Irritated by My Own Writing

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

Gustave Flaubert is quoted as saying: “I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears.”

I think most writers, and artists of all kinds, will relate to that sentiment. I know I do. I remember when I received the email from my publisher telling me that my first novel, One Smooth Stone, had gone to press. My first thought was, “No! Give it back! It’s not good enough yet!” My vision for that book was so much more than what it ended up being.Often I feel the same about the devotional writing I do. I sense something deeply but the expression of it seems lacking. It always seems to fall short and I fear that its impact will not be as effective as I had dreamed it would be.

I am so very thankful that the impact of my words is not just dependent upon my skill as a writer. I can depend on the Holy Spirit to do His work in the minds and hearts of those who read my writing. I can relax in the knowledge that His plan is perfect and His purposes will be accomplished through my work. I can rejoice in the understanding that it is God who changes lives, not my paltry efforts at eloquence.

I think most Christians will relate to Mr. Flaubert’s statement as well. None of us feels that we are good enough. We know our weaknesses, our tendency to fall into sin and to wander away from the One who wants to hold us close. Mr. Flaubert’s quote might well be transposed to read, “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41), or, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24),or, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do” (Romans 7:15).

As writers, artists and Christians we are constantly reminded that we are not yet living in the state in which we were meant to live. We glimpse what ought to be but cannot yet attain it. We wrestle with our demons and our angels. Sometimes we come away greatly strengthened. Sometimes we are limping. Yet every time we understand on a deeper level, that, in our weakness we are strong, because in our weakness we learn to depend solely on our Lord.

We might well cry out, with the apostle Paul, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24). But then, we might well rejoice with him when he answers that question: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).


One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there his is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?

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 short listed in The Word Awards. Marcia also has 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.