Rabbiting and renewal

i used to be very into music, back when i was in high school and everyone was into music. On my own i listened to Rich Mullins, Audio Adrenaline, dc Talk, and Steve Taylor; with my friends i listened to MxPx or Joy Electric. In college i discovered Andrew Peterson, who (i am certain) is incapable of creating anything that is not sehnsuchty. Then, somewhere along the way, i simply stopped. i stopped listening to the radio. i stopped buying albums. i stopped keeping up with favourite artists. i had been soaking in music for years and had become saturated, and something in me began craving silence.

Little by little, that silence has become filled with noise. Streaming TV shows while i cook and checking Facebook nonstop on my phone have replaced both the saturation of ceaseless music and the blessed peace of silence.

Discovering the Rabbit Room Radio burst the dam.

Over December and January’s 4000 miles of travel, Jonathan and i read all three books in Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga (book four and final is due out in April). When we finally came home to roost, all i wanted to do was soak in the story—it is painfully, beautifully glorious—and listen to AP’s music. “Beautiful Things” by Gungor required several listens as well; it is the anthem of my heart, especially in regards to creating. One thing led to another, and i ended up at the Rabbit Room Radio.

i feel like i am waking up from a decade-long sleep to discover that the whole universe is singing, and i have missed so much.

But where on earth do i start when i have been asleep for so long?

i am still yawning and rubbing sleep from my wide eyes, and the Rabbit Room Radio has been playing nearly nonstop. Along with a wealth of AP songs i have never heard, i have been discovering new artists, one song at a time. Josh Garrels. Melanie Penn. Andy Gullahorn. Jason Gray. Eric Peters. All members of the Square Peg Alliance, their songs and styles inhabit a shared musical acreage, but each one awakens something different in me.

While streaming the radio, i have also been reading articles and interviews at the Rabbit Room, and here and there i switch music for podcasts on topics such as tragedy in literature. (i am deeply jealous of the conversations these people are having, but grateful to have the opportunity to listen and think, and, sometimes, discuss with my own community.) An article by Travis Prinzi hit home. And an interview with AP’s brother, Pete Peterson, yielded a little comment that has grown into something much larger as i continue processing it.

In the interview, Pete was asked about the phrase “feeding the gnome,” which he acknowledged gleaning from Stephen King’s celebrated book On Writing (which i have not read). The concept is that every writer has a “gnome” inside which feeds the author story ideas, but the gnome must be well-fed, or else it’ll wither away or become fat and lazy. i think mine is the latter, and it was convicting to read this. My gnome has, for a long while, mostly been fed junk food. Reading about this idea while learning to listen to music again after so long made me start thinking about what i consume and how that affects what i’m able to imagine and produce.

i need to read fewer Facebook posts and more literary fiction.

i need to pay less attention to ideas about crafting and spend more time actually crafting.

i need to fill up my ears with music rather than with noise.

i need to become comfortable with silence again rather than seeking always to fill it.

i need to spend more time in Scripture, engaging it fully and letting it renew me, rather than checking off a daily reading every other day.

i need to learn to think deep thoughts again, rather than rely on sound bites or shallow article-skimming (by which i mean shallow skimming of shallow articles).

i need to recover the lost art of soaking in and reflecting on and enjoying what i am reading, rather than jumping to post about something before i’ve even processed it.

i need to make an effort to express myself well, rather than rely on internet shorthand.

i am still working out what i expect this to look like, but one change i want to make is to spend very little time on Facebook and TV shows this month. That time may instead be spent reading or writing, if it comes in blocks (and i do expect to have more blocks of time, as watching TV while doing tasks always makes the tasks take longer). If it is time cleaning the kitchen or making the weekly menu or cooking dinner, and i would normally fill the silence behind these tasks with TV shows, i will instead fill the silence with music or prayer or nothing.

i think i am actually very close to catching up in my work on Rixi. There is a natural pause coming which is nearly upon me, and it will not take long to get there. i need to make space for that to happen. But even aside from the practical implications of spending less time ingesting shallow televised stories and memes and more time creating my own stories, i need to develop better habits as a subcreator and as a human.

Now to break the news to my Facebook constituency.

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Four stories and faltering

 

 

When i first came across this quote, my immediate thought was writing. Honestly, stories in general, including many i have not written, but writing in particular. i love storytelling, making people, watching them grow and unravel and grow again. The process, however, is often painful or simply frustrating.

The Twiry stories are not working out like i’d wanted them to. They aren’t bad at all—they just don’t feel like what i’d imagined. And this is the problem with writing in-world artifacts. The stories have a life of their own in Nirth already. i am not trying to write something new, but to find something already well-loved by people in another world.

The concept of sehnsuct is behind much of my love of story, as is the theme of redemption. Haunting beauty. All things made right. The world as it should be, but isn’t. Incarnation: the deep longings of every heart, given form.

i don’t know how to do that, but i desire it deeply. And it kills me. It kills me to read it, it kills me to attempt it, it kills me to achieve it, and—much more often—it kills me to close my hand on air, over and over again, thinking i’m close but finding i’m not.

Give me a few months and i might like Twiry better. i feel fairly desolate right now. But i will press on, because Nano demands it, and because i have made promises. Next time i write a picture book, however, remind me to write it with pictures.

The second thing i’ll be writing this month is part of a longer saga of heartache-in-writing: Rixi, in a critical and wrenching moment that won’t end. Oh, Rixi, why do we hurt each other?

For now, though, i am only 5830 words and four stories behind schedule. And tonight is a write-in. And i will make it, somehow. If writing kills me (and let’s be honest; it won’t), it’ll be because i let it, not because i can’t get up again.