Here in Southern California, we’re experiencing a severe drought. The land is unquestionably dry, and at times, the air is sandy from loose, small particles kicked up by the winds. Destructive fire is more of a risk, now. We’re being asked to be "careful" about water usage. No mandatory rationing so far, but should this continue…
As far as I can tell, when a drought happens, there are basically two ways of quenching the proverbial thirst. One is rain from the sky, and the other is to divert existing water from elsewhere. Of course, this last brings up the question, "From whom do we take water? To what extent? For how long?" Obviously, without rain, there is not an unlimited source of water anywhere; to take it from somewhere depletes the precious resource there, too.
What does this talk of drought have to do with writing? Quite a lot, actually.
When you pour your heart and soul into a book and you’ve typed your final words, you might feel drought-stricken. Spent. Bone dry. I know that I once did, and, truthfully, the sense of drought lasted for years.
I’d just completed, "Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness," and seen it through to publication. What a joy to see it in print! Even more was the delight at the reactions of others, my fellow chronic illness and pain sufferers who read the book and embraced it.
But for all the positive things that came of publication, inside of me was deep, dragging weariness. I’d just gone from full bloom to stark winter…but I had other deadlines and other work to do, nonetheless.
At the time, I didn’t fully realize what was going on. I fulfilled my obligations and took on more. Happily, thankfully. But, still, the drought inside persisted.
Now, it wasn’t a spiritual drought by any means. My faith grew stronger during this time, and my commitment to carrying out God’s will for me never wavered. My soul sang and sang some more. But my writer’s "chops" were, well, muted.
Also, it wasn’t doubt or insecurity about being a writer with many more stories to tell. It’s so important, I’ve found, when you’re in drought to understand that you’re not in doubt, although in persistent drought, it can be easier to be persuaded.
A few weeks ago, here in Southern California, we had a monster of a storm that brought inches and inches of blessed water to the land and reservoirs. Trees are springing to life. The air is clearer. Hope is palpable, shining. For so long, we did without. Now, God has reinforced His presence and tells us, "You will not always go without."
In much the same way, my writer’s drought is ceding to fertile ground, a renewed energy and purpose. It’s taken so long! But the time between then and now, before and after, has not been ill-used. Praise God!
If you are in a writer’s drought now, keep praying. Keep being gentle with yourself and your storytelling gifts. Understand what is happening. Don’t stop writing, but rather, take tender care of the ground within you that is, for now, lying fallow and waiting for rain. When you pour your heart and soul into a book, look upon the aftermath as all part of the process – and as a blessing.
For, just as the land emerges from drought more abundantly blooming and strong, we, too, as we keep and cultivate our faith, will emerge stronger and with more stories to tell.
Yes, after a drought, the land will be fertile again. Perhaps different in look and feel. But, yes, fertile!
Blessings to you,