Step Five- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Let’s take a look at our wrongs as writers. Not the wrongs we may or may not have done to others, but the wrongs we have done to ourselves. Writing is a funny gift. It requires long hours of being alone. Often we need a quiet space to think and work. I have a friend who can write on her mini laptop while waiting for the bus. She is prolific and very much the exception. Most writers, including myself, need to be alone. We need quiet and concentration to listen to God’s whispers as He speaks to our hearts. It is hard to listen to what God is trying to teach us. First, we need to get past the noise of the world. Second, we need to get past the noise and demands of our loved ones. And third, we need to get past the noise and distractions of our own minds.
The world we live in is an attractive but ruckus place. Most of us find it hard to find a place in nature where we can commune with the natural world. The beaches are full of people with portable music, the stores and even the elevators are full of canned music. Years ago, I used to take a book with me when I went to the doctor’s office. Now a television is blasting with nonsense whenever I try to read. It is almost impossible to be alone to think, pray or ponder. A spiritual writer has to search for a space to be alone in silence. However, without that special place of quiet, we can easily lose our way. Whether it is a room in your home, a log in a forest or (one of my favorites) a Eucharistic Adoration chapel, we need to find a place for our imagination and inspiration to grow.
The most difficult barrier to our silent reflection can be the very ones we love. How difficult it is to get away from our spouse or children without being overwhelmed by guilt. After all, isn’t it God’s Will that we be attentive to our husband or wife? Don’t we want to imitate Mary and be the perfect mother? In the list of our priorities, our family comes before our writing. However, our relationship with God comes before our relationship with anyone else. It is a balancing act. Timing is what is important here. Do you need to get up early to write—before anyone else gets up? Do you need to stay up late? Are you willing to make that sacrifice? Or do you just need to turn off the T.V. after the kids go to school? Do you need to turn down an afternoon with your friends, or just need to write before you check your emails or Facebook? I know a writer who goes to the library each day after she drops her children off at school. It is quiet and she sits at the library table for two hours each day before she goes home to the rest of her life. Our fear of facing that blank page or that new chapter can have us creating excuses and blaming everyone else for our lack of work. If you are honest with yourself, you can always find a time alone, a separate space to do your work.
The logistics can be worked out if you are a serious writer. However, once you find your place and time, the biggest distraction can be yourself. When you are alone in your quiet place do you start planning dinner or think of all the real work you are ignoring? This often happens in prayer. How do you deal with it? I go into Christian meditation. Close your eyes, and while taking deep slow breathes, think of you favorite place on earth. Mine is the pine forest behind my house. Bring yourself mentally there. Then have Jesus come and sit with you. Don’t talk—let Him talk. Let Him lead you into the writing, into the story, into His Will for you. It never fails. You can be physically sitting in your house, in front of your laptop, and yet you have gone to your special place with your Savior. When you open your eyes, things become clear as you become inspired.
How does this relate to step five? You have been wronging yourself. And what is worse is the fact that you have been dishonest with yourself. Like the story of the talents in the Bible, we are all guilty of being afraid and burying our talent. We find excuses and distractions to keep us from doing the work we were sent here to do. We can always find the place, time and inspiration to write. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Let’s live in truth.
Karen Kelly Boyce is a mother of two and grandmother of two who lives on a farm in N.J. with her retired husband. She and her husband love to camp and take ‘road trips’ around the country. She has published four novels and three children’s books. Her website is www.karenkellyboyce.com