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Adventure of Writing

"It’s important to remember we’re all
explorers–as humans we are risk-takers, whizzing down a hill on a
bike. But we get settled in a pattern. There is so much more inside us."

–Benedict Allen, British explorer, “Disconnecting Is Key to Exploring,”
 Brigid Delaney, CNN.com

We age and something gets in the way of the adventure. Maybe an idol we seek. Something more important. 

Other opinions get in. How easily we forget. Finally, exploring becomes a waste of time. Unproductive. 

Very few have the courage and determination to
go back into the wild, like Allen, or Chris McCandless, the wandering adventurer
of Jon Krakauer’s bio. But there’s something ineluctable about it for
writers, this need to disconnect from the machinations of
influence-seeking. Like McCandless and Allen and countless others
before them (Cobain, anyone?).

We all seek to escape.

And yet, we also desire to be of influence,
to be connectors. The world esteems and rewards natural connectors, conveying power
and respect for their contagious personalities. Their messages compel
us because they’re explorers too, charging blindly into the wilderness
that exists between people, inviting us to come along. They have
something to share about this exploration of connecting.

I’ve known influential connectors
and the surprising truth is that most have tapped the
skill of disconnecting and reconnecting with the outside world. For
many writers, I believe this is a hidden key. Mastering this art
requires jumping into your particular adventure by investing your
personality, experiences, and abilities anonymously before reconnecting.

To connect, they’ve first disconnected
from the world. And to disconnect, they’ve connected with themselves and the
God-given tools for the adventure. The journey is universal, but the
results are always unique. No one is an automaton, but as free agents
in a glorious open experiment, we follow the prime exemplar, denying
ourselves, our selfish concerns, and seeking a better world where
“mattering” no longer matters.

We each have a life to live, but it will only be great if we live it.

We want to leave behind more than
landmarks. We hope to pass on an ability to see. From your own
dangerous adventure, you will teach people how to see their world,
others, themselves, and God, how to see the deeper reality, awakening
both the desire to search it out, and the sight with which to
understand. Flannery O’Connor said that a novelist uses the skills of a
prophet, being able to see the “near things with their extensions of
meaning,” and thus, to see “far things close up.”

As a writer, you carry that—you make the
connections between the visible “near things” and the reality they
represent. You’re the very definition of a connector. If that is in you, there’s no need to question it or ask why. Invest in that
desire. Show that however it may appear, there’s little
distance between things in this world. Strive to show that the
greatest chasms of contrast also create the most compelling complements.

It’s either an esoteric philosophy, or
an intriguing invitation, depending on the context you create in which to explore it. The extent to which you can sense that truth is directly
linked to how much you’ve disconnected from the outside world to
connect to your inner adventurer.

There’s a deep significance in how
you spend your waking moments. What are you pursuing in the quiet
times? It will feel foolish sitting behind a computer and hacking away
at the hidden form behind the screen. But disconnecting from the
distancing influences, you’ll sense this broader perspective and
discover deeper truths tied in webs of meaning you never before

This is the adventure, the brave exploration of an immortal soul, disconnecting to embark on a humbling, overwhelming journey most will never even begin. But this is why you’re needed, to connect it up for them, even as you work and strive yourself to continue, straining to fathom the infinite mysteries.

13 Responses to “Adventure of Writing”

  1. Hey!! Get out of my head, will you?!
    I recently watched “Into the Wild” and then promptly started reading Robert Olen Butler’s “From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction” in which he describes at length this need for writers to get out of their heads and to connect with something deeper.
    He encourages writers that if we can somehow re-connect in the deep places we gain the ability to create the serene kind of beauty that touches the necessary void of our deserted hearts.
    He likens writers to athletes finding their “zone”:
    “If the athlete begins to send the process into his head, he goes into a slump. He misses the basket, he misses that turn. Lights out. He drops the ball. I think, by the way, that’s why athletes are so superstitious. Because if you believe that your current batting streak depends on wearing a pair of dirty socks, you’re less likely to think it has to do with your technique. If it’s technique, you think about it. If it’s your socks, it’s not rational. What superstitions do for the athlete is to irrationalize. And that’s what you have to do as a writer. You have to irrationalize yourself somehow.”
    Even if “irrationalize” isn’t a word, it still has me thinking – not to mention not thinking. And when I’m doing neither of those I spend a fair amount of time thinking about not thinking. Fortunately, I don’t plan on dying alone in a bus.

  2. Katy says:

    Writing is just a crazy thing to do, isn’t it? I may die alone behind a computer…
    From Where You Dream is one of my favorite writing books. It just reinforced for me that this is the kind of crazy I want to be.

  3. I loved this line:
    “Their messages compel us because they’re explorers too, charging blindly into the wilderness that exists between people…”
    Sometimes I think, for me, disconnecting is much easier than connecting. And sometimes, my characters are so much easier to understand than real people.
    For me, the greatest and most difficult distance to cross is the distance between two books. When my old characters have abandoned me, and I’ve yet to discover the new ones. I am lost.

  4. Dee Stewart says:

    I came over here, to get snarky, but was humbled.:)
    Great post. For me I find myself having to be almost rude to my friends and family, because my mind is racing toward a pen and paper. Or I’m writing down some spillage out of my mind when the phone rings or the family’s calling.
    I enjoy life. Love to participate in this world. Life is short you know. But there is something in me that you all recognize within yourselves that charges you to be still until your mind moves, compartmentalizes and discover more manifestations of God, more reasons to love, more ideas to write about.
    Now this is it, Milk. I’m on a blogcation. Do not write anything else great here until next week, when I can respond. And stay away from my TMA posts until then. You people… interrupting my very own writing adventure. :)

  5. L.L. Barkat says:

    I like this. I just like the way you wrote it. That’s fair, right?

  6. Rachel Marks says:

    You said it, Merrie! “My characters are so much easier to understand than real people.” How very true.
    As Terry Brooks says: “I’m not all there.” I made my husband read the forward of his “Sometimes the Magic Works” so that I could prove to him that I wasn’t insane–or at least if I was, I wasn’t alone. ;)
    It’s so hard to be in the now when the vivid world of your story is calling you. And, yes, in the end it’s all about connection. Connection to something beyond yourself, to the readers, to an amazing truth. I think that’s the most addicting thing about writting for me. When it all comes together and the story is finished, and all the pieces of character, story, and truth have fallen into place.
    Great thoughts, Mick.

  7. I prayed about the idea of being ordained in my church either as priest or deacon, but then I realized that my calling to be a priest and prophet isn’t to be in the office of priest. It’s to be the artist as priest and prophet.
    Your piece raises some interesting points, first of which is if we are to be priests and prophets, if we are to connect people to a deeper reality, the unseen reality, if are art is to be embodied or incarnate theology, than we must know this theology, this God, this reality. I think the Church in general has done a poor job of spiritually forming artists. The Church doesn’t know what to do with them, how to handle them, how to teach them. I think that there are several movements striving to overcome this.
    Also, there’s the idea, as Barbara Nicolosi brought up in a conference I recently attended, about loneliness and isolation. I would connect it (ha-ha) to your idea of disconnection. The dangers–we easily fall prey to depression and moroseness. The positives–we understand what it means to be silent and wait. This resonates with me. On the one hand, I struggle with depression. On the other, I treasure my writing times. I rarely play music (which seems odd to most people since I’m a musician). I write in silence, cultivating this dialogue between God, my writing, and me.

  8. Um, that should be “our art” not “are art.”
    Boy, is my face red.

  9. Heather,
    I too am a musician and yet write in silence – prefer silence – even prefer isolation. But I often wonder if there isn’t a discipline to silence and to filtering out the world’s ‘noise’ in its many forms.
    great thoughts…

  10. Amy says:

    wow. you have such a gift for words! thanks for inspiring me to see my work as a journey worthy in and of itself, rather than as a solitary computerized laptop world requiring a reader’s redemption.

  11. Jo says:

    As always, this is just what I needed to be reminded of. I just love this blog!!

  12. Kay Martin says:

    Just found your site and love it.
    You said:
    We hope to pass on an ability to see. From your own dangerous adventure, you will teach people how to see their world, others, themselves, and God, how to see the deeper reality, awakening both the desire to search it out, and the sight with which to understand.
    Yes, God has called us to join HIm in the ADventure of living. He calls us into abundant living. As we share in writing, art, and dialogue we can “see” and experience life to a more dynamic level. As a writer returning to her calling I pray I can craft my words to evoke as much life as yours here have me.

  13. Kay says:

    You fire me up every time I read your posts, but today you hit me where I thrive and ache. I have loved writing since my teen years, but taking the time to disconnect seemed nearly impossible. I didn’t have the insight to understand the process, but I knew I had to disconnect to get to the thoughts that mattered.
    Because of much pain and betrayal in my life; starting at day one, the thought of disconnecting was terrifying until a few years ago. Now, In Christ, I have peace that truly passes all understanding. I love people with a love that is purer, because I am complete in Him. Now, I can disconnect and dig for the truth and know that I am whole with our without people up close and personal.
    Thank you for your great insight. I think I need to be here more often to grow as a writer. God bless and keep you.

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