It’s Thursday, which is known as Sermon Cave Day around here. Kathrynzj and I meet up in the early afternoon and go somewhere to write. For the past four months, we’ve both been working on sermons. Before that I was writing and revising material I wrote during my sabbatical time, sitting here in our loft or at my remote office.
Now I’ve got nothing.
The truth is, I took a rejection earlier this year very hard. I was just finding direction for a project I hoped to develop into something other people would want to read, and when a piece of it got an unqualified rejection, I didn’t bounce back from it. It didn’t help that this rejection came from a Famous Institute That Gives Workshops for Clergy Writers, and that many people I know went this year. I am happy for them, delighted, in fact; please don’t take this any other way. But I was admittedly discouraged. What did I do wrong? I chose a piece I had been working on for some time. I put other people’s eyes on it and took their feedback seriously. I revised the piece. It was an inventive (I thought) examination of something personal, theological and cultural. It was ruthlessly honest.
Thank you to the few people who knew and were encouraging nonetheless. I appreciate your efforts.
Even more charmingly, this disappointment came just after I declared myself to be a writer and resulted in limiting my writing almost entirely to things I had to do for my then new job as a Sabbatical Pastor.
Some writer. So embarrassing.
But there it sits on Facebook, for the whole world to see: “Writer at Reflectionary.”
After a summer of writing sermons and liturgy, but not much else, I really don’t know how to start again. My other role, as Director of RevGalBlogPals, is full of detail-oriented tasks right now, to do with the new website and its enormous blogroll and its wonderful community of contributors who need to get signed in to actually use it, in addition to exciting longer term planning about expanding the reach of RevGals’ ministry with more in-person events. It is a currently unpaid, theoretically part-time, call that could end up taking all my time if I let it.
I miss writing, but I am not writing.
I am not blogging.
I am not scribbling in my journal except in response to the Bible or other people’s writing or prayers.
I *am* writing prayers, for myself and for others. That’s something.
But I’m not feeling the way writing used to make me feel. Just as it is solved by writing (Solvitur Ambulando), it is solved for me by writing. Writing always gets me somewhere. Perhaps this is why so many things feel unsolved right now. And while Sunday’s sermon was probably not the last sermon I will ever write, it’s the last one for a long span, and I can’t use “saving it up for the sermon” as a reason not to express my thoughts in writing anymore.
I admit, abashedly, that despite the advice and counsel I could give to others, I stood in the kitchen this morning and had to listen to words I know very well are true, coming toward me from my spouse. “If you want to be a writer, you need to have a thicker skin.”
The last time I read the material I wrote during my sabbatical, I decided it was all terrible, horrible, no good and very bad. I admit I was thin-skinned at the time. I also admit I concluded I wasn’t ruthless enough to write about my life when other people might be hurt by it.
Maybe it’s time to take another look at all those pages. Maybe there is some other way to employ the stories and feelings and memories I explored.
Maybe it’s time to start writing again, whether anyone else likes it or not.