Some of you may have heard my response to this question when asked at the launch of 'The Outskirts of His Glory' last year. And if you've forgotten or haven't yet heard, take a little look at the video below...
Yes, I admit it, I want to be famous! Well, not really. But I would like to know how someone becomes famous. And if they can do it, why can't I?
All joking aside, why do I write?
The Big Question
And that has to be the question really, doesn't it? Why do we do what we do? Whether we're running the home or running a company, there are moments when we must take a look at what we are busy with, what occupies our time and our thoughts and to then honestly assess ourselves before God. To ask whether I have become, like Martha, 'anxious and troubled by many things, when only one is necessary'? (Luke 10:41).
I was challenged to ask this question in earnest a couple of months ago after taking a scroll through my Twitter feed. My attention was drawn to a brief survey that someone had posted asking exactly that question - 'why do you write?' The options available were 'In order to earn a living'; 'To get my message heard'; and 'To influence others'.
The Holy Spirit dropped the gentlest of convictions in my heart as I pondered those three options. Jokingly, I have said I want to be famous. But in truth? God asked me, almost three years ago now, to 'write what I see in a book'. This surely should be the reason I write; in obedience to the One who longs for me to choose 'the good portion, which will never be taken from her'(Luke 10:42).
Cabbage or Drop
When I was growing up in England there was a really silly children's TV show called 'Crackerjack!'. It was wonderful early Saturday evening viewing and my sister and I loved it. There was one game on the show we particularly enjoyed, called 'Double or Drop'. Here, three young contestants had to stand holding a pile of goodies in their open arms, the one able to hold on the longest being the one to take the pile home at the end of the show. Sound easy? There was, of course, a catch. Prizes were won when questions were answered correctly; give a wrong answer, and a huge leafy cabbage was the 'prize'. Three cabbages and you're out.
Now, for little outstretched arms, those cabbages were torture. They were the difference between winning and losing, between a treasure trove of delight and literal empty hands.
I have discovered the writing life can be a bit like a game of 'Cabbage or Drop'(as we nicknamed it). There is so much to hold on to, so many prizes to win. Marketing strategies, social media planning and posting, writing research, learning and improving and editing and rewriting. And then a cabbage or two comes along and the pile becomes too high and everything falls to the ground in a heap of disappointment and frustration. And actual writing doesn't seem to happen.
Release in Me...
This was my whisper when I first started out as a writer. And what a tornado God has unleashed since! I have libraries of words in my heart and head, all waiting to flow through my hand onto a page. And yet I keep finding my arms full of cabbages instead.
The solution? To find again the reason for writing, to sit in 'quietness and confidence' at the feet of Jesus and hear Him again say 'write what you see in a book'. Simple.
Have you found yourself in your own personal game of 'Cabbage or Drop', with too much to hold on to? Maybe ask the Holy Spirit to present you with a few survey questions of your own. Taking the time to honestly evaluate ourselves maybe a little painful but it could just be the difference between going home with the prize or with empty hands.
So, why do I write? Because I can't not.