manic writer

I had lunch with my friend Brittane this week.  Brittane is tall and gorgeous and insightful and full of God’s strength.  She has her degree in psychology, and she has this perfect way of asking questions so that you almost feel like you’re getting free therapy while you hang out with her.  She’s a delight.

I was telling Brittane about the rollercoaster I can’t seem to get off … the high highs, the low lows, the sudden switches.  “I don’t mean to be blaise about this, since I hate when people are like, ‘I’m so OCD,’ but sometimes I wonder if I am manic depressive.”

Brittane, in her perfect way, nodded, listened, asked questions, offered insight until we stumbled upon one important fact: these days, my rollercoaster is only about my writing life.  Since my writing life is SO important to me, I wasn’t seeing the forest for the trees.  It felt important, like a hand-hold.  “Maybe it’s just what the writing life is like,” I said.  “It’s just a continual up-and-down.”

If it is, I’m on the rollercoaster for good.

Back in the office that afternoon, I read a quote on Donald Miller’s blog that fit so perfectly with our conversation.  It read:

To write is to struggle with your sanity, at times. And there will be bad days and you will feel defeated. This work is more difficult than climbing a mountain because you are doing it in the dark. I want to urge you to keep going. You matter and your words matter. By writing, you are saying to God I agree with you, you gave me a voice and the gift was not in vain. By writing, you are showing up on the stage of life rather than sitting in the comfortable theater seats (there is a time for both) and are casting your voice out toward an audience who is looking for a character to identify with, somebody to guide them through their own loneliness, no matter how transparent or hidden that loneliness is.

It was just what I needed to hear in that moment.  I will continue to write, to ride this rollercoaster, because I agree with God, that he gave me a voice and the gift was not in vain.

 

Keep Calm

I have never really been neutral about anything.  I am an extremist, and I feel things in my bones.

I sometimes have a hard time seeing that the current situation will likely change soon.  This is a burden given to me by obsessive-compulsive disorder.  We OCs think things will always feel this way.

I am a writer.  Creativity is like air to me.

All of these things combine, and you have me, this volatile, passionate artist whose highs are marvelous and whose lows are dark.  When writing is not going well, I sometimes think it will NEVER go well again.

Years of this rollercoaster should have proved to me that things will level out again.  I don’t have to rush every draft like a linebacker, don’t have to wrestle it into shape.  I can relax, breathe deeply, set it aside for a (short) time, think and pray and carry on.

the writing life

The writing life is a roller coaster.  Some days I feel confident in my writing skills and excited about the things that I am writing, and sometimes I think that I must be so blind and pretentious and disillusioned to think that I would ever write something beautiful enough to be published.  Right now, my roller coaster is going down … down … DOWN.

I set myself up for this, without even realizing I was doing it.  This weekend I went to Duluth with some writer friends, and in the same weekend, I asked for a critique of my manuscript’s first draft and I was re-reading The Fault in Our Stars.  This means that my story was ripped apart at the same time that I was engrossed in John Green’s masterpiece, a formula that adds up to believing that I am worthless as a writer and am wasting my time pursuing it all.

But I couldn’t quit if I wanted to.  And I don’t want to.

Euthanasia Coaster

It’s just hypothetical.  An art concept.

A rollercoaster that sends 24 people up a 500-meter rise and fall and then through seven consecutive loops, each smaller than the last, which racks up so much G-force that the person can’t sustain it and dies “with elegance and euphoria.”

I heard about it last summer, and I felt sick– a strange kind of sick.  A revulsion and a fear for our future, but also this bizarre fascination that has made me look it up many times over the nine months.

You can read all about it on Julijonas Urbonas’s website.  Let me know if it fills you with the same strange wonder and horror and disgust as it does me.

I have always been drawn to oddities, to things that are broken or are sick– because I am myself.  A broken, sick oddity, but covered in the blood of Christ.

the ups and the downs

Isn’t life as an obsessive-compulsive like riding a roller-coaster?  At least for myself, I found that I had really HIGH highs and really LOW lows.

I’ve just always been someone who really, really delights in the good moments, and when the bad times come, boy, do they ever hit hard!  And yet, I have never wanted to NOT celebrate those high points.  Some people have said that it would be better just to be stable, and I can see that, but MAN, I wanna feel JOY down to my toes when it’s there for the taking!

I think part of it is OCD and part of it is being a writer.  If you’re an artist, I bet you know what I mean!

About five days ago I posted that I had been moping in the depths of despair, worrying that I would always be a mediocre writer and wanting SO desperately to be great.  I put my project on hold indefinitely and spent the next five days creating new characters in my head, getting more and more excited about them as time went on.

Only five days after my horrendous sadness, having come face-to-face with my failures, THIS was my prayer last night:

Jesus,

Tonight is one of those nights where I am just THRILLED to be a writer.  How incredible that I get to PLAY around this way with absolutely no constraints but the ones I put on myself?!  I can name a character whatever I choose and make him/her act as I want and do as I please and have whatever history or hang-ups I can imagine.  And it’s up to me to invent feelings and family and conversations.  It’s so much power– and it’s given to writers.

I am blown away.  I am SO grateful to You, Lord, for making me as I am!  I pray EARNESTLY that my writing has a purpose and a message of hope and grace.  YOU.  I want to share You with the world through my writing.

Here we go, back on up … !