Let the Gorillas Come

by Marcia Lee Laycock

It’s somewhere in Africa. A young woman sits cross-legged on the ground, surrounded by tall grass. She has been told to sit very still. She can hear snuffling noises and now and then a grunt. When the massive head of a gorilla pokes out between the grasses, she is tempted to leap up and run. But she sits quietly. The gorilla approaches, moves around her, touches her hair, sniffs her shoulder. She remembers the instructions she was given: “No sudden movements. Keep your eyes on the ground.” 


She tries not to think of what those massive hands and arms could do to her. She tries to relax her shoulders. Slowly. Another gorilla approaches, then another. They investigate her, sit close by grooming one another before slowly ambling away. The young woman lets out her breath and smiles. She knows she has just won a great victory over fear. The adrenaline coursing through her body makes her laugh out loud.

Writing coach Natalie Goldberg wrote -“A writer must be willing to sit at the bottom of the pit, commit herself to stay there, and let all the wild animals approach, even call them up, then face them, write them down, and not run away.”

There seems to be an underlying belief among many Christians that writing about what is painful and ugly in life is somehow denying the goodness of God. That is not what the Bible teaches. Psalm 12:6 (KJV) says – “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. “Tried in a furnace of earth.” That doesn’t sound pleasant to me. “Purified seven times.” That sounds like struggle and anguish and pain that has been forged into what is pure and wholesome.

Madeleine L’Engle once said – “It is not that what is, is not enough, for it is; it is that what is has been disarranged, and is crying out to be put in place.”

We do not write about the dark, the things born of despair, in order to glorify them, but in order to put them in their place and to recognize that there is something more, something infinitely better – there is redemption of all that is ugly and evil in this world, because of what happened on a cross at the base of a hill in a tiny country then called Palestine.

1Cor. 4:2 says – “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” I believe we have been given a trust as writers and we must be faithful to it. To make our lives of use to others we must be willing to touch those parts of ourselves that are universal, both the evil and the noble. It is when we are able to reach that level that we will produce good work, significant work, perhaps even life-changing work.

Bruce Cockburn, the Canadian song writer and poet said, “you’ve got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.”

This is the work we have been given to do. May He find us faithful. 

This is the work we have been given to do. May He find us faithful.~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)



Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. 

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers is available on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format. 
Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 

Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur

When Writing is Like Riding a Horse

by Marcia Lee Laycock

I’ve always been horse crazy. It took many years of begging before my mother let me learn how to ride a horse and many more after that before I owned one. I remember the day I woke up and looked out my bedroom window and saw Cheyenne grazing in the field. I almost pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
Cheyenne was a big Paint gelding. I had to stand on a box to saddle him. I used a stack of hay bales to mount. And I shook like a leaf the first few times I did it. It wasn’t that I was afraid, it was more that I was awestruck. This was a real live horse, who needed to be fed and groomed and cared for in all kinds of ways and he was now my responsibility. But then I’d put my foot in the stirrup and settle into the saddle, the reins held firmly, and with a slight movement of my hands and legs I could direct that huge animal. Cheyenne loved to run and I loved to let him. It was then I forgot all about the responsibility and just let the thrill of riding course through me.

Sometimes I still shake that way when I begin to work on a new writing project, especially a book. The task is so daunting, so huge, so important. It often leaves me a bit awestruck. I can’t help but think of the serious responsibility I have as the keeper of the gift of being a writer of faith, a writer in God’s kingdom. But then the keys begin to clack and the words begin to flow and I forget all about the responsibility. I just let the thrill of creating course through me.

I remember watching a blues singer perform on a small stage once. The man was a master of his art. He played and sang as though he were controlling a strong animal. He captivated his audience and he gloried in it. At one point, he started to nod and then he smiled. Then he laughed out loud. It had all come to together. The instruments, his voice, the eagerness of the audience. It was one big “Yes!” and he knew it.

Many have quoted that famous line from Chariots of Fire where Eric Liddell says, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” Sometimes when I write, I sense His laughter. When I’m in the moment, in Him, tied to Him through the words that are pouring out, it is like nothing else matters. It is one big “Yes!”

I think perhaps this is what Paul meant by “in him it has always been “Yes” (2 Corinthians 1:19) – an emphatic, triumphant, laugh in the face of evil, shouted from the rooftops, “Yes!”

When we are in Christ, doing what He has called us to do, loving Him and loving the work, it will always be a joyous “Yes!”

