Thursday, March 15, 2007

PH: The Satisfied Writer

The taking up of the cross of Christ is no great action done once for all; it consists in the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us.” John Henry Newman

Today I was salivating over a job that would take me away from home for several weeks, a writer’s residency in another state. The writer-in-residence would teach one class a week and then spend the rest of her time doing nothing but writing. It sounds heavenly except for the fact that during those weeks away from home my duties as a wife, mom, and ministry leader would fall into neglect. But the thought of it lured my thoughts into a tranquil reverie.

Seriously, do you ever daydream about a life where all you have to do is write? No taking care of children or spouses or church duties. No answering emails or telephone calls. No strain or stress of the responsibilities to hold body and soul together. Morning and night, writing and more writing.

In the middle of my daydream, reality broke through. I imagined that hour in the afternoon where my youngest son comes lugging his book bag up the stairs, grinning, telling me about his day, the prom and the girl he’s invited to escort there, or the good grade he made on a test. And then I imagined missing that or missing my oldest running in between college classes and his job to give me a kiss. I get a kiss in the morning and one at night. He never forgets me. Then there’s that spoon thing I’d miss every evening when my husband crawls into bed next to me and we talk about all that happened that day and what the Lord did and how hard it was or how amazed we were. Or excited. Or let down, but still, even that is living. Or what would I miss if I couldn’t attend my small group? Would I continue to grow and stay challenged to mature in my faith? And what of the myriad of people I meet in my life because the Lord has seen fit to place me right here in this tiny apex of the universe that is occupied only by me and God in me? How would my life be enriched without those generous souls?

Then I wondered what in the world I’d write about if all I ever did was write, write, write. Would there be another story to tell and would it be worth telling? In Jeremiah, God says, “I will satiate the soul of the priest with abundance, And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD.” There are times when carrying the load of wordsmith feels too heavy and I want to give it a new shape, dissatisfied with the old shape. I strain under it and fantasize about relief. I forget what goodness is poured into my life through, as John Newman once said, “the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us.” I have to remind myself that the load I carry is not one of words but of souls. My hope is that I’m able one day to say to God that the things I carried in life were, okay, heavy; but only with humans.

Patricia Hickman writes wild and warm stories of faith like Earthly Vows and Whisper Town. or


At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good comments and reminders, Patricia. But, I do long for that time when I can just be away, alone, just me and my work. And that's no reflection on my family, my ministry responsibilities, or anything else.

That's important time I need occasionally to recharge, re-create, and relax. Yes, writing relaxes me.

I don't feel bad because I need this time, I feel encouraged because it confirms the call of God on my heart. And the key to embracing your time away is the same old thing we always have to have when we work fulltime, write fulltime, and have a family and ministry fulltime. Balance.

Now, where was that job?


At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really excellent post, Patty.

If we miss life--especially the lives of our loved ones--we miss everything.


At 7:13 PM, Blogger Ann Tatlock said...

Great message, Patty. I so often feel frustrated by all those things we have to do to "keep body and soul together"--as they simply interfere with writing! But relationships are something we can't shortchange. You inspired me to get away from computer and spend some extra time with my daughter today. Thank you for that!

At 8:44 PM, Blogger batgirl said...

Ah yes. My fantasy is set in a mountain cabin up north- perhaps in Maine (like the writer in the movie Misery, only without the car accident and phsycho Kathy Bates). No phone, no t.v. I'd go for a good long hike each morning, come back and brew coffee, then type the day away.
Reality: I could slip away for a weekend maybe, but God made me a wife/mom/home school teacher/church worker...
I'm only 35 though. I think I might just have my mountain time when everyone goes to college. I'll enjoy as many moments with my little guys as I can now, just running off to occasional conferences. Great post

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Patricia Hickman said...

Such nice comments. I do take sabbaticals, (Secrets From the Treadmill--Discover God's Rest in the Busyness of Life, Thomas Nelson) but the opportunity I was talking about would take me away from home for nearly an entire semester. Tempting, yes, to have nothing but time to write and a small teaching duty. But not for that long! Sorry I'm just now seeing this. I forgot I had written it and I'm underground to finish my WIP. Probably no one will see this, but just thought I had to clarify. hugs. PH


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