One evening when I was in college, I attended an orchestral concert in the large Gothic Revival chapel. The atmosphere was elegant, subdued. The space was dim, candles on two grand wooden candelabras burned up front, and hundreds of listeners were swept up in the rise and swell of the music.
I sat toward the back. In my late teens and early twenties I was terrifically shy; I avoided talking to professors, stuck tight to my core group of friends, and did my best to avoid any limelight. The student body at my college was extreme in its intelligence and talent, which intimidated me terribly; for three years I was convinced admissions had made a mistake by accepting me, and I struggled mightily to prove to myself or anyone that I belonged. I’m not sure when or how that feeling dissipated, but the night of this concert certainly helped. Continue reading
Back before the Internet, when my two sources of interruption were the mailman and the telephone, my computer functioned like a typewriter or notebook, singular in its purpose. I like to imagine that I could focus, settling down into a project, losing myself in creation and emerging hours later, but the truth is I grasped for distractions even then—a hangnail, lukewarm coffee in need of heating, the dirty laundry which might as well go into the washer because I wasn’t getting much done anyhow.
Prayer was no different. Continue reading
After having done all I can for a writing project—after it’s finished, published, promoted, and my energy for it is exhausted—I enter creativity’s no-man’s-land. It’s a sprawling, barren landscape. Either I’m worn out from the last project with little energy for the next, or I feel used up, as though I’ve reached the end of inspiration’s wellspring, or I’m writing but whatever I draft is a sprawling, blathering desert of words. I feel bereft; I’ve left a lovely world of my own making and can never return. I’m hopeless, because despite whatever success my project achieved, it’s inadequate, and besides, what more could I possibly do? I wonder whether I’ll ever write well again.
Luckily I’ve been around this block enough times to know this emptiness passes. Continue reading