TWEETABLES

When Writing is Like Riding a Horse by Marcia Laycock (Click to Tweet)

It wasn’t that I was afraid, it was more that I was awestruck.~ Marcia Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Eric Liddell says, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.”~ Marcia Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. 

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers is available on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format. 
Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 

Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur

A Pruning Process

by Marcia Lee Laycock

I’ve had a geranium plant for several years. Every spring I put it outside and it flourishes. Every fall I bring it inside and it goes a bit dormant, but still manages to flower now and then, though some of the leaves shrivel and go yellow, then brown. Almost every time I water it through the winter I trim off the dead leaves, dropping them into the large pot that holds the plant. They crumble and eventually become nourishment for that old geranium.

I go through a similar process when I write, trimming what is not necessary from my sentences, paragraphs and chapters. Sometimes it’s a painful process. (I love my words too much, methinks!) But I take comfort in knowing that even what is discarded can be useful. I cut and paste the discarded scenes, and even sentences, popping them into a ‘bits and pieces’ file. Some of them are used in other stories and paragraphs. They are all nourishment for my work.

And a similar process happens in my spiritual life. God is the pruner, taking away those things that are not useful or beneficial for me at the time. He is quite skilled at it, though I sometimes object. Sometimes the action makes no sense and may even feel like punishment.

Such was the case some time ago, when I made plans to attend a writers’ conference with two friends. That particular year the main speaker was Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, a man I had admired for many years both as a person and a writer. But when I prayed about going, I had a strong negative check in my spirit. I ignored it. Surely God wanted me to go. There would be so much benefit to me as a writer and a believer. But each time I prayed I had the same feeling. Then one of my friends called to say she’d been praying and felt that God did not want her to go. Then my other friend admitted the same thing had happened to her. I was not happy. I could not understand why God would prevent us from doing something that would be so good for all of us. But in the end, we were obedient.

It’s at those times that I have to remember that God is always on my side. He gives and takes away, always with our good in mind, as I do when I prune my geranium.

I also try to remember that God wastes nothing. The very process of pruning has purpose and is part of His plan. The battle I waged within my spirit during that time taught me much about obedience and about focusing on the nature of God’s character. It still saddens me that I was not able to hear Mr. Solzhenitsyn speak, but the benefit I acquired in learning obedience was no doubt much greater. It helped me to be able to echo, with sincerity, the words of Job –

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:231).

TWEETABLES


God wastes nothing.~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. 

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers is available on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format. 
Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 

Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur

I Am Not A Writer

By Marcia Lee Laycock @MarciaLaycock

For many years, indeed, for as long as I can remember, my identity has been totally and inextricably bound up in being a writer. It’s not just what I am, I told myself, it’s who I am. Sadly, over the years, that perception led me to a place that was filled with stress and burden. In fact, it became like a prison in a way, a prison of my own making.

Today I am declaring that no, indeed, I am not a writer. Every time those words enter my consciousness I feel the chains fall away. I don’t have to produce. I don’t have to publish. I don’t have to succeed. It is not who I am.
I am, in fact, a daughter of my Father in Heaven, the King of this universe who demands nothing of me but that I accept His forgiveness, return His love and let that love flow through me to others.

Yes, I believe He has given me the task of writing as a means to spread that love and a way to discover more and more about Him myself, but writing is what I do, not who I am. It’s all a matter of perspective. When my perspective is correct, I am free to be who I was meant to be and then to do what I was meant to do with joy and a sense of freedom. When my perspective is not correct, what I do becomes a chore – I worry about marketing and sales instead of praying for the hearts and minds of my readers; I fear not being able to produce the work I should (the blank page terrifies me); when someone points out a mistake in a published piece I feel humiliated; when my work is rejected I become depressed; when I don’t win a contest or award I become angry and cynical.

Yes, I admit, all of these things were happening to me. I knew these feelings were wrong, I struggled against them, but I couldn’t deny they were real. And all of it was beginning to crush my creativity. It became a struggle to produce. The joy was being bled away.

So, it may seem like a counter-productive thing to do, but I have decided to declare this statement to myself every morning when I sit down at my computer: I am not a writer. I am the daughter of my Father in Heaven. Nothing else matters. When those words have sunk deep into my soul, then, and only then, will I write.

So, will you join me?

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22,23).

TWEETABLES

I Am Not A Writer by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Every time those words enter my consciousness I feel the chains fall away~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

I don’t have to publish. I don’t have to succeed. It is not who I am~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia also has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded on Smashwords or on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format on Amazon.

Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving.

Visit Marcia’s Website
Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur