On and on and on

Andrew Peterson and his wonderful little family sang this song in an online concert last night, and partway through the song something hit me that has never occurred to me before, despite my knowledge that the new earth that we’ll live in forever isn’t just limbo but life, not some ethereal harp-playing noplace, but a real, REAL, fully-redeemed physical place.

Jonathan and i were talking earlier yesterday about getting older and i said, “i’m so behind.” He nodded and said he feels that way himself sometimes. We’re in our mid-thirties, and he’s in school, and i’m looking to start school, and we’re only just sort of getting an idea of what we’re for, and meanwhile guys like AP are manhandling multiple careers with aplomb, having known who they were from the time they were 20 or younger.

But halfway through this song, these lines (which they’d already sung several times) spoke to me:

And it hurts so bad
but it’s so good to be young
And i don’t want to go back
i just want to go on and on and on
So don’t lose heart
Though your body’s wasting away
Your soul is not
It’s being remade
So don’t lose heart
Don’t lose heart
Your body will rise and never decay
Day by day by day

And it hit me: i WILL go on and on and on.

i think what we do in this life matters immensely, but:

All the stories i don’t get around to telling while in this old body will still be written. The difference is only in who gets a chance to read them (and what measure of grace and what manner of mystery inform my storytelling).

And that does matter—immensely—but there is still hope that who i am will remain; what He’s calling me to do does not end in my death; and i will have eternity to tell His stories. On and on and on.

That gives me a very different motivation to get on with it, and freedom to face the next two thirds of my life with eagerness to write, and without anxiety over whether i’ve done enough.

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Writer’s retreat

Next week, i’ll keep a regular 9-5 writing schedule, holed up in a cafe 1200 miles from here. About two years ago, we made this same trek—Jonathan for work, and me along for the ride—and i spent the entire week at the same table in a particular coffee shop, writing and writing and writing. At the time, i felt like every word was taking me another step away from Rixi’s heart, and when we got home i called the entire week a waste—a miserable, expensive waste; i could have sat in our hotel room and read book after book or even watched TV instead of paying rent at a coffee shop. After some emotional and temporal distance, and a few hard editorial choices, i have come to love that week’s work. Rixi and i have been through a lot together, and what at first felt like betrayal has turned into a much-needed lull between storms. She needed that time, and i needed it, but we were both so caught up in heartbreak that we couldn’t see it then.

Now Jonathan’s job is sending us forth again, but this time, i am not just along for the ride. i am looking forward to spending another week in that blessed cafe which, even in the midst of the angst, felt like a sanctuary. Since that time two years ago, Rixi and i have taken many steps on this journey—some tiny, some lurching, some leaping, some backward, some sideways, and not a few that traced circles—and now we will sit in that cafe again and write her life, and do so together.

My list of writing tasks for this trip:

  • Comprehensive structuring of the “little e” plotline
  • At least two narrative snippets from Liedend’s POV
  • Re-writes on two other narrative snippets
  • Letters from home

Time permitting, i also have a few non-Rixi writing projects in mind:

  • Essays: One on Peet the Sock Man; one on a pre-Christian treatment of sin and redemption; two on creativity
  • Library blog posts: National Library Week, the new Christ Center Reads program, our next quarterly theme (faith and arts)

This trip can’t come soon enough! i can already feel the sunlight coming through the cafe’s huge windows, dust motes dancing through the wide open space like laughter in motion.

Yes.

Early January musings

Nothing much has happened in my head or on paper, story-wise, in the last few weeks. i spent a lot of time with family, read out loud to my husband, and bought several books on writing. i have even read bits of a few of those books. But nothing much has happened.

That’s to be expected during December and early January. Christmas and New Year’s and traveling and, for that matter, coming down from Nano, all mean i don’t get much done during the holiday season. That changes on Monday.

Just saying that is a little scary.

Like many creatives, i tend to binge when my muse shows up and look at cats on the internet when she doesn’t. But writing, i realize, is a craft. It’s something that takes time and effort to develop, and time and effort mean intentionality and planning. So i am planning to write, starting Monday.

One day while we were out of town, i spent a few minutes at my in-laws’ kitchen table thinking of strategies. i thought, if i could set a word count goal, it would help me tremendously. Nothing like Nano—maybe a third of that pace. If i can plan for around 4000 words per week, that means i’ll get not quite 50K in before April, when Camp Nano starts. It means i’ll be making progress—tangible progress, not just thinking about thinking. The thinking side of writing is very important—but the actual writing needs to happen, and i don’t always get there. And setting a weekly rather than a daily goal allows me to be a bit more flexible.

So now, i have a weekly writing journal where i can jot down goals, ideas, and actual progress. i’ll seek out writing challenges, work on year 5 of Rixi’s letters, and start feeling good about sitting down and writing.

Today, i spent about twenty minutes  working on a poem in between floor-mopping and bathroom-cleaning. Alas, i can’t count; the meter ended up a little wonky. But i put words on paper, and that felt good. (The poem is a sehnsuchty one for me; i knew it would take a few tries and it doesn’t bother me at all that i was right.)

So, we’ll see what Monday brings. For now, time to dance.