Suzanne is my sister. She's a published author with two published books to her credit (and a third on the way), and I'm proud of her. No matter what your discipline in life, this article gives inspiration and humor. I hope it will inspire you, as it has me. Did I mention work habits?
The Writing Life
My name is Suzanne Guthrie (no relation).
Just kidding. I'm her sister.
Pat asked me to contribute a post about “The Writing Life.” So...I'm intrigued. What's the through-line in a writing life? A different topic might yield a story. Tell me your love life, your family saga, spiritual journey, your work history, or traveling adventures.
But, writing life? Writing life: remember to get up from the desk to stretch. Writing life: Don't get distracted on the internet when you're fact-checking. Writing life: be reliable. Writing life: never submit anything without a critical friend editing it first.
No story there. Just work habits.
My work is deadline driven and specialized for a particular readership. I wouldn't even call it creative non-fiction. Unless you think spiritual writing is based purely upon what our mother called “unwarranted assumptions,” in which case, I guess you'd call my writing... um-mm, fantasy. Or meaningless.
I've preached on Sundays for thirty years. That's a writing life right there, I guess. (Think of Ames in Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, and the cartons of sermons in the attic.) But preaching depends upon performance. Writing for public delivery alters your rhythm, syntax, pacing, usage. [Note to family: don't publish my sermons after my death!] Most of my present readers are preachers desperate for prompts in the unrelenting search for an angle on their Sunday sermon. I fulfill a need, so I have a ready-made and eager readership. I'm grateful to them. I think of them in their distress. I burned out in the public life. But I still have something to offer. And so, by defalt, I have a writing life. But I get to work in comfortable clothes.
I've been writing since second grade. I'm just now going through fourteen bins of journals and letters, not wanting to leave them for my children to deal with and hate me for or be shocked by. An equal number of bins of unpublished material used for teaching, leading retreats and workshops needs to be sorted and marked for re-working or the bonfire. Ah! The sermons can light up the bonfire, too.
The Writing Life? Somewhere between birth and the bonfire, I hope some idea or insight caught flame in some stranger's heart. To pass on a little light may not be so meaningless after all.