In an Interview by Joy Biles, poet Carrie Fountain said:
“Be wary of becoming a poet. Be wary of becoming anything. I mean: you want to become a surgeon. Or, I should say, you want your surgeon to have become a surgeon! But don’t become a poet. You’ll never get there. Just get started. Each morning, make a little progress. Send out a little prayer. Take note of something. Try to be facing in the direction of the surprise.”
I think there’s a lot of wisdom in her words, wisdom that pertains not only to poets but to writers of all kinds. I think perhaps we try too hard to become writers. We agonize over it, set our schedules rigidly, watch our reviews on Amazon, try to do a hundred and one things using social media and all the other marketing ploys. And all the while the art suffers because of the ‘have to.’
Oh I hear you. Yes, it is necessary to market our work if we want people to discover it. Yes, it is necessary to learn the skills of our craft. But no, we don’t have to work so very hard at it that the joy evaporates and our ears become deaf to the voice that longs to speak to us through our own words.
I love that simple sentence, “Take note of something.” That’s what it’s about. Take note. Watch for it. Record it. Let it live inside you as you express it. Let it change you. Then give it to others so they too may live it through you.
I often wonder what it would have been like to be a scribe during the ancient times. What would it have been like to sit in the courts of Xerxes or King Saul and King David? Did they realize the importance of the history they were recording? They were trained to be accurate, to record the very words of their king as though their lives depended on it. Often it did. But did they have moments of awe as they wrote? Perhaps not. Perhaps it was just a job, a very ordinary thing to sit at the feet of the king and record his words and the everyday goings-on in his court. Perhaps yes. Perhaps a particular ray of light as it hit the king’s crown caught the scribe’s eye, or the compassion in his master’s eye as he listened to the stories of his subjects. Perhaps his heart was moved as he wrote.
We too are scribes, recording our times, recording and revealing the glory of our King. It is our job to lean into it, to recognize its importance, to be moved by it, for the very quality of our lives may depend on it.
“I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw” (Proverbs 24:32).
Yes, “take note of something, try to be facing in the direction of the surprise.” And don’t forget to “say a little prayer.”
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