Thursday, February 10, 2011

Writers as Warriors

Newbery book giveaway still open! Win Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool, now through February 13! Scroll down one post. 

Okay, so I'm not sure where this post is going. I'll start out by saying that I'm not a military type. At all. I greatly respect those who are, because I could never cut it, physically or emotionally. I was raised by a father who was part of the WWII Marine landing on Tarawa. He survived, though injured and at one point given six months to live. I learned early to ask no questions. I had to get my answers from books. (And it was fictional accounts that brought the horror of Tarawa to life. Nonfiction may be facts, but fiction is truth.) I'm sure my father suffered from what would now be called PTSD. I grew up giving thanks every day that I was a girl, because everybody knew boys went to war. It was inevitable. And yet my dad not only went, but rushed to enlist after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Incomprehensible.

But I've learned a few things, and come to believe a few things:
  • When you have an enemy, you fight. Appeasement doesn't lead to peace. It invites more aggression, because an enemy that's truly an enemy doesn't want peace with you. He wants to destroy you. When someone engages you in war, you're in one, whether you face it or  not.
  • As a Christian, I take the "bad news" seriously: We have an enemy, a real one, and he wants to destroy us. "Us" meaning everybody.
  • Persecution makes you stronger. For example, every time the early church suffered a blow and was scattered, it served to spread the church, not squelch it. When the Apostle Paul was chained for preaching the gospel, the reason for his chains was repeated far and wide.
Attack came. Attack that I knew was spiritual but manifested in the natural. I warred. In prayer. Hours a day. Quiet. Loud. Confident. Scared. Strong. Broken. In every way I could learn about and every way I already knew. And. Did. Not. Give. Up.

And won. Intercessory prayer is, primarily, war. Who knew?

And then came the books on writing. The Art of War for Writers, by James Scott Bell. And next, so help me, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, the latter of which names our enemy "Resistance" and exposes its many guises and deceptions. How can I help but conclude that the concept of writer as warrior is something I need to understand, and understand now?

Pressfield says this to those who let Resistance keep them from their craft: "You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God. Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got."

If that weren't enough, St. Bernard of Claireaux said, "Every word you write is a blow that smites the devil."

Well, then I'll try to get in as many licks as I can.


Bish Denham said...

Wow! Wonderful post Marcia. Something for sure that I need(ed) to hear/read right NOW! Thanks.

Susan Fields said...

What awesome quotes! And what a wonderful way to think about writing. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Tabitha said...

Fabulous post!!! I wholeheartedly agree (imagine that). There definitely are days where I feel like a warrior battling the evil Resistence, Fear, and I-Suck demons. :)

Laura Pauling said...

Very moving post, Marcia. And so true, all of it. My husband would rush off to war too except he hurt his back 2 week before boot camp. We wouldn't be married if it weren't for that. God works in mysterious ways.

Vijaya said...

This is a wonderful post Marcia. Fight the good fight. I'm trying to teach my children how to discern what is worth fighting for. And the Bible is our guide.

Marcia said...

Bish -- You're welcome! Glad you found it helpful.

Susan -- You're welcome too. :I also love the quotes.

Tabitha -- Some days I feel like I'm swimming through the swamp of life to gain writing time. Well, that swamp monster's goin' down. :)

Laura -- My son got married because somebody smashed into him two days after he got a new car. When his girlfriend rolled up her sleeves and planned out how they would share her car while his was getting fixed, he knew she was a keeper.

Vijaya -- What's worth fighting for -- what a very crucial thing for us all to learn.

MaDonna Maurer said...

Really liked this post. You have given me a new look at writing. Thanks!

Andrea Vlahakis said...

What a thought-provoking post, Marcia. I like the notion of not cheating the world of your gift or contribution, which is so different from wanting fame or glory. It's giving—your gift—as opposed to taking.

Mary Witzl said...

My father emerged from WWII with PTSD too. He hardly ever talked about what had happened to him. As an adult, doing my own research on the war, I realized why: my father wouldn't even kill spiders. I grew up thanking God I would never have to fight. But it breaks my heart that so many young people end up giving their lives in war.

I like the idea of giving evil a couple of kicks in the butt. But even more than that, I like the idea of promoting goodness.

Marcia said...

MaDonna -- You're welcome! I think a lot of would-be writers are looking for life to give them permission to write. This is permission + obligation!

Andrea -- Yes, it's a good idea for aspiring writers to examine themselves and figure out why they're in this. If it's to give, the gain -- in some form -- will follow.

Mary -- It breaks mine, too. I grew up in a church with a woman about my mom's age who had never married. She was quiet, kind, a faithful worker. Most of us kids considered her rather boring. Decades later I learned her fiance had died in the war. And she had never once called attention to her loss.

Jeff King said...

I always do... thx.

Marcia said...

Good for you, Jeff -- and thank YOU.

Christina Farley said...

Oh I really loved this post too. And you are so right. Fear is a big issue for me. Putting my work out there. Totally fearful of that. Bruce Hale talked about this in Miami and I think somebody is trying to tell me something!