Saturday, November 1, 2014

Essay a Day #15: Ford the Jordan

Drafter's Note: I write this yesterday! Honest. Just didn't get it posted...

It's the last day of the month, and I only just barely have done half of what I set out to do--a post every other day, on average, instead of every day. This, in one kind of light, is failure--but in several other lights, success:
     I wrote far more than I otherwise would have.
     I was encouraged and buoyed by friends and strangers.
     I worked harder at writing than I have in months, maybe years.
But I think the largest success, for me--and the reason that, as of tomorrow (today), I'm taking part in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) with a goal, again, of writing a post each day--is this: that it has made me remember (not in a sais way but in a connais way--see paragraph four here) that writing isn't all pretty. Sometimes the words don't come like I want them to. Sometimes I trip and fumble and have nothing sensical to put down. And the perfectionist in me answers, "Then stop. Take a break. Wait until the juices pool enough to do this well." But any writer--any real writer--will tell you this isn't how it works. You don't wait for it to show up; you work until it does.

Two quick buttresses to this idea that have come to mind recently:
   1) The first is one of my favorite moments in the Old Testament, which I was thinking of earlier this week. The narrative of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea is more familiar--the intricacies of translation will tell you that their sandals hit dry ground. But for most applications in my life, I prefer a similar but different story: those people's children, their sandals having crossed forty years' worth of dry ground in the wilderness, wait on the edge of the place God has promised them. Joshua leads them toward the Jordan River, too strong to ford on their own. They take the first several steps in, and the water remains--slipping stones, sinking silt, frothing rapids. It is not until several steps more that they realize the water isn't climbing their thighs like it should, and several more again before they see bare, wet skin: the waters receded just the same, but this time they had to move first. Had they waited on the shore, afraid of getting their feet wet, expecting the same provision as their parents, they would have died in exile and shame. No less a miracle, but they had to participate to see it happen.
   2) I'm reading a book right now, larger than my Bible and nearly as fantastical. As I was just reading, the hot-and-cold enthusiasm of a character is given detail in his pursuit of poetry: that he had an exceptional first day at it, writing feverishly, pages scattering to the floor in the fury. "He was very delighted with everything he wrote," the narrator explains, and this, in a glance, is what the writer longs for, what I long for. But the second day, begun as the first, ends midway through, the poet becoming stuck on a pesky rhyme. "He struggled for an hour, could think of nothing, went for a ride to loosen his brains and never looked at his poem again."

This is how I am--a fury-writer until my toe hits a stone, and then I am distracted, over-busy, too important. And then I wonder why I haven't felt like writing in weeks. I sit on the beach watching the waves, never wondering about wandering into them.

So in this one little part of my life, in this small way, I am walking in. I am writing even when the rhyme doesn't work. I am committing, to myself and to a writing community. Will I fall short? Depend on it. But I will write anyway, because like any muscle, the hurt of overworking it feels better than the ache of lethargy.

I cannot wrap up this little Essay a Day journey without a few acknowledgements:
Thanks to my coworker, Sherlock buddy, and writing co-conspirator Zsofi, who alerted me to it in the first place.
Thanks to the EaD community, especially ringleader Chelsia, for their ideas and craft and accountability.
And thanks to you, who reads this--friend or stranger. Thank you for letting my words take you somewhere, even when the road is broken and winding and littered with typos.

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