I am in the middle of a blog-blast, reading a book a day (read: one-two days) and blogging about the books. I took a day off because I was using up my whole evening to attend a local reading, and I figured that had to count for something. Plus, I couldn’t reach my house without buying four books, so that’s writing work, right? Anyhoo…
I hate to add more work to my list, which is growing and growing with no real reprieve on the horizon, but I wanted to somehow sum up what happened to me at the reading last night. You can come to your own conclusions about how I got there.
And I know it’s going to be difficult. The lesson I learned seared deeply, but remains largely on the gut level. I’ll be able to explain only so much.
Now, I went to this reading because it featured a famous author, one whom I had heard–as a local–so much about over the years and–as a magic realism author–had been intending to read forever. I was aware that he would be only one of four readers, and that the others would be unpublished and that the whole point of the thing was his name drawing attention so that we could notice these budding authors. Cool. Fine.
It was a full room, which was probably both exciting and terrifying to the readers (except for Daniel Wallace), and I sat way in the back because the rain was getting me down and I was pouting that my husband had to work and my friend moved away like six years ago. The whole thing lasted an hour and a half and was mostly just the first three readers reading. But somewhere between my awkward circles of the bookstore waiting for someone, anybody, to please sit down so that I could too, and my hasty escape out into the dark with copies of The Book Thief and The Buried Giant under my arm, something had grown inside of me until it was glowing.
Now, excuse me if I get all authentic here, but I am a Christian, and I turned NPR off and had a good ol’ prayer on the way home. I was just so struck by this glowing thing inside of me, and I couldn’t believe I had never seen–or felt–this way about it before.
I know I’ve said I have a gift, when it comes to writing. I know that I often proclaim that I was built to be a writer. But I have realized now that all these years of thinking of writing as a career (which is okay), I was missing something. It has something to do with that cheesy, “I write because I have to,” except that it’s not that cheesy. I have a gift! Why on earth would I sideline the one thing in this world that I am best at, the strongest thing I have been given? It’s like being given the Sword in the Stone and propping it in the corner while going about years of housework and carpentry. Not that I can’t or shouldn’t do other things, and I would be the first to tell you that motherhood and even wife-ing is a calling that I am one-hundred-percent committed to. But then what?
Sure. I’m a good cook. A good painter. I enjoy hiking and camping and decorating my house. But when you’ve been given a surprising gift, it’s really best not to sideline it. Even if it doesn’t make you famous or make you money. It’s best to be thankful and to spend as much time using the gift as possible. Anything else would be a pitiful waste, a distraction, shadow puppets.
I told you I wouldn’t be able to explain it properly, at least not yet. But I had better hop to it. I only have like forty-sixty years left to me. Learning is slow, hard work and responding can be even harder.