Pay Your Dues

After his victory over the tempter in the wilderness, Jesus returned in the “power of the spirit.” In other words, Christ had to face temptation before the full power of the spirit was available to him.

Likewise, we may need to prove ourselves ready for the gifts of inspiration.

During graduate school, at a party after a reading, I was talking to Sara Vogan and C. E. Poverman (alias Buzz). Sara was my friend and fellow student. Buzz had come to give the reading. Sara asked Buzz, who had finished Iowa’s writers’ workshop program a few years before, how long it usually took graduates before they sold a book. Buzz replied that even the writers who succeed most always take ten years from the time they got serious about writing.

He was dead right, I’ve observed. And who can count the ones who fail or drop out along the way?

I began to write in earnest soon after I realized my dad, not I, was the musician in our family, and I was the storyteller.

By “in earnest” I mean every chance I could. If the workdays burnt me out, I would write all weekend. If kids demanded my weekends, I rose early and wrote.

I hauled a wife and baby to Iowa largely because I imagined earning a graduate degree that qualified me to teach writing at a college would allow me more time to write than most professions would.

I don’t mean to whine. If anybody sacrificed because of my choices, it was my family, not me. My life has been a great adventure.

What I do mean is this:

If you want the spirit’s help with your writing, the spirit may require that you make writing your top priority.

I heard about a South Korean man who instantly became a hero of mine. Having been imprisoned in a North Korean labor camp for some political crime, he and another former prisoner wrote and were producing an operatic musical about those camps. They found potential backers, but the South Korean government pressured the backers to withdraw and thereby avoid public outcry that could damage economic cooperation with North Korea.

So this producer mortgaged his kidney to pay for the production.

Let’s think about him when we lament missing Saturday morning volleyball in favor of writing.

One Comment

  1. Well that put’s writing procrastination in perspective, Ken. Your writing style is so readable … both encourages and leaves the question “Well?” invading my thoughts.