow writers out there, as you struggle with your own journey and the weariness of this world, don’t ever forget that you have a special calling. You have been made to make sense of this world and to point the way to the One who is moving it all along in His divine plan toward a perfect tomorrow where all the sadness will give way to the light of an endless new day. God bless!