“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others; read a lot and write a lot.” Stephen King
I suppose it was inevitable that taking this to heart would mean mounting a shelf on the wall above my nightstand for my ever-lengthening To Read stack. One book in particular, Andrew Peterson’s Adorning the Dark, sat in my Amazon cart for months, then patiently took its place amongst the other fresh, gleaming pieces of knowledge waiting to take root and bloom.
I finally read it over the last week. Oh my word. If ever there was encouragement to create, just like our Creator does, just like He made each one of us to, then this is it. It will look different for each of us, of course, because we were made differently. As distinct as the various parts of our bodies - every part necessary - yet functioning differently.
And fame does not validate that in the slightest. Our gifts are perfectly suited for the communities we find ourselves in. All fame does is puff us up into thinking our gifts are all about us. That somehow we were born with a superpower no one else has, when in reality, people with our level of talent/ability are born all over the world into their specific communities. All those beautiful things we see and hear? They were produced after daily practice. From waking every day with a joyful, persevering, giving attitude and work ethic.
And oh my, how difficult a task this is in our comfortable, technological, distraction-littered world! It’s why the realization that my life may very well be only, say, 42 years vs. the 85 years I always assumed, keeps me working at and finishing all my songs, stories, and ideas I’ve let languish while I browse the Internet or Netflix or the snack aisle at the grocery store.
Stories impact us like nothing else. A book is never just a book. In a lot of ways, a new book is like a new baby. The exciting newness, the anticipation of discovery, of a richness of life that wasn’t there before. Once the book has been cracked, it consumes us. We’re engrossed. Exactly the kind of attention a small child demands. And every year, a child’s presence grows larger, denser, fuller, like a tree taking root and blooming, eventually providing shade and shelter for other creatures.
The end of a good, life-changing book feels like that. Adorning the Dark is one I will tuck tenderly into my forest of other books that have lovingly called for an almost immediate re-read. Ones I’ve nodded to, underlined, and have made a noticeable change in my day to day life. The same kind of weighty, rich change becoming a parent made to my whole person.
“Writing can give you what having a baby can give you: it can get you to start paying attention, can help you soften, can wake you up.” Anne Lamott
In my experience, books and babies are some of the best wake up calls.