Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Watch Out for Those Philistines! (And Other Writing Blocks)

by Linore Rose Burkard

Those Nasty Philistines!
When the Israelites reached the Promised Land after forty years of wandering, you can bet some hoped it would be uninhabited, just waiting to be plucked like ripe fruit on a vine. After all, this was to be their land by divine right. No earthly king or conqueror was giving it to them--it was God himself. Yet it was not to be. God had indeed promised the land to them, but His promise did not preclude their having to go in and fight for it.

As those who pick up the pen for God, writing is our "promised land." We've done our time in the wilderness, spent years learning the craft, perhaps even earning a degree. We're ready to move in to new territory!

Yet even as we recognize that our call to this land comes from God, we need also face the fact that settling into it faithfully--producing the written word--often entails a fight. God has led us to this land (of writing), encouraged us to embark on the journey to reach the end--a finished novel, say--and yet we have battle scars, or will have them, before we settle down, before that book (or that next book)  is published. Why? Because of the Philistines!

What do your Philistines look like?
Who (or What) Are Your Philistines?

We all have them: Giants, Philistines, in the land. My Philistines are
  • procrastination (fear in disguise);
  • mundane busyness;
  • household distractions. 
  • Perfectionism in non-essentials
When I have a problem to solve in a manuscript, suddenly I want to fix that three-course dinner.  And forget store-bought treats: I eat Paleo and never do I feel the urge to become the Mary Poppins of the kitchen more than when my book needs fixing.  I want to produce magic, fast. If my manuscript isn't working, I can still make a dinner to elicit instant praise. And it's so much easier.

But see, there's the Philistine. My family enjoys take-out pizza as much as the meal I slave over, so it's pride and perfectionism moving me. The solution? Slay that giant!   I can throw a salmon filet in the broiler for myself and order out for them--and still get in my word count if I really want to.The same goes for the other savages in my land.

David Slaying Goliath
Because if I can slay those big guys, I will absolutely be able to handle the legitimate endeavours (needful shopping, meal planning, cleaning and taxi servicing, for instance) that I must do for my family, while still managing time to write. But when I get my eyes on the Philistines, I get overwhelmed. Like the ten faithless spies, I want to run away and say "There's GIANTS in the land!" I want to deny that the Promised Land is really available, or promised to me, or capable of being conquered.

When that happens, I have to get on my knees. Sometimes faith is the only way to shut up the bad guys, especially when the bad guy is me.  

Wild Beasts  
Ah. The other fearful creatures that inhabit our Promised Land.  These are the unforeseen emergencies that pop up unexpectedly and want to bite us. Last week it was my refrigerator, because it forgot it was a refrigerator and started behaving like a freezer. It cost us more than $350 to have its memory fixed (by two technicians--one is no longer enough, I suppose.) But it bit a large chunk out of my day and my writing time. And this was AFTER it spent a few days growling at me while I put off calling said technicians. (Frozen eggs are no fun. Frozen milk is worse.) Obviously, the only way to deal with a wild beast if it comes at you--and wild beasts WILL come at you, sooner or later--is to slay the thing. I stayed up late to make up for lost time. The worst thing you can do is to let a wild beast derail you.

Milk and Honey  
Which brings me to the good stuff: Milk and honey! They were part and parcel of what God promised the Israelites, and when we conquer our Philistines and slay those wild beasts, we, too, can taste the sweetness of the land. It may be a byline in a big magazine or a book in your hands, but either way, it's sweet. And  when we hear from readers who've been touched deeply by our work, it's honey all over again. Best of all, we know we're using the talent that's been entrusted to us. We're taking back the land of promise.  

This doesn't mean that publication is the end-all and be-all of the writer's promised land. Sometimes, just getting the words right for yourself alone is satisfying, or for a few chosen loved ones. It all depends on what land God is directing you to. Just remember it may have natives who are comfortable, and wild life with fangs. Identify those enemies--your personal Philistines and nasty wild beasts--then draw out your sword.

When you put yourself in the right position, and show God you're deadly serious about the fight, an amazing thing happens: God fights for you!

We remember we are not alone in the sometimes hazardous territory of taking on the giants.

Psa 44:3  for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.
Images:    3.Wikipedia

Linore Rose Burkard  is best known for her Inspirational Regency Romance Series, which whisks readers to early 19th century England. Authenticity and heart-warming adventure are par for the course in her books. Fans of romance in the tradition of Austen and Heyer (such as Pride & Prejudice, Cotillion, and even My Fair Lady), enjoy meeting Linore's feisty heroines and dashing heroes.


Ane Mulligan said...

Great post, Linore! I've got a few of those skulking around my house. Thanks for naming them; it helps me to recognize them.

Linore Burkard said...

Thank you, Ane. And yet there are so many more, aren't there? We can never rest without a sword at our side (like Ezra, wasn't it?) when we are building God's work, it seems. May you slay all your Philistines this week!