Monday, April 7, 2014

The Tip of the Shoelace

Tomorrow I embark on an adventure.

I am going away. I am going alone. I am going to write a book.

I don't even know where to begin. I've tried to begin; I've written an outline and chapter descriptions. I've made a plan and a proposal. I've painted all of the broad strokes and tried to move into the details. I've done everything that the "How To Write a Book" books tell me to do. But the writing ends up empty and lifeless.

I don't know how to write from outlines or plans. I should. But I don't.

Actually, if you want to know the truth, I usually don't know where I'm going when I start to write. I discover my destination through the writing process. I know that I am supposed to start with the end in mind, but I can't do that. Because I don't know the end until after I have started to write.

I was sharing this dilemma with a close friend and she said, "Have I ever told you about how my son draws?"

She has a son who is a gifted artist, but his approach to his work is completely unconventional. Most "How to Draw" books teach artists to start with the broad strokes--the big pieces, the main subject, and to sketch in the details in the end. But my friend told me that her son does just the opposite. If, for example, he wants to draw a skateboarder, he will typically begin with the tip of a shoelace.

I pondered this story for a few days. Then, while running with a friend, I began to explain my writing woes. I was feeling overwhelmed by the task of writing a whole book, especially because I felt that all of my outlines and plans had fallen flat. As I tried to describe my unusual approach to writing I shared the story about this artist's approach to drawing.

And then my friend said nine words that gave me reason to hope: "You just need to find the tip of the shoelace."

She's right. I think that if I try to outline the entire book, the picture will never be clear. But if God will just show me the tip of the shoelace, the picture will probably emerge through the writing process. It's scary to scrap the outline, but I think it's holding me back.

So this is my prayer; my highest hope; my deepest desire. That I would discover the tip of the shoelace, and move boldly and gracefully into my story from there.

Your prayers would be greatly appreciated.

I have written a few blog posts that are scheduled to be published whilst I am away, so Four for France will not be lifeless over the next 9 days. I do not plan to post from England. This will enable me to stay focused on the book project. 

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