Prayer

Sometimes, when your head hurts and your bills pile up and your muse is on holiday (again) and the other members of your household are making enough racket to wake the deaf and the world is crashing down upon you … sometimes, the only thing to do is pray. 

We all understand the concept of “prayer;” when we pray, we communicate with God. When we pray formulaic prayers, such as the Our Father, we speak to God; when we pray “freestyle,”* we [try to] speak with God. A lot of “freestyle” prayer requires humble listening. We have to stop our “please, God, may I have … ?” and say instead, “I’m listening.”

As writers, however, how do we pray? Writers have difficulty listening. They train themselves to focus on words, and so they hear very well, but it is difficult for them (us) to stop and truly listen. They listen to people’s words, and they use those words to make sense of the world around them. They listen to the voices in their heads to make sense of other people’s words. God doesn’t speak in words, however — or at least, not to the average writer. God speaks in conscience and virtue and soul; He doesn’t communicate in tangible or even definable methods. Perhaps this means that sometimes a writer must stop being a writer and be only a pray-er. To be prayer itself? To offer oneself as prayer? Is this possible? Is this thinkable? Am I still acting as a writer and over-thinking something again?

Sigh.

Sometimes, the only thing to do is pray.

And sometimes, the only thing to do is pray and listen to Gregorian chant and promise yourself another episode of “Sherlock” if you get a blog post written. 

 

* Is there a theological term for this? Also, a nod to Mere Inkling for subconscious non-divine inspiration for this post 🙂 

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Patience

We live in a world of instant gratification. With writing, as with many other wonderful exciting confusing frustrating frabjous things, we cannot expect to produce War and Peace overnight, or even within a year, or perhaps a decade. We cannot expect to produce it as our first attempt at a novel, or our last. We cannot expect to produce it ever, in fact. Tolstoy rather beat us to the quick.

Dash it all, I can hardly produce a readable blog post, without consuming an excessive amount of cheese. And chocolate. And cheese.

As an unwilling though undeniable product of the late twentieth century, I expect results. Fast. Now. Yesterday! I expect quantity rather than quality, efficiency rather than eloquence. I wrote 50K words in 30 days; doesn’t that count as a “book”? (What is a “book”?) Why can’t I put it on the market now and make it a best-seller? Isn’t that effort enough? What do you mean, editing? But I want it NOW.

Basil just sits in his corner and guffaws. Sigh.

Point being, patience. Building a vocabulary takes patience. Building a mental library takes patience. Building a repertoire of references takes patience. The pleasure of forming an intricate sentence is consumed by the focus and attention necessary for its content. Or something.

Rudyard Kipling encourages us to “Wait and not be tired by waiting.”

T. S. Eliot takes it a step further:

“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

Thank you, Blue, for the sermon. May I go back to bed now?

~

For the record, one of the recommended tags for this post is “Shopping.” I take that as a sign. Retail therapy, anyone?