Monday, April 03, 2006

JK: Vexed and Blessed

Writer Wendell Berry once said of parenting that it was “a vexed privilege and a blessed trial.” I think that’s true of writing, too.

I do feel privileged to be able to tell the stories that grab hold of me. I do feel blessed beyond measure to have a husband who cooks and who has some special interests that help me with my writing (he’s a weapons expert which is great for someone who writes in the 1850s when guns were an everyday part of a character’s life; he’s a builder, plumber, electrician, photographer, cattleman, hunter, gardener…and amazingly, he remembers what he reads, unlike me). This writing is a privilege that is sometimes vexing, annoying when I can’t seem to put it aside to just enjoy time with my family, or to get lost in a good book while keeping my editing mind still.

And it is also a blessed trial. Like now while I’m in the middle of a novel and know it’s not working right. Is it BECAUSE it’s in the middle of the novel? (I’ve heard it referred to as “that muddle in the middle”). Or is there really something wrong here that will need major fixing? Sometimes, when I’m in the middle of a manuscript, while I feel blessed to be able to write it down, it also feels like I’m on a path that is littered with boulders I’d rather just go around. The idea that I might be coming back and have to deal with them again, well, that is vexing indeed.

So I’m reminded then of a book I read before we took the plunge and left our regular jobs to move to our isolated ranch in Oregon. It was a book about transitions, and it said that when we start a new journey (put manuscript here) we feel uncomfortable. In part it’s like crossing a street, and beginning something new is like stepping off of the curb. So we are not where we were (which was comfortable and known) but we are also not yet where we are going (the other side). We’re in the middle. And the worst thing we could do would be to sit down in the middle and think about it very much while cars go whizzing past us. Instead, we have to live with the discomfort and keep going until we reach our destination.

That’s a reminder to myself to get back to work. I’m in the middle and it doesn’t feel right. If you’re there too, then keep walking with me! It’ll be a vexed privilege and yes, a blessed trial but we’ll arrive! Thank God.

Look for Jane’s newest this April A Clearing in the Wild from WaterBrook Press.


At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my! Santo Dios! Exactly where I'm at. Needed this...needed this.
Thank you.

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Southern-fried Fiction said...

Vexation and joy. What a combination. Had I known when I started writing, would I have stopped? Don't knwo - how does one stop breathing and continue to live?

At 1:28 PM, Blogger Domino said...

Funny how your muddle in the middle is encouraging to me. I must not be the only one who has to work so hard to make it to the end.

In parenting, in writing, and in life God gives us challenges to stretch us. When He encourages my growth, it isn't comfortable. As I look back on how far I've come, I'm happy to see that I've grown, but I'm sobered by how far I've yet to go.

I've heard that God will take you THROUGH a storm - as long as you don't lie down in defeat in the middle of it. Keep walking with Him!

At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good thoughtful post, Jane. And as Domino says there are many life's metaphors to be applied here too.


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