Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mid-Write Crisis

It hit me when I was ironing. Halfway through my husband’s shirt I realized my blog due date was less than three days away, and I had nothing to say, especially not to thoughtful wordsmiths.

I haven’t thought much about writing since my story nearly died. Just after New Year’s Day I filled a brown box with black-clipped chapters, fat note files, rubber banded notecards, stacks of books and a handful of marked-up maps. I sealed it with strapping tape and wrote OUT OF BOUNDS in bold black. The pen’s permanent scent hung in the air for a good half hour that Saturday morning.

So the story has endured the attic’s dark cold and heat for more than five months. Not that the story is off limits. Ironically, the story’s title is Out of Bounds. It may return to the light of day, but not today. It’s not ready. Neither am I.

You may be a recovering writer, too. When the tale that gripped you is taken, what then? Or when you yourself pack it away, maybe even throw it away, where to turn? What to say when the words have been knocked out of you?

I don’t have the answer, but I’ve begun again. In One Year to a Writing Life Susan Tiberghien suggests beginning the writing life with daily journaling. (Journal contains jour, French for “day.” How, through two years of French and two degrees in English, have I missed that gem?) Julia Cameron prescribes morning pages, three flowing, uncensored pages at the day’s start to record what is seen, heard, smelled, felt. Blank journals have proved the doorway into an all-new world waiting exploration, discovery and most importantly, liberation.

So today I’m leafing through the last six months. They are laced with exuberance over a twenty-fifth anniversary, frustration with a faraway son, fanning a flickering story idea, yearning for Jesus, and the recurring cry, “LORD, have mercy.”

And He has. He has not only bound up the wound, but borne it, too; not only offered hope but given new life. Disappointment opens doors we dread but dare not pass.


  1. This is a lovely post. I hope the journaling opens the door to a new story.

  2. I bummed out too, and withdrew from anything/anyone connected to the writing world for a year. Now I'm crawling back into the sunshine, but pretty much sticking to the shade for awhile. How good that God cares for us on a personal level and holds us by His hand even when we want to slink away!

  3. Renata,

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR ENCOURAGING BLOG. (Did I get that across loud and clear enough?)

    I seem to get to the half way point on my second novel and then go a while without writing (and I'm in that while). Meaning my first novel is ready to go? No, that's being edited...or, more accurately, waiting to be edited (which I may get to sometime before the Cubs win a World Series and we have a triple crown winner). So what am I doing? Thinking about starting another novel!

    Actually, I'd appreciate your prayers. I'm at the point of questioning whether I'm supposed to be writing. As well as having a wife who's a journalist/Bible study writer -- I try to encourage her writing, and feel hers can accomplish more than mine. May I'm having a combination of a Mid-write/Mid-life crisis. (I doubt I'll have mid-wife crisis, but I've had a mid-riff crisis for years. Well, at least I've accomplished my goal of making my adolescence lasting until my mid-life crisis.)

    Have a blessed day.


  4. It happened to me years ago. A scathing critique that had nothing to do with the storyline cause me to stop writing for an entire year. The story didn't die, it's waiting it's time, but what I came out of that period with was the reason why I was writing. Someone will always disapprove. If I'm writing for approval then that's a whole lot different than writing to please my Lord. Now I write, because I'm a writer. I write because that's what I God has purposed me to do. What he does with it I'm leaving in His hands. All I have to do is obey this one day, each and everyday. Take heart! Good bread has not only a time to rise (wait)but a time to bake (trials/success). God will prove Himself faithful. Be blessed.

    1. Mary,

      Great response. Hope you don't mind, but I used your comment to try to encourage a brother.

      Have a blessed day.


  5. Excellent post. Great idea on the journaling. It's how I teach elementary students through high school to write so that they don't freeze when confronted with a blank page. They have the choice whether to use a prompt or write what they want.

    Write on! Never quit. Don't let the devil lie to you because someone needs to read what you have to say.

  6. Many thanks for giving courage to my heart courage and balm to my soul.

  7. Renata,
    Like the others, I just love this post. Beautiful writing and words that ring truth with most, if not all, of those of us who dare to call ourselves writers. My turn on the blog is Saturday and I'm scanning my documents hoping I've made some notes for a post because I have no idea what to write about. God is faithful, though. He always gives me something, just one more idea, to keep going. I pray He continues to do that for you, too.