12 Jun 2014

Five Minute Friday: Messenger

I was driving down a hot blacktop street this week with three friends and we were talking about my book. The one that came out in April. And I was surprised to find myself telling them, “the thing about writing a book is that your life doesn’t really change that much.”





You are basically the same person you were before you wrote it. You’ve just learned a whole lot more about that person. And about the God who made that person. But your day-to-day life? It can look a lot the same.  Quieter actually.

And you can start to have all these thoughts that snap at your heels, that worry you into wondering if somehow you didn’t do it right.

This writing thing.

And you wonder if it’s lame that you always seem to write about the same things, the same themes, the same storyline because it’s the one you live every Monday, Tuesday through discombobulated Sunday.

And is it failure not to be cutting edge?

To just be you, living in the skin of your same life.

And even though your good man and your trusted friends tell you that all that quiet you’re uncomfortably comfortable with whispers, “rest” and maybe you actually need one, still you wonder and worry and wake up feeling a slow undercurrent of sad that you don’t quite understand.

I’m thinking maybe you all have felt something like this at some point or another, eh? This pressure to matter, to engage, to write bigger or better or more or different.

It can drive a girl crazy.

And then. Then yesterday I read this on Facebook from well known author, Elizabeth Gilbert, and it’s like all the air whooshes out of me in relief and that big bag of worry rocks I’ve been lugging around rolls off my shoulders and I get the message. I get it. Finally.

This is what Elizabeth said – because maybe you need a messenger today too:

“Dear Ones —

I was speaking to an artist friend the other day, who said she was having a crisis of creativity because she felt she was losing her edge. She feared that her work was not experimental, bold, and innovative enough. She quoted Ezra Pound (“Make it new”) and said she had stopped working because, simply put, she could not figure out any ways to make it new anymore.

I tried to explain to her that the opposite of The Edge is a simpler and older idea of The Craft. While the motto of modernity might indeed be “Make it new” the motto of the traditional craftsman/woman is more like, “Make it again and again and again and again and again, until you get better and better and better and better at it.” (A wordy motto, but you get the point.)

I gave up fighting for The Edge a long time ago, and that’s done me a world of good as an author. I don’t care about The Edge. Standing on the edges of things just gives me vertigo, anyway, and also carries with it a serious risk of toppling over that cliff and dying.

These days, instead, I just work toward honing my craft. I want to be the best and most prolific writer I can possibly be. I want to work every day, the way craftspeople have always worked. I don’t mind returning to the same themes and ideas, to try to craft them better next time. I don’t mind if my writing reminds readers of other authors (that’s called following in a tradition, or offering homage) and I don’t even mind if my new work reminds people of my earlier work. I’m not trying to ignite a revolution every time I sit down at my desk; I just want to pursue excellence.

To do that, I must get out of my own way (including getting out of the way of my ego) and simply do the work. As many times as it takes to get it right.

Do it every day. Do it as well as you can. Repeat, repeat, repeat. That’s craft.


That’s why we do Five Minute Friday, friends.

That’s why.

Now come link up your posts below – let’s keep working at our craft.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    I so appreciate the fact that you’ve been transparent in your journey of becoming a pubslihed author and beyond, including the doubts, the uglies, and the hard. It’s so easy to think everything would be better “If only I had a bigger platform” or “If only I had a published book.” You keep it real around here, and that’s what makes the #fmf community so incredible.

    And this line: “I’m not trying to ignite a revolution every time I sit down at my desk; I just want to pursue excellence.” That went straight to my heart. Thank you for sharing!

  2. 3

    Oh yes, me too, “This pressure to matter, to engage, to write bigger or better or more or different.” Was just feeling this way tonight as I worked on writing “the book”. I asked hubby, “There’s too many I’s in this, too much of me. Will people not want to read it because of that?” He assured me, “It’s a story about you, you have to be in there, there’s no way around that.” It’s about us and Him and how we collide, isn’t it? And that’s what made your book beautiful. It was you and Him and the beautiful crash, clash and blending of your relationship and all that motherhood and the surprises…and this phrase keeps echoing from above, “we need YOUR Story”.:) Rest to you friend. Job well done.

  3. 4

    Being consumed with “Make it New” sucks the life out of The Story – and, for me, it’s the story – whether it comes out in a poem, prose, story, novella (don’t think I can do a novel, though my posts are awfully long sometimes) – the story needs telling – or I will just plain burst – but it needs to be wrapped, written, chosen in love, honesty, meaning – the realness of it all – not for buzz or numbers or fame – but for a God-designed purpose!

  4. 5

    As I read your chapters on Micah yesterday, I was yearning for more. I could so relate to the struggle for with parenting a strong-willed child. I thought about tweeting you and imploring you to write an entire book on this topic, but I thought you might dismiss it because you already “covered” that topic in Surprised By Motherhood. You have so much more insight to give. I would love to learn more about how to pray for my sweet one….my future leader. :) My prayer for her is that she is strong-willed in the important things and submissive to God in all things.

  5. 6

    Thank you for sharing this much-needed message and for faithfully sharing your own. What a refreshing, liberating thought: ” I’m not trying to ignite a revolution every time I sit down at my desk; I just want to pursue excellence.” Loved this message. And your beautiful writing and willingness to be vulnerable consistently inspires. I hope that truth keeps that “slow undercurrent of sad” at bay…

  6. 7

    So encouraged by these words today.

  7. 8

    Beautiful words Lisa-Jo! I think I’ve felt each of these things since publishing my book. I say a big Amen to this “the thing about writing a book is that your life doesn’t really change that much.”

  8. 9

    YES!! So need this today. Thanks!

  9. 10

    Love! As one dedicated to the craft (who unfortunately has spent too much time at the edge lately), thanks!

  10. 11

    This is lovely! Thank you.

    I once had a dance teacher who made us repeat movements until we got them right. And repeat we did: over and over and over. But then the dance was so much more beautiful and joyful whether in class or performance. And the execution was from a deeper and deeper place, a place that required no force but only allowing the movement to come. That’s the way I’ve come to look at my writing. Beauty and joy are reasons enough. And I don’t want it to be forced. I want to reach the deepness in my soul, to give voice to the relationship God has given me with Himself; I want my words to dance.

    Yours do. thanks again for creating #FMF.

  11. 12

    Amen….yes to excellence and no to ego….Great advice…not just for writing but for how we live our lives :)

  12. 13

    This was a great post today. I really liked the quote too. I mentioned you in my 5MF post, too.


  13. 14

    Oh, Lisa-Jo. Thank you for sharing this. I so needed to read these words today. There are so many times I sit down to write and think, “I don’t have anything new to say. Why even bother?” But as I look back, I can see how much I’ve grown and honed my craft. And of course, most of all, I enjoy it. I love it actually. Without that, what is the point? Like Madeleine L’Engle said-we write because if we don’t we will die. Yeah, pretty much. And by the way, your book was magnificent. I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Hugs, Abby

  14. 15

    Sadly I’m running late again. Starbucks wifi is not cooperating. Will wait until I get home. But I have to say I sooooo resonate with this post. I don’t write books or blogs, but when I have spoken at church, for women, led worship, presented Communion, I always am plagued after with the “it could have been better, you should have made it different” etc. Never satisfied. Or it somehow changes me and my life is still normal life. And yes, that too, occasionally makes me a little sad. Not that I expect it to be so very different, but I guess I think someone / others should be changed too. Not explaining it right…
    I’ll be back.

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