Lisa Samson, three-time Christy award-winner and author of 34 books including Quaker Summer, is known for excellence in writing as well as her artistic bent, but more than anything, perhaps, the name Samson brings to mind authentic stories that make you think. Once asked why she writes, she said, "So people will know they're not alone." Dealing with difficult issues has also given Samson a reputation for courage in her writing. Lisa, a visual artist as well, has three children and lives with her youngest daughter, her dog, Zeus, and too many cats, in Lexington, Kentucky.
One of the reasons I’m not on the writer’s conference circuit any longer is because I became tired of hearing myself talk, blabbing the same old tired things, giving the same old advice over and over again. That’s not the way I’m wired. After a while, I figured out there were better teachers than I at these gatherings, saying a lot of the same things I was, granted, but doing it better than I ever could.
So I went back to just writing, and living, and trying to figure out what it means to be faithful to my giftings. That’s not an easy process, is it? Because unfaithfulness tends to snake its tendrils into every area of your life.
When Ane asked me to write a column, I jumped on it, and for the life of me, I can’t tell you why. I hate being boxed in, committed to anything but a deadline or what the day presents, because let’s face it, that’s more than enough for one person to handle. Maybe it was time to share again, not because I have sage wisdom that has collected after more than two decades of trying to figure out this writing thing, but simply because I’m trying to be faithful.
So in the event that I pull out of my driveway today, turn onto Lafayette Parkway only to be plastered into the next life by a Best Buy truck thereby making this the only column I write, I’m going to offer you the best piece of writing advice I’ve got.
Shoot the wad
Seriously. Don’t save your best storyline for later. Use it now. And what’s more, use the most intriguing characters you’ve ever come up with to people that tale. Keep a list of striking metaphors? Try and employ every single one of them in your current work in progress. Don’t skimp. Don’t save. Become a wanton spender of your creativity.
Walk down the aisle of your brain and throw the most expensive, most dearly won life-lessons right into your cart and don’t look back. Pull down all the paintings in the halls of your imagination and throw them onto the fires of your passion and let them burn, right onto the pages of your books and poems and stories and articles. Let nothing remain. Empty all the tanks. Sweep clean the vaults. Roll up the rugs and give away all the furniture.
I’ll let you in on a little secret.
If you live and love and take chances, if you open your eyes to the world not as you think it should be, but as it is, every single bit of it will soon be replaced.
Don’t save anything for later. Use it now.
If you have an idea you don’t think you’re talented enough at this point to develop, use it anyway. Your brain thought it up right now, your brain will figure out how to use it. Trust yourself. Use yourself. Take your life, roll it around in your mouth, chew it up, swallow it, and fuel your work with abandon. Become a self-cannibalizing glutton and don’t apologize for it.
Each work you set out to do deserves no less than this. Be ruthless in the scraping of your soul; turn your heart inside out and dump out every last item inside. Use every last piece you can find and then watch with wonder as life hands you more.
Sara's an artist with a supportive husband and a house that folks on her block admire outright. But she's restless and bored with life.
Then her legendary Aunt Bel shows up, wearing a smile after years without a word.
Twenty years ago, fresh out of college, Bel left for a summer missions trip and never returned. Now she's on Sara's doorstep, looking for a place to crash. Sara can't say no to family, even if she hasn't seen Bel since she was a nine-year-old girl. But saying yes to Bel turns Sara's whole precariously-balanced life upside down.