Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Challenge

There’s probably nothing better than a couple hundred miles of empty freeway to allow my mind to reflect and process.  Well, maybe not so empty with the beginning of the Easter and Spring Break vacation travelers finding their way back home.  But in between the little old lady in the Ford Taurus who clearly hadn’t figured out how to operate her cruise control and continual need to use my windshield wash to clear away the road grime spraying up from the wet roadway, my mind did find some time to think about the weekend.

I’d spent the past four days with my Sister Deb and her husband Walt and highlight was attending a Christian Writer’s conference on Saturday.  I was hoping that it would provide the catalyst that I’ve so greatly needed to jump-start my writing again.  The presenters were outstanding and all seemed to chant a common mantra…one I didn’t really seem to want to hear.  “Write!  Write!  Write!”  That seems all well and good but the struggle that I’ve been facing…the obstacle that I can’t seem to find my way around or over or under has been what to write. 

I’ve felt a calling to write my book since I got out of prison.  My life is in many ways unique, but also in many ways like the lives of many people in our society that haven’t faced their life yet.  It’s a story that I think should be told as do some of the closest people in my life…most notably my companion at the conference, Deb.  But several of the presenters challenged us with the same question.  Why?

That one word rolled around in my head for the past 150 miles.  Why do I want to write this book?  Why should I write this book?  Why should I think that the story I could tell would be important enough for someone to pick up and read, let alone pay $15 or more to purchase it?  That question still challenges me.

I believe my struggle that I wrestle with is that I have two stories that are fighting to get out.  They are related with some common threads but I don’t believe they belong in the same story.  I’m not sure which one I’m supposed to write.

Even when I was in prison, before I was introduced to writing again by my Sister I felt called to write a book.  Deb asked me this weekend if I would have written a book if I hadn’t gone to prison.  I wasn’t sure of the answer when she asked it, but in reflection the answer is yes.  My ex-wife Paula has reminded me several times that I’ve always wanted to write a book after I retired from education.   I didn’t know what it would be about, but the desire has always been there. 

As Deb prepared a wonderful breakfast this morning of bacon and sausage, frittata and our Mom’s coffee cake, she made a statement that set me back and probably started the wheels turning on my drive home.  She said that is seemed like I had lost my passion to write.  The words actually stung like a sharp slap in the face.  Sometimes, slaps hurt.  But sometimes, they wake up you up.  This was a “wake up” slap.  I doubt that was Deb’s intent when she made the statement…really more of an observation than an accusation.  But it did have the effect of leading me into a time of reflection.  I DO love to write.  And I believe that it is one of the many gifts that God has given me.  I know that I’ve squandered some of His gifts.  Some, I’ve just simply never opened out of fear or shame; I’m not certain which.

The trip home didn’t end with a beautiful rainbow sneaking through the light mist of rain that was falling and miraculously answer my question about which story I am supposed to write.  But it did end with me at the keyboard…answering a calling that I know I’m intended to answer.  Finding myself facing a challenge in the only way that I know how.  I respond and meet it head on.

1 comment:

Deb Shucka said...

I am so proud of you! And as excited for your future as a writer as I am for my own. My heart expanded a bit as I read that you want to write, and feel called to it, that it's a gift you've been given. As for which story to write, my suggestion - big surprise I'm sure - is to write them both. It doesn't really matter which. Once you start to write, God will lead you where you need to go. And, yes, I do hear my own advice. I love you.