Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Watching Someone Read

I was on my way to Winnipeg to participate in the School of Writing at the Canadian Mennonite University. I was nervous about going, even though my work had been accepted and I'd been granted entrance to the advanced fiction class with Canadian literary icon, Rudy Wiebe. I had submitted three short stories that I'd worked on long and hard but I had chosen to workshop another ten pages - part of the sequel to my novel, One Smooth Stone. Would they like it? Would the writing be good enough?

As I settled into my seat on the plane, the stewardess came down the aisle and asked us all to move forward, to balance the load. i ended up sitting one seat back and across the aisle from a young woman who took out a book to read. As she did so, the colour caught my eye. Hmm ... same colour as the cover on my book.

I watched out the window as the ground dropped away and the plane lifted off, then glanced across the aisle again. The young woman had turned the book. My book. It was a surreal moment. A comforting, though in a way, disconcerting moment. What did she think of it? She seemed to be reading eagerly enough. But did she like it? Was it good enough?

The day my excerpts were to be critiqued, my palms were sweating and my heart was beating a little faster than normal. Finally the comments began. According to the rules I wasn't allowed to speak until given permission by the instructor. Staying silent was at once a relief and a hardship. Then Rudy made some comments, asking for further input from the class, dissecting the work.

Then his words, "this is good writing."

Words from "the master." I could have danced down the aisle.

But now the euphoria has worn off and I'm working on the sequel. What will people think of it? Will it be good enough?

And then I go back to why I write - because it's the way I'm "wired." Because I can't not write. Because the images and characters and scenes and emotions flood out of me through a keyboard and I can't stop them any more than I could stand in a flood and stop the raging waters.

And then I remember who made me this way, who controls what happens to the words I type on this computer, and who will some day say, "well done," if I work in obedience to Him.

And I realize how much I want to hear that Master's voice and how much I want to some day dance down that aisle. So I go on, trying to be obedient to the task of being a writer, fighting off the self doubt and the need for affirmation from men when the only thing that counts is affirmation from Him.

1 comment:

LC said...

Oh, but you didn't tell us what happened with the reader... Did you talk to her? If not, that would take some self-control... but then what would you say? "That book you are reading... I'm the author." Sounds like that commercial where the guy claims to have written the music on his stereo and painted the masterpiece on his wall.

What a moment for you though, actually both of them. And how true - it is God who uses it. You have done what you could, now He will do what only He can!