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Posts tagged ‘writing’

Stretched to the Shape of A Writer

 

I have a confession to make.

I love to read.

That’s probably no surprise, if you know me.

But here’s the thing.

 

Sometimes:

I read about running…instead of running.

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I read about eating healthy…instead of eating healthy.

I read about praying…instead of praying.

 

I read about writing…instead of writing.

 

Anybody with me here? Ever read about how to paint with watercolors instead of actually painting watercolors? Read about forgiving instead of actually forgiving?

Read about traveling instead of actually traveling? Read about building a deck or planting a garden instead of actually building the deck and planting the garden? Read

about simplifying instead of actually simplifying? Read about exercising instead of actually exercising???

 

I read about a subject…then, all too often, it stops right there.

 

On Being a Writer, Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig’s new book, changed that.

 

You notice that the title of the book is On BEING a Writer, not On DREAMING about Being a Writer. Not On IMAGINING Being a Writer. Not  On THINKING

about Being a Writer.

 

The title is On BEING a Writer.

 

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In 2013, Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig taught an online writing class. Thankfully, I was one of the students. What started as a writing class became a writing

community.

 

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Over twelve weeks, we journeyed from being strangers to being friends. We moved from reading about one another to caring about one another. It was rare. It was

lovely. It was about being fully present to one another as we journeyed together into the writing life.

 

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Some of us had long been writers. On the other hand, some of us were even reluctant to admit that we were writers. Some of us were burned out in our writing life.

Words were oxygenless, smothered and flat. Some of us were newly-arrived at this writing life. Raw and scared but willing to wonder.

 

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As we wrote our way through that online course, which became this marvelously succinct book, On Being a Writer, all of us moved past thinking about a writing life to

living a life of writing.

 

This book, based off of that class, centers around twelve premises, all of which remind me how to BE a writer. The hows and whys of the writing life are examined but it

doesn’t stop there. Along the way, I read, ponder my identity as a writer, and then actually write, as if I am a real writer. I arrange my days to accommodate my writing

life.

 

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On Being a Writer stretches the shape of my writing, just as it stretches me to be a writer. (This even after I’d been writing more than 90% of my life. This even after I’d

coauthored and published a nonfiction book.) I need the encouraging of this book. It stirs up the memory of the gifts I have and challenges me to be full of the guts and

grit to step into them. It launches me afresh into being a writer. It’s encouraged me to arrange my life is such a way that what I read becomes how I am being. I think t

hat’s a good start which will surely embolden me to do likewise in other arenas. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually plant a garden one of these days.

 

So, I have a confession to make.

 

I am a writer. I read about writing…and then, I write.

 

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What about you?

 

Lane Arnold, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s next?

 

 

Inevitably, if you write a book, people ask what you’re writing next.

Maybe that’s true for anything.

When you get your degree, people ask when you will get another degree.

When you get a job, they ask what kind of work you’d like next.

When you get married, people ask when you’re having a baby.

When you have a baby, they ask when you’ll have more.

When you rent a house, folks ask when you’re buying one.

When you pen a poem, the neighbors inquire when you’ll write another.

When you create essays, friends wonder when you’ll turn out more.

What’s next seems to be the next question asked.

I should know. I get asked that often these days.

You see, my coauthor Valerie Hess and I wrote a nonfiction book on the physical body and its interplay with our spiritual formation as we follow Christ. (http://lanearnold.co/book)

Next up you wonder?

I’m turning back to writing what was on my heart before I began the nonfiction: a novel.

It’s on the way our lives never turn out how we thought they would because what’s next is always full of shimmer and shine, dry deserts, wit and whimsy, shattering disappointments, long waitings full of jagged edges, and gloriously glistening redemptions.

My turn to ask the question.

What’s next for you?

 

Lane Arnold

© 2013 All Rights reserved.

 

The Habit of Poetry

 

“I want to be a better writer, so I try to read a poem a day,” says L. L. Barkat.

I agree. Reading poetry changes how I look at words and how I write them. It’s like the interplay of chocolate and oranges: rich, juicy, tart, and unexpected.

