Writing Retreat, Part 3: Writing as an Act of Faith

As I said in my last two posts, I recently went on a writing retreat to work on my current science fiction novel, The Reefs of Time. There was an interesting faith component to this retreat. While the act of writing is almost by definition a leap of faith (Will this book I’m spending years writing actually turn into something good?) there was a little more to it this time. As part of my church’s annual Leap of Faith experiment during Lent, I have been praying for a creative breakthrough, and also in particular that my writing wouldn’t just sell, but would touch readers in meaningful and uplifting ways. I mean, really, if it doesn’t do that, is it worth all the work and mental anguish? (Yes, aspiring writers, sometimes it definitely feels like anguish.)

Fire-logWell, on my first night I settled into a comfortable chair with my laptop, in front of a crackling fire (I had a really nice room at this B&B), to begin writing new material. Not moving stuff around, not taking notes, but doing the hard thing: new stuff. No sooner was I settled in than an email chirped in on my laptop. Really, I should have been ignoring emails at that point, but I caught out of the corner of my eye, in the little notification window, something about The Infinity Link. Now, The Infinity Link was one of my early novels, not much noticed nowadays, but in my writing career it was a breakthrough novel in many ways. (Not the least of the ways was that it started small, grew large, and took me bloody forever to write—not unlike the book I’m writing now.)

So I read the email. It was from a reader new to my work. He’d found The Infinity Link in a used bookstore a while back, and read it. He’d just read it again, this time via the Audible audiobook. And he was writing to tell me how profoundly the story and some of its images had touched him—and he just wanted to let me know, and to thank me for writing the book!

Before answering the email, I sat there for a few moments, dumbfounded. I don’t know how you would take it, but that sure felt like an answer to prayer to me.

The writing came easier for the rest of that night.

(Adapted from Jeffrey A. Carver’s blog, Pushing a Snake Up a Hill.)

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Writing Retreat, Part 3: Writing as an Act of Faith — 2 Comments

  1. There’s a fantasy joke writers slide into their work all the time:

    “Prayer is always answered.

    Sometimes the answer is No.”

    Sometimes the answer is Not Yet. But sometimes? The answer is Yes.

    Congrats!