I’m currently reading a book given to me by a friend called Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamott. It’s about writing, and mostly about persistence and diligence. The process of writing a story, from short to novel, is arduous (oh yeah, big word), and it’s easy to be enthusiastic about a great idea but then sit down and feel all of that excitement drain away into the blank empty of the page. I’ve suffered from this for years with screenplays; I have great ideas (I think, at least), but when I sit down to write them, I type a few words and then give up.
But I think the main theme of Lamott’s book is to persevere. Take the writing process little by little, rather than the whole steak all at once. That’s where the title Bird By Bird comes from. Lamott’s brother had to write a school paper once about birds, but waited till the night before to write. Their father found him sitting at the table surrounded by piles of books and staring aimlessly at all the information. “Just take it bird by bird, son,” the dad said. Bird by bird. Little by little. The farmer doesn’t plow all of his acres of fields all at once. He takes it one furrow, one line at a time. “It is a matter of persistence and faith and hard work”, says Lamott.
It brings me to a curious position. She said faith. All this talk about persistence brings up a longing in my heart to walk faithfully with God. In this simple act of writing, my lack of diligence and faithfulness is revealed in stark clarity. A prayer that stays with me is asking for the fruits of the Holy Spirit, that faithfulness and self-control would grow in me.
It plays on two levels. One is being faithful to the ideas and stories Daddy has planted in me, and the other is in the broader scope of life to walk faithful with God himself in relationship. “Grow in me the fruits of faithfulness and self-control, Lord!” It’s not a brilliant revelation, but I’ve realized that it’s easier to consume than it is to create. But as Lamott says, it’s a matter of persistence and hard work, of going back and back again, day after day, just being faithful in the simple, smallest ways that I can. Just write a paragraph a day. Just half a page of screenplay. Like the widow who sold oil so that her son wouldn’t be taken away. As long as she had pots to fill, the oil kept coming.
I want to be one who faithfully fills the pots God brings to me.