Poetry came into my life early: nursery rhymes from the crib forward, poems memorized in elementary school, and the sappy love poems read in my teenage years. Then there was a wonderful elementary teacher who got me started on writing poems. After that, poems came in through the front door, by the window, on the back porch…from just about from every angle of my life.

Looking back, I don’t suppose I really thought I’d keep up the habit of reading poetry, or writing it, for that matter, yet I have.  I’m glad I’ve done so.

It’s a small habit over these almost six decades of life. Little things, done often, add up to a rich, juicy, tart, and unexpected life.

What small habit might you adopt today that would enrich your life from here forward?

 

Lane M. Arnold

 

 

 

 

Legal literacy

Copyright © 2012 Lane M. Arnold. The word content on this page is the sole property of the author and may not be used or reproduced in any manner without consent. All Rights Reserved.

Being You

Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.                               St. Catherine of Siena

I am contemplative. I pray to discern. I linger longer at the heart of Love to hear His call, His longing for me. A life of listening prayerfulness is about listening to God more than listening to myself. I listen to hear His heart for my heart. I listen to hear His heart for another. I listen for family’s hearts and for friends’ hearts and for my spiritual directees’ hearts. I am contemplative.

But sometimes I want to stay only contemplative and that is, on occasion, a choice made of fear. I want to be sure. I want to be clear. I don’t want to be stretched or rearranged into the unknown. A comfort zone is comfortable, isn’t it? But, God doesn’t really call me to be comfortable. He calls me to step into love’s action.

Contemplation in action is requesting more of me.

Thinking on the seemingly disparate differences between contemplation and action led me again to St. Catherine of Siena. She wasn’t a familiar name until I visited Siena in 2004, while my daughter, an art major, was studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Being a good mother, I flew over to check in on her. Oh, and by the way, while I’m here…let’s see a bit of Italy.

One gold-lit afternoon as we meandered medieval lanes in Siena, we came across references to St. Catherine. Born in the 1300s to a merchant family who were somewhat prosperous, she chose a spiritual commitment to Christ over a social commitment to marriage and affluence, having experienced some holy encounters with Christ. Upon entering an order of laywomen, she spent three years in solitary contemplation. Such silence of prayer set a foundation of strength and stability at a heart level with God. Yet, God called her forth from her life of contemplation into a life of action. For St. Catherine, the blend of contemplation and action were not opposed to one another, but were rather complements that took her singleness of heart to a service of others. She encouraged, mediated, taught, comforted and served others through her contemplation gathered from her prayerful heart, her presence offered by her serving heart, and her gift of writing, both letters and a book, grown from an obedient heart.

I watch St. Catherine and find myself challenged: will I sit only in contemplation and never act? Or will I move forward into a life that blends the power of silence and the power of service?

I’m at a change point. It’s time to step into or step up to action. My novel has languished on the shelf, literally, while I’ve gone about my life of being a spiritual director. My prose and poetry have shriveled in a dried out corner while my energy has focused on a nonfiction book on the physical body and our life with Christ and the Body of other Christ-followers, due out in January of 2013.

It’s time now to believe, to act, to move past thinking about to being within, to doing the work, to creating the wonder with another part of my writer’s heart.

The pivot points are here:

  1. Discernment: I am a writer. I have a story worth telling. This is God’s gifting to me. I am to celebrate His Presence in me by writing words to others.
  2. Delight: Like Eric Liddell’s famous line in Chariots of Fire, I feel God’s pleasure when I run by writing in His giftings of my heart, both in nonfiction and fiction, in poetry and prose.
  3. Discipline: Thinking about writing won’t write the story, won’t create the poem. Investing in discipline will. I will arise before the day takes off and in the quiet of dawn, I will act as a writer does: I will write.

St. Catherine spurs me on with her prayers: I have naught to give save what Thou hast given me.

She reminds me that effort is involved: Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.

She challenges me: Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.

She encourages me: I treasure your knowing how to give the world a kick.

St. Catherine sets the bar high: Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.

I’m moving forward, blending my contemplative heart and my writing art into an action that will set the world on fire…or at least start a small blaze glowing. Who knows what can happen from here?

What about you? How will you set the world on fire by being whom God meant you to be?