Writing Advice of the Garden Variety
Last month I had a mighty plan for my blog, had an important editorial calendar and everything. Then I took a needed catch-up break. We emptied storage units and worked on our garden. I took up a new little sewing hobby, and Seth and I have dreamed up elaborate schemes to begin hobby farming. All my want-lists have chickens on them. We started eating organic foods, and I’ve turned rather hippy-ish altogether.
We drove to Alabama and took up eating from my daddy’s beautiful garden and then also from my Mama’s banana pudding, which was not organic but incredibly good on the mouth. Mama and Daddy sent us home with about 25 pounds of squash, 50 pounds of potatoes, a serger, a sewing machine, and a huge canning pressure cooker. They sent me home a few pounds heavier, too. They know a little something about giving and sustainability. I think I’m aloud to say that I’m from good people. My sister gave us 3 big boxes of little boy clothes. We expected none of it, and to top it all off, Jesus performed a fish-and-loaves miracle by helping me figure out how to Tetris all that stuff into the van.
We made it home to the rock house last night and exploded with our suitcases. I’ll make bread this morning and read to the boys. No matter how fancy I try to be, I only really know how to flourish in the simple, to put my voice in this space in the quiet moments God gives me. My editorial calendar now just says “write what you can when you can.”
I have writing advice for you and me both. The pressure ought to be only in the cooker.
Let’s just write, and then if something earth shattering comes out of it, let it sit a while if it must. Let it fuse together. Let it kill off the unclean. Let it do what it does. Sometimes that means writing it and letting it sit so the tone can work itself out. Sometimes with a blog you hit publish and your words will do what they do. Either way, the pressure can’t be while the words are pouring. We can’t work under such conditions. The ingredients of a work come in pure, like a dash of salt or a cup of honey. Let the words not come in already co-mingled with ego, who we wish we were. We’ll never find our voice when we’re so self-aware that we’re thinking about what we’re thinking.
Like for making breakfast, you go into the kitchen and see what you’ve got that day to cook. You take the toast, and you spread it with butter. The boys will come to the table and eat it because that’s what’s there. Now if I stopped to think about what butter best represents me and what toast makes the plate look the best, we’d just never eat. I wouldn’t get anything made.
Right now, this is the only way I know how to enter back into the echoing quiet without putting the pressure on myself to be something other than I am. Right now, we’re simple as honey, as squash piled in a feed sack, and as tomatoes in the window seal. Right now, we may have garden-variety writing, but keeping up with our discipline – with a healthy base – is how we mature, how we learn to add the spices or to tone it down.
Do you have writing advice to share? Tell me how it is that you keep going? How have you found your voice?