I can now count by hours how much time I have left to finish the last writing assignment. Tick tock. I think I heard clocks ticking in my dreams last night. Even the digital ones went tick tock. I've avoided, procrastinated, excused and moaned. Some of you have been recipients of one or all of the above, and I humbly beg your forgiveness for it.
This behaviour baffles me, because while I am stellar at avoiding mundane details of life, I'm not typically one to put off school work. Something about this assignment has gotten under my skin; it makes me uncomfortable. It has provided insight to myself...and that is hardly ever completely pleasant. The difficulty I've been having with this last unit - the one I deliberately saved for last - took me by surprise. Of all the kinds of writing we've covered, I was sure that straightforward fiction would be the easiest. To quote Depeche Mode: Wrong! I've been wiggling like a worm on a hook, unable to find a decent plot idea, develop believable characters...even deciding whether it would be humorous or not has been difficult.
Two nights ago, around 9.30, I got a flash of an idea, and right away knew: This is good! It came from one line of Scripture (I don't remember what it was...I had the Bible with me, hoping for inspiration or at least a Divine kick in the posterior. God has nudged me to action in the past.) And so I began to write. For hours. Until 4.30 in the morning. 2,362 words later, I went to bed, knowing where the story was going, and realizing that the beginning was no good, but workable. Reading it again the next morning, I realized what I had bled into the keyboard the night before was clumsy and full of unnecessary filler. So I started over again, reworking the opening altogether, but still content with the general concept. I also did something I'd never done before - not even for essays and reports in school - I mocked up an outline, working out the progression of the plot, and working out precisely how it would end. All day yesterday, I managed to complete one and a half paragraphs...and today I am unhappy with them, because I have boxed myself into the scene. I have to scrap another day's work.
This morning, I have had another idea about how to handle point of view and arc. But I have only today to do the whole thing: first draft, editing, rewriting, editing, rewriting. It's going to take a miracle of inspiration, discipline, focus, industry... and perseverance.
I came across this quote today:
Though perseverance does not come from our power, yet it comes from within our power
~ St. Francis deSales
A subtle nuance in the words of dear old St. F deS. Perseverance is not ours (it comes from God) but it is up to us to apply it. Like all grace, actually. Charity (love), forgiveness, endurance, fidelity, holiness etc. are all attributes which require our effort. We must practice them - just like the piano - in order to become good at them.
I've leaned that writing is work. Boy, is it work. It is hard! Laborious. I've felt betrayed by that realization, because until now, writing has been something I do only because I enjoy it, and I have a certain facility for it. I've never had to persevere with writing when not flushed with inspiration. It's been rather humbling to face the fact that even I (!) have to slog through the effort of production when there is no inspiration to pave the way.
I have to guard against distraction (like the men working outside our window doing who knows what with the telephone cables, the cute-as-buttons-Peanuts, and the ever seductive internet), and discipline myself to persevere through the dry periods.
There are only hours left to complete this mamouth task. My dad was very disciplined (in certain areas of his life. Even he struggled with it in other ways), so I'm asking for his intercession today. I need help, Pop. I've got to get this done, and I want to do it well. Be beside me today, and guide me through this difficulty. But I know the effort is mine to make.
Whatever there may be in your life that offers a challenge of perseverance, I pray that you will be able to meet it and overcome it.