Risk it All

Risk it all. Hold nothing back.Risk it all. That’s when amazing, glorious things happen. — from the October Write Right eLetter

The writing life — and the life of faith — is not a safe life. To play it safe, means to risk little and to accomplish even less. To grow, to become the person God has created me to be, requires risking it all. No cards are held back for safekeeping. Everything is put on the table. Everything is entrusted to the One who dealt the cards in the first place.

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How to be a Better Writer: Be Diligent

Diligent GirlBe diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. — 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB)

To be diligent is to “have or show care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties.” Its synonyms help paint the picture: industrious, hard-working, assiduous, conscientious, particular, punctilious, meticulous, painstaking, rigorous, careful, thorough, sedulous, earnest.

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I Won’t Quit

Pencil and PaperIn spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing. — Vincent Van Gogh

A few days ago, I contemplated quitting the Write Right blog for a while. Take a sabbatical. Leave it to its own devices.

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What’s Your Motivation?

Motivation…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. – Philippians 2:13 (NASB)

Paul Arden says creative people create because they have a need to rebel against something. I don’t agree. That may be the motivation of some artists—I apply the term to anyone involved in creative work—but I don’t believe it’s the motivation of the Christian artist.

At least, it shouldn’t be. The Christian life is one of constant surrender and reaching toward something, i.e., God. To create as a Christian is to submit my talent and skills to God and to seek to glorify Him with my life and work. If I rebel, it is a rebellion against human constraints and limitations as the Spirit works in and through me.

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I find this thought in my REAP journal, dated 09/21/2014:

Art, like faith, is a reaching toward. It’s the unsatisfied thirst and certain hope that drives us onward in our journeys (as artists and believers).

Another entry, same date:

Passivity has no role in the life of the artist and of the Christian. You’re either in, or you’re out, and if you’re “in,” you’re “in it to win it.” You run hard, and you run toward the prize. Both art and faith require discipline and exercise. 1 Timothy urges daily exercise. “No spiritual flabbiness!” (1 Timothy 4:6, MSG)

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From Luci Shaw’s Breath for the Bones:

My responsibility as an artist is to stir up this gift, to exercise it, and to trust its direction and effectiveness to the One who gave it to me and into whose hand I have given my life.

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Even Paul Celan, who wasn’t a Christian, expressed the idea that art moves toward an “other.” The artist focuses upon that thing. She hopes to meet it. Her work, her art, turns into worship as she pursues it.

Celan says:

Art makes for distance from the I. Art requires that we travel a certain space in a certain direction, on a certain road.

To be a Christian artist is to occupy myself with pursuing God through art, to so occupy my eyes, mind, heart, and body with the pursuit that I forget myself. I distance myself from the I, and, in the distancing, I encounter God—if only briefly. I don’t always encounter Him in those moments of forgetting, but I know I will. I wait for it expectantly.

As Anne Lamott says:

I heard a preacher say recently that hope is a revolutionary patience; let me add that so is being a writer. Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.

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J.S. Bach understood motivation. His came from Christ. He sought to remember that and to call people toward it by signing his works “soli Deo gloria”: glory to God alone.

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The story of the Christian artist is one of an unrelenting, eternal pursuit, an echo of God’s unrelenting pursuit for His beloved children. The Christian artist’s motivation is to reveal this God and His great love even as she stretches and stretches toward Him. She keeps running, trying to meet Him, anticipating she will because she lives in the realm of expectancy, the place of already and not yet.

Image: Loren Kerns

Write Right: Good versus Well

Write Right Talks about Writing RightDifferentiating between good and well is all well and good (Yes, I just did that.), but it can be a bit—shall I say nitpicky?—in informal settings. In formal ones, it’s another matter.

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Words that Wound

Words that WoundBut no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. — James 3:8 (NASB)

As a writer, I make my living with words. I know how they can be used. They can comfort and uplift. They can praise and glorify God. They also can be knives against a whetstone.

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Worship is a Posture

Morning PrayerI pray to God—my life a prayer—
And wait for what He’ll say and do.
Psalm 130:5 (MSG)Continue Reading

How to be a Better Writer: Be Flexible

Flexibility ExerciseWhile I believe in protecting one’s ideal writing and creative time, I’m an equally strong proponent of working outside those times. Challenging oneself is necessary. It teaches a person to work regardless of the external situation.

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Cooking Lobsters (or, Another Study in Perfectionism)

Maine LobsterThe problem with perfectionists, albeit not the only one, is that they’re like lobsters about to be cooked. They’re not only the lobsters placed into the pot, but they’re also the chefs tossing them in and closing the lid behind them.Continue Reading

I Will Give Thanks

Glory FallsMy heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!
Psalm 57:7 (NASB)

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