Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)
TITLE: We Keep Hearing Voices
By Noel Mitaxa
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Like it or not, writers live in two worlds.
There’s the one we see and share with everyone else, and then there’s the fantasyland that psychologist Denis Waitley calls “Someday Isle”: “someday isle” get fit; “someday isle” lose weight; “someday isle” start that course; or “someday isle” write a book.
Every day we explore our “Someday Isle,” a second world that’s shaped and sharpened by voices we hear from our reading, our media choices, our entertainment and our active or overheard conversations. These voices trigger our ideas, distil our characters and formulate our plots, sub-plots and strategies. They also equip our inner voices with the reality that welcomes readers to explore this second world with us.
In extending our readers; and hopefully our readership; telling them what to think is not enough. We must show them how to think - and to enjoy the process as we set sail through familiar or uncharted waters of imagination or reality. And since people think more often from their emotions than by logic alone, we need to ensure that our words also link with their world, lest we lose their interest or their loyalty.
Our greatest words have limited power, for they cannot always encapsulate the experiences or hopes that attract readers to what we write. Metaphors, poems or word pictures can open doors, but we need to keep listening, lest our creative efforts go horribly wrong - like describing a popular location as “a mecca for Jews.”
Listening is so important, to avoid well-meant but fruitless exercises, like the writer who spent months searching for whichever fifteen churches Michelangelo must have painted before becoming famous. Simply because he’d mistaken the “Sistine Chapel” for a ‘sixteenth’ chapel!
We face deadlines and rejections; we endure freeloading fans; and we participate with colleagues in writers’ groups – in person or on line. Here we can question and affirm each other; so we may stay focused against the distractions and the delusions that our isolation can invite into our required times for doing what we say we do: write.
Looking at our blank screens, we may silently boast about gazing on a multiple masterpiece: a profile of writer’s block; a panoramic view of a blizzard; a close-up of a surrender flag; a list of eagerly-offered confessions from Mafia dons; a logical explanation of racial prejudice; a verbatim report from French mime artist Marcel Marceau’s press conference; or a full libretto of a cantata composed and performed by a choir of Trappist monks.
But how could you imagine marketing any of that without breaking the eleventh commandment: “Thou shalt not kid thyself!”
We face our critics, who are people like us, though at times it’s easy to wonder if that is strictly true.
Some critics seem so pedantic that you could picture them complaining about punctuation marks missing from alphabet soup. Others act like self-made men – who worship their creators! One of these was collared by an eager young writer who blurted out: “I hope you’ve read my last book!”
His withering reply came as a terse: “I sincerely hope I have!”
So why do we write?
Some may be pregnant with a rival to the “Da Vinci Code,” or a series of James Bond books or movie scripts, or an anthology of plays that would shake Shakespeare from his pedestal. But dollar signs in our eyes can blind us to the decades that overnight success can consume before it arrives.
As Christian writers, we may sometimes feel like Sisyphus, the Greek hero who had declared himself smarter than Zeus. His eternal punishment from the gods was to keep rolling a boulder up a hill, only to have it constantly roll back down again so he start all over again.
We know that it’s impossible to fully explain the hope within us, but we see the variety of Jesus’ approaches with those he met or allowed to approach him. None of those encounters records the complete gospel, yet we hear God’s call and accept his trust to release his light; so any of our readers may take clearer steps in their journey towards him or together with him.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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