Just as our nonfiction workshop was finishing up at the Laity Lodge writers retreat, Lauren Winner said to the group, “I don’t know what you’re planning to do with your afternoon break, but I would suggest that you take advantage of the time and write.”Had she seen the canyon? The river?Have you?Slip over to Jumping Tandem for a minute and gaze upon the beauty that Deidra captured from that place.Can you imagine the dilemma I faced?I could hike out and gaze upon the glory of God’s creation…Or I could write.I could canoe, kayak, or swim in the Frio river…Or I could write.Our High Calling team had been staying up crazy-late every night. I was exhausted, craving a nap. So I could curl up on a hammock and rest…Or I could write.I was debating, hesitating.Deidra invited me to hike with the group that was assembling. “Come on!” she encouraged. “Come with us!””I’d go,” I said, “but Lauren said we should write!”Deidra grinned and said, “Well, I’m going on a hike in this gorgeous setting to get inspiration for my writing!”She almost got me with that; I almost joined them. Just when I was thinking through how I might run to my room, change clothes and race back to join the hike, Lauren passed by.”What are you going to do?” she asked.”I don’t know,” I admitted. “I’m tempted to hike.””Do whatever you like,” Lauren responded, “but I find that about 95 percent of the time, the biggest problem writers face is time. They just don’t have time to work. So when the good Lord hands you a block of three hours, I think you should take advantage of it and write.”With that, she strode off—presumably to her room.To write.I watched her go.I glanced in the direction of the hikers.Then I hoisted my pink backpack onto my shoulder and headed down a little path near the water.To write.After a short distance, I stopped.Should I be hiking with the others? I wondered. No, I resolved. I should write.I scoured the area for scorpions and then cautiously set down my bag. I snapped a couple of shots of the dam.And the canyon.Then I put away my camera, spread out my jacket, lay back and closed my eyes for a minute.I should have hiked, I thought while lying there.I sat up again, too wary of scorpions to nap peacefully on the ground.And then I pulled out a notebook and pen. I thought of the revision exercises we’d done in the workshop and the advice the group gave me for my piece.I scribbled down some ideas, but produced nothing substantial.I thought of the struggle I was feeling about where to go next with my work and asked God if I might get a hint from Him of where to focus—not just at that moment sitting near the dam, but long-term.All I heard was a bird or two chattering in the trees nearby. All I saw was the dam, the canyon wall, and the sky.I wrote very little during my time alone; I received no clarity for what’s next.But I had the dam, the canyon wall, and the sky.And as I packed up my notebook and walked back to the dining hall that afternoon, I thought, That’ll do. For now, that’ll do.
Megan Willome says
You have more self-control than I do! I would’ve hiked. I always hike at Laity. But I believe that your answers will come, and that just maybe, the dam and the canyon wall and the sky will be part of that.
I am listening for answers, Megan. Thanks for your encouragement–and sharing the love of all that beauty.
Sitting alone in silence by the dam was good; but next time, I think I will hike.
I have soooo little time to write. I think you made the write decision.
You know the struggle, too, then? That really hit me when Lauren said it–I struggle to find time, as well. I think I made the *write* decision, too! 🙂
Hazel I. Moon says
Gold star, because you did follow instructions. A quiet place, or while in the shower, or in the middle of the night (while in bed) that is when I get inspiration. Your photos are so beautiful!!!
Ed Cyzewski says
What I see here is the beginning of clarity before writing. I find that I have to walk by myself or have some time alone not writing so that I can write. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but what you describe here feels very familiar to me.
Michelle DeRusha says
Oh you are one tough cookie, settling down to write when everyone else was off on a fun adventure. Good for you — that takes guts. And even if you didn’t produce a masterpiece of prose on the spot, I agree with Ed — you were setting the stage for what’s to come.
Sometimes I feel like I *should* write…and I go for a run or a walk instead. But I find while I am breathing labored that I write in my head, snippets and phrases and beginnings. Then I dash through the door all sweaty, grab a pen and jot down my ideas and phrases on a scrappy. It works…sometimes! 🙂