Her hands shake. Black, swollen eyes are covered by hurried strokes of makeup, and I worry she’s been beaten. I ask. She says, ‘God told me to write. Then He gives me four kids and a husband who doesn’t earn enough for me to stay home. I’ve no time to write.’ It rips her heart into six pieces.
At the same conference, I discuss the problem with a man. His arms are crossed, and his fingers work as if squeezing a stress ball. ‘If I don’t write, I die. But I can’t get a moment to myself.’ He hunches over and his face contorts. He cries.
These are writers. They care little for being published, for fame, for perceived money. They must write. But there is no time to set aside.
We’re in trenches. This is war.
We can’t be normal writers. No one will give us time to write, so we take it from the day’s hands like an open knife from a toddler. When we do, fifteen minutes opens like sunshine through a misty morning. We snatch our laptop and write. Five sentences, and it carries us through to our next fix.
Our families are our life. They are the few humans who try to understand us. So we bask in the love of our people. Quality minutes. Quality hours. And when they lay their heads down on pillows, we write as if Satan were on our heels and the click of the keyboard is the shield that keeps the devil from ripping our hearts out.
While other writers suffer from writer’s block and low energy and broken self-esteem, we suffer from fits of jealousy that someday we might have battles so time consuming ourselves. God reminds us it’s all wasted emotion, and we wonder what our characters would do when as depressed and frustrated as we are, because our characters are heroes. We listen to our imaginary friends and we take their advice, because it is good advice. They read their Bibles more than we do, so they know…
And our phones are connected to social media 100% of the time, because publishers and God want us to talk about our adventures, and we do, and we answer our fans and their questions, but we do it in the bathroom (don’t judge), or walking across the street (walk around us, please), but never driving, because we’re not stupid.
We’re not locked away in a study typing all day, and we’re doing all we can to not destroy our family’s lives by writing—but we know this is God’s calling. And we’re learning that God has not abandoned us by giving us two incompatible tasks—life and writing—but we’re learning our writing reflects life. Because we’re living our lives to the fullest. And one day, despite swollen eyes and stressed bodies and fragile minds, we wake up, look at our lives, and realize we have become a spokesperson for our God.
Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. www.peterleavell.com.