Friday, March 15, 2013

Flannery Fridays QoTW: The Good China Syndrome

Before there were 5 of us we were 4. I'm the little redhead in front.

And then there were 5. My First Holy Communion, kissing my baby bro.

"A gift of any kind is a considerable responsibility."
--Flannery O'Connor, The Nature and Aim of Fiction

There is not one word I could write that will add anything of significance to that quote.

I'll write anyway. Because I have to.

The Good China Syndrome is the thinking that gifts should only be used on special occasions, and when not in use, to be locked away for "safekeeping."

I put my gift of writing away, trotting it out only when the inspiration hit me. The problem with that is that it's just another way of saying I did nothing. The truth of the mater is that as soon as I put pen to paper (this is the best medium for me right now) the process comes. The work flows. I have something to say, and hopefully, something worth reading.

I've come to realize that a gift is really something (anything) that brings me to Christ. If it doesn't do that, then it is not a gift, it is a torture. Gifts sometimes wear the mask of torture, though it's because they are the cousin of growth. Growth itself is almost always awkward, disconcerting, disturbing and generally messy.

This last point was never more clearly driven home to me as it was last week when I suffered the "writer's torture." Nothing was coming out right and I was berating myself for being an awful writer. I needed out of the self-imposed flagellation and called on my friend Rita, a fellow writer.

I was desperate. She threw the rope and I grabbed on tight. The thing about desperation is that you don't stop to examine who is saving you with what. The only thing you know is that someone is offering you help. You take it.

No one forces you to write, she said. I was in such a crazy head that I said God forces me to write. God doesn't make me do anything. He simply gives me a gift.

Slowly the crazy started to recede. You're concentrating too hard on the outcome, she said, and you're not writing to discover what you know.

I was burying my treasure further in the ground even as I cried out it was too deep for me to get. This is insanity.

That evening, after Rita talked me off the ledge, I sat on the couch to write. It was some of the best writing I have ever done. The wonder and beauty of life shone through, even among the tragedy.

The process of writing to discover what I know is daunting and beautiful.

I've been on a Mumford & Sons kick this week. I crave beauty and their music stirs my soul and turns me toward He Who is Beauty.