Shoot the Wad

Lisa Samson,
three-time Christy award-winner and author of 34 books including Quaker
Summer, is known for excellence in writing as well as her artistic bent,
but more than anything, perhaps, the name Samson brings to mind authentic
stories that make you think. Once
asked why she writes, she said, “So people will know they’re not
alone.” Dealing with difficult issues has also given Samson a reputation
for courage in her writing. Lisa, a visual artist as well, has three children
and lives with her youngest daughter, her dog, Zeus, and too many cats, in
Lexington, Kentucky.

One of the
reasons I’m not on the writer’s conference circuit any longer is because I became
tired of hearing myself talk, blabbing the same old tired things, giving the
same old advice over and over again. That’s not the way I’m wired. After a
while, I figured out there were better teachers than I at these gatherings,
saying a lot of the same things I was, granted, but doing it better than I ever
So I went back
to just writing, and living, and trying to figure out what it means to be
faithful to my giftings. That’s not an easy process, is it? Because
unfaithfulness tends to snake its tendrils into every area of your life.
When Ane asked
me to write a column, I jumped on it, and for the life of me, I can’t tell you
why. I hate being boxed in, committed to anything but a deadline or what the
day presents, because let’s face it, that’s more than enough for one person to
handle. Maybe it was time to share again, not because I have sage wisdom that
has collected after more than two decades of trying to figure out this writing
thing, but simply because I’m trying to be faithful.
So in the event
that I pull out of my driveway today, turn onto Lafayette Parkway only to be
plastered into the next life by a Best Buy truck thereby making this the only
column I write, I’m going to offer you the best piece of writing advice I’ve
Shoot the wad
Seriously. Don’t
save your best storyline for later. Use it now. And what’s more, use the most
intriguing characters you’ve ever come up with to people that tale. Keep a list
of striking metaphors? Try and employ every single one of them in your current
work in progress. Don’t skimp. Don’t save. Become a wanton spender of your
Walk down the
aisle of your brain and throw the most expensive, most dearly won life-lessons
right into your cart and don’t look back. Pull down all the paintings in the
halls of your imagination and throw them onto the fires of your passion and let
them burn, right onto the pages of your books and poems and stories and
articles. Let nothing remain. Empty all the tanks. Sweep clean the vaults. Roll
up the rugs and give away all the furniture.
I’ll let you in
on a little secret.
If you live and
love and take chances, if you open your eyes to the world not as you think it should be, but as it is, every single bit of it
will soon be replaced.
Don’t save
anything for later. Use it now.
If you have an
idea you don’t think you’re talented enough at this point to develop, use it
anyway. Your brain thought it up right now, your brain will figure out how to
use it. Trust yourself. Use yourself. Take your life, roll it around in your
mouth, chew it up, swallow it, and fuel your work with abandon. Become a
self-cannibalizing glutton and don’t apologize for it.
Each work you
set out to do deserves no less than this. Be ruthless in the scraping of your
soul; turn your heart inside out and dump out every last item inside. Use every
last piece you can find and then watch with wonder as life hands you more.
Thomas Nelson
Releases 2/18/14
an artist with a supportive husband and a house that folks on her block admire
outright. But she’s restless and bored with life.
her legendary Aunt Bel shows up, wearing a smile after years without a word.
years ago, fresh out of college, Bel left for a summer missions trip and never
returned. Now she’s on Sara’s doorstep, looking for a place to crash. Sara
can’t say no to family, even if she hasn’t seen Bel since she was a
nine-year-old girl. But saying yes to Bel turns Sara’s whole
precariously-balanced life upside down.