about writing and life and God

Knowing when to stop

on January 22, 2013

I’ve just watched the woman opposite try to back her car out of the space in front of her garage and onto the road. She got stuck. Several times. Finally her husband came to help her and dig her out of the four-inch snowdrift she’d got her front wheels stuck in.

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I have not attempted to take the car out today. Chicken? Me? Yes. Absolutely.

I met an interesting woman at a drinks party on Sunday. Talking about her teenagers, she repeated the phrase ‘Not a battle I was going to win, so not one worth fighting!’ (I think this was about messy bedrooms.)

I don’t have teenagers but I do know about losing battles. When you get yourself to your desk and you’ve got a nice stretch of hours ahead when you can write… When you could write… But you don’t. Or I don’t.

The Association of Christian Writers has a members’ competition (deadline end January) for a piece about a day in a writer’s life. Somehow I don’t think I’d have any chance of winning if I told the truth: about feeding cats, and having breakfast, then sudoku and coffee and emails and Facebook and tinkering with my sermon for Sunday, talking to the cats, a little light laundry, maybe even some cooking (I notice those sausages I was planning a delicious sausage and bacon casserole with are at their sell-by date)… and the minutes tick by and the hours, so by 5 o’clock, it is with guilty relief that I shut down the laptop and take myself downstairs to cat and armchair and telly. But strangely no magnum opus is being created. In fact just about the only writing I’m doing is the sermon and this blog.

It feels like a kind of creative hibernation. I’m looking at the snow and longing for it to thaw (I’ve had enough now, thank you). I could really use some sunshine to lift my spirits and produce some renewed energy and enthusiasm. Instead of which, I admit, all I want to do is snuggle down with cat and coffee and a good book which I don’t have to write first.

It’s said that much of the peoples of the world can’t see the stars because the lights in their towns and cities are on all night and drown them out. Our world runs a 24-hour clock, a seven-day week. Few people take their whole holiday allowance. And it’s worse when you’re self-employed – which is what we writers are.

Or am I? Surely God is my boss. And in His contract of employment for us He wrote in time off: one day a week. A sabbath. And there’s lots of talk in the Bible about rest. Psalm 23 talks about the quiet waters and green pastures He provides for us. And He reminds us that instead of rushing about, worrying about everything, we’re supposed to turn to Him and let Him sort things out.

So maybe these snow-days are His gift to us: time to stop the frazzling rush. Time even to stop whipping ourselves to do even more with the time we’ve won. And instead let go of the world’s agendas and climb into His arms and rest.





6 responses to “Knowing when to stop

  1. Helen Murray says:

    Oh yes please. Climbing into His arms. Thankyou Dorothy, for telling it like it is again. And making me feel so much better about the hours I spend pottering about but getting little done.

  2. Fran says:

    I really don’t think you’re the only one whose writing days go like that! I teach part-time and so only have limited time to get on and write something substantial, and then the pressure of time (and lots of other things to do, like the school work) keep me away from the desk. Gradually, though, things happen. Just not as fast as I promise myself!

  3. I think ‘snow downtime’ is a wonderful way God gets us to be good to ourselves – physically by resting, and spiritually by spending more time with Him. I have found that myself this past week. May the peace and quiet of the outside seep into your soul and give you peace on the inside. 🙂

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