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.
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.