“so what do you do?”
there are people who are able to put a nice boxed up title around what it is that they do. i am not one of them. and feeling a bit lost in my identity just plain goes with the territory, boxed up title or not. i know that my identity is in Christ and not in what i do, yet what i do is deeply connected to who i am.
here in this tiny little corner of the big wide web i write. there are other small things i do in my brick and mortar life, but my answer to the person who most recently asked this question were these two words;
“oh! what do you write?” she responded, genuinely interested in me and my mysterious life.
“uh….i don’t really know.”
i’ve questioned the time i spend blogging, we aren’t a family with large resources and it would not hurt for me to get a j.o.b. one will be heading off to college in the near future and the other two following close behind. who am i to think spending time on this writing is adding value to anyone? the voice of my college creative writing professor rings loud and clear-he said i had no talent. it was ok, i was in school to be an engineer anyway.
There is a lost art of studying the works of others to find your own style. All of the “masters” were first apprentices. The apprentice sat beside the “masters”, listening to their process, paintbrush in hand, mixing paint, creating strokes that told a story, and stirred their creative spirit.
my painting daughter has a large oil painting that was due last friday. the professor gave everyone an extension for monday. she painted all. weekend. long. yet only half of the stone church sits below the glowing sunset above it. she brought in what was done and her professor’s words stand in contrast to mine; “hannah, you are one of my most talented students. many painters spend a year on a painting like this, you can turn it in whenever it is finished.”
the point is, dear hannah, to keep painting. keep studying the masters and their process. grow and shift things around when needed. but by all means, don’t quit.
we don’t live in an apprentice culture anymore, but the concept has value to me when i let it. my perception of an apprentice is one who works long and hard hours without pay, status, or tangible outcomes. they are behind the scenes, unseen. they do the work because of a hope for what is not yet, but will be.
unseen. hope for what is not yet, but will be. apprenticing. the slow process of growing into a truer version of myself. this is what the writing life is for me. it’s still unseen and in process. it takes an immense amount of courage and patience to do the apprenticeship work, to believe that the One who knit me together has value to add to this world through words i compose. small work is challenging in it’s hidden-ness no matter what form that work takes i think. but there is One who entered the world He created through the smallest way possible-who arrived as an ordinary baby, in a tiny little corner of the big wide world.
He is the God who both sees and knows what it is to be unseen.
the point is, dear me, to keep writing. let it take years if it needs to. but by all means, don’t quit.
*Jeanne Oliver’s Creative Network is free to join, and the costs of the courses offered vary. even though my art does not involve paint, i’ve taken a couple of her courses and had the privilege of meeting her when my daughter took one of her classes. she is inspiring, delightful, and such a gift to the art world. i highly recommend visiting her site no matter what kind of artist you may be.)
i’ve found paying attention to other artists and their process to be extremely valuable. most recently i joined hope*writers, a community of fellow writers hosted by author’s that i trust:
A community of people who write about hope, who value encouragement and practical advice about writing as craft, business, and calling.
The community is called hope*writers. We believe we do our best work when we have good support. We want to help you skip the learning curve we’ve had to struggle through.
-the hope*writer’s team