Where Does a Writer Find Encouragement?
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
“Cindy, God has given you a gift of writing, and it is your duty to write for Him!”
Imagine being only 26-years-old and personally hearing those words from Elisabeth Elliot—respected mentor, international speaker and author of more than thirty books.
I had already felt a nudging from God on this path of writing, but her words helped confirm and encourage me further. Needless to say, I was a bit daunted, but also energized to pursue more training and opportunity (this happened when I was heading off to Wheaton Graduate School of Communication after graduating from Gordon-Conwell Seminary.)
Believe me, no one is more amazed than I that so many years later, I can look back at my published work, by God’s grace: 12 books authored, 25+ books as contributing author and articles published in more than 50 magazines.
It’s the way we filter life. We don’t always write for publication. Sometimes what we ‘write’ in our minds never makes it to paper or computer, but the stories are there all the same.
As my years increase, so does my wisdom in believing that knowing and telling our stories is perhaps one of the most important ways of participating in furthering God’s Kingdom here on earth. So I am perfectly content at this point to say that I am, indeed, a Storyteller.
“My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours… it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity, as I have long believed and often said, that God makes Himself known to each of us more powerfully and personally. If this is true, it means that to lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but also spiritually.” (Frederick Buechner in Telling Secrets)
Writing is a discipline and only happens when we deliberately make room in our lives to pursue it. My entire life has been filled with people and activity and ministry and drama; and yet I have somehow managed to insert my writing amidst the chaos.
Rarely have I had the luxury to finish a book deadline in complete solitude. Those images of authors working in a cottage by the sea totally undisturbed are not my reality. Most of the time we writers are simply trying to squeeze our craft in between all the other responsibility and serendipity that come our way…
I love what one of my ‘writer heroes’ says: “It will not surprise you if I say that I think being a writer is a fine thing to be. Except for when you actually have to write, of course. Then it is about as exciting as washing dishes. Which is the other thing I do a lot of at my house… Some days I travel somewhere to lead a retreat or speak at a conference. Some days I write letters and answer phone calls as though I were an actual business person, and some days I teach the class at the local high school. I do laundry in between paragraphs on Tuesdays… I wear a lot of hats. Just like everyone else. Some days I feel like a poet and some days I feel like a housekeeper, and some days I cannot tell the difference. I expect most of us feel that way sometimes. Life is made up of a lot of good stuff and a lot of bad stuff, too, and in between you have to clean your room.” (Robert Benson in A Good Life)
This week I have the great privileged of serving on the faculty of the Blue Ridge MountainsChristian Writers Conference near Asheville, North Carolina. Long time a dream of mine (since I first attended back in 1987), I am totally enjoying both formal and informal times of teaching and helping writers discover more creative ways to tell their unique story within the greater Kingdom Story.
This is my sweet spot. Doing what God created me to do. Encourage. Speak. Empower. Challenge. Tell Stories.
Now I’m the one telling that 26-year-old I meet that God has given her a gift of writing and it is her duty to write for Him…
So I will Keep Writing.
And I will also Keep Encouraging Writers.
Trusting God for the fruit…
under the mercy, Cindy