Sunday, January 12, 2014


What do you call it when you have a great idea for a new book, but you just can't seem to get started? The debate rages on as to whether "writer's block" is a legitimate entity or just another excuse to avoid the self-discipline it takes to face the blank page...

...because the kids are fighting again, because you simply must mop the floor, or because the moon is full and you just can't concentrate.

For whatever reason, we all get stuck from time to time.

When it happens to me, I find that reading something by a favorite author often provides the jump start that gets me up and running again. So you can imagine my gratitude when Anne Lamott posted a short piece on Facebook this week.

She apologized for not posting for a while because she'd been sick. Then she went on to say:

"The real thing that's been going on, though, is that all the people I love who are seriously sick have gotten worse in the last month. They have the greatest hospitals in the world, ebullient attitudes, huge numbers of people praying for them. But one friend got the boot from a clinical trial because her tumor nearly doubled; and my darling teenage friend with cystic fibrosis has been in a downward spiral, from which she has recovered two times, but never quite enough to be of danger.

I hate, hate, this. I understand that one out of eight woman is getting breast cancer, and believe me, I have filed multiple briefs about this with the Complaints Department. But I draw the line at the suffering of children. It can't help but make you feel crazy with grief and impotence. The first thing I'm going to mention to God when we first meet face to face is, What the fricking frack were You thinking? So I draw the line, and cross my arms angrily at God, and then come back begging for the kids and their grown-ups to have a measure of peace, and what they call at my church "journey mercies." Please, I pray, let them have hope, humor, holy moments, a sense of safety. And 100% of the time, they do. They may go through awful patches, but they come through, in one way or another. They get their miracle, even if it isn't long life. I'm humbled by their courage and joy, which is pure grace, and the nurses in pediatric ICU, who will get the single best seats in heaven.

But I am still mad, and I get to hate it if I want."

This was just what I needed to read because I am writing about faith and misfortune, too...and she does it so well! You can read the whole piece here...and connect with her on Facebook while you're at it if you'd like.

Writer's block does not forebode a permanent state of mind. You must read in order to write. It's as simple as that.

The fact that someone else has written well is evidence that you can do it, too.

That said, today I interviewed a woman whose story I plan to use in my book. I reread a couple of pieces by my favorite authors on the subject of faith...Krista Tippett, Julia Cameron, and Thomas Merton. And then I wrote my opening paragraph.

Do you believe in writer's block? What do you do when you get stuck?
So, a book came in the mail today. It was from my brother...a book he wrote about "Awareness."
Now I can't stop reading! I should be supercharged by tomorrow morning. Thanks, Peter.

1 comment:

  1. I don't believe in writer's block but I know it is sometimes difficult to start. Reading does inspire me though sometimes I have to remind myself time reading isn't time I should feel guilty about.