In Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott writes, “… what it means for us, for writers, is that we need to align ourselves with the river of the story, the river of the unconscious, of memory and sensibility, of our characters’ lives, which can then pour through us, the straw” (121).
First, Lamott says that the origin of the story is within ourselves, and in order to find it we have to sit back and get the voices out of our head and listen to our subconscious, to the characters themselves, and find out what they are saying. She recognizes the problems that all writers (and probably most creative artists) have with the diligence needed to create, and the problems artists have of self-esteem and confidence and the voices that tell us we can’t do anything right.
It’s all true. BUT, she gives the wrong answer.
Her answer is to “try to calm down, get quiet, breathe, and listen. Squint at the screen in your head…” (113). Look inward, listen to the characters, and go with whatever they say, even in if it doesn’t make sense. Let the characters speak instead of you directing them like puppets.
The problem I have is this: we can’t look to ourselves and rely on OUR strength. We have to look to God. God is our foundation, not me quieting my inner voices. She talks about getting jealous about other writers who are successful and of coping with rejected manuscripts, but all the answers are ones that involve me and me only. But I will fail. GOD must be my rock. When I feel like I can’t produce and others are doing better and liked better and are successful with lots of money, I don’t run to my happy place and sit quietly until I turn down the voices. I run to God and find my worth in him. I don’t (or can’t) write to find my worth; it’s only found in him, and in the truth that he loves me and I love him, which means I am successful. Thus, I write, not the other way around.
It’s about having the right rock to stand on. You get depressed and jealous and lack inspiration, and all of the weight rests on YOU to fix it.
But I turn to God. And he’s a much more solid rock than I am.
To give Lamott credit, what she says about diligence and perseverance is right on. I need to be faithful to stay at the plow and do the work and sow into what I want to create. BUT my strength to do so is not found in me.
Thank the Lord for that : )