IVP - Strangely Dim - Slow Trips & Sudden Urges

April 3, 2009

Slow Trips & Sudden Urges

We were recently put in contact with Kady Bram, a senior at Northwestern College who's about to complete her degrees in religion and writing & rhetoric. We discussed the practicalities and challenges of a "virtual internship," and decided it would be fun to experiment. So here's the first of a handful of guest posts from Kady, part of the "Likewise Generation," if we might coin a phrase and exploit an entire demographic.

Kady loves reading, writing and snuggling with a slobbery bulldog named Ellie. Be sure to post a comment and tell her hi.


Sometimes I get an immediate urge to write something down--a sentence, a description, perhaps even a single word that suddenly supersedes everything else I could or should be doing. Then, as soon as my pencil touches paper, one of two things happens: either I am overcome by a fast and persistent splashing of words that my fingers quickly splatter onto the page; or, as mysteriously as it began, the clarity gurgles away and I am left to stare at the few sad words I've left to drown on my blank sheet of paper.

I suppose you might compare these sudden urges (what those in creative circles call a visiting "muse") to those sudden stomach pains that send their victim rushing off to the bathroom for one of two, umm, outcomes. Such is my muse: it's as if I don't know I have to write until I have to write right now.

When the timing is just right and I'm in the right position to let the muse flow freely, the result can be distractingly wonderful: a mess of words from my mind gets put to rights at my fingertips. However, assigned writing is usually a different story: projects with pressing deadlines are rarely relieved by my spontaneous internal process. Sure, I might occasionally find myself aware of the perfect metaphor, say, to describe my one-armed, saggy dorm-room couch, but that in no way helps me to write the ten-page book review that's due next week.

The majority of my writing is slow, painstaking. A lot of my time these last four years of college has been spent in writing and revising . . . and then revising again. You might call it a honing craft, but I liken it to a horse-drawn buggy that plods along the side of the road: it may be passed by all number of vehicles, but it always, eventually, fortunately, gets where it needs to go. And slow drives can in themselves be inspiring--even create spaces where the trickle of a resistant epiphany can slowly begin to flow.

Despite their obvious distinctions, the slow drive and the sudden urge have one important thing in common. I know that wherever I may be--whether in the pinch of a deadline or in the throes of an ecstatic moment of clarity--I am always with the best of company.

Do not fear; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

It is wonderful for me to be reminded that my moments of inspiration are not the only times that God's gifts to me should be evident. I credit him with those moments when I feel no other purpose than to write what has been placed on my heart; but I can also recognize and appreciate him in all the other times that I sit down to write and get stuck. I know I have been blessed with a love for and ability to communicate through the written word. I also know that such abilities are cultivated over time, and therefore, they require patience, which is itself one of God's beautiful gifts. So I'm up for the long, slow drive--with the occasional pit stop--and I look forward to seeing what God has in store for the rest of our ride.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at April 3, 2009 8:28 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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