The pain we writers go through for our writing…

My daughter had her first dance class the other day. Bunch of three- and four-year-olds doing tap and ballet and tumbling in a wonderfully old and rickety studio. It was a sight.

I was sitting by the door to the dance floor, as there were more parents than seats in the lobby. When class ended, those kids hurtled for the door. And when the door opened, it slammed right into my kneecap.

And in the midst of stumbling through the chaos to the nearest trash can, I thought, “Well, now I know how it feels to hurt so bad you throw up. That’ll come in handy when I’m writing this scene in my WIP.”

Thankfully, I held it together and managed to not vomit in the middle of everybody. But it was a close thing. And once I had limped out to the car to let my knee throb in peace, I had to laugh at myself. Who thinks of their fictional characters when their knee feels like it’s been shattered in a million pieces?

But it’s those moments that make me feel good about being an author. And it reminds me of this story about the son of renowned scientist Henry Eyring working on a difficult physics problem:

“My father was at a blackboard we kept in the basement. Suddenly he stopped. ‘Hal,’ he said, ‘we were working this same kind of problem a week ago. You don’t seem to understand it any better now than you did then. Haven’t you been working on it?’”

A little chagrined, Hal admitted he had not. “You don’t understand,” his father went on. “When you walk down the street, when you’re in the shower, when you don’t have to be thinking about anything else, isn’t this what you think about?”

“When I told him no,” [Hal] concludes, “my father paused. It was really a very tender and poignant moment, because I knew how much he loved me and how much he wanted me to be a scientist. Then he said, ‘Hal, I think you’d better get out of physics. You ought to find something that you love so much that when you don’t have to think about anything, that’s what you think about.’”

I love this story, first because this dear man seriously and honestly asks, “Don’t you think about physics in the shower?” But mostly because of that final line: “You ought to find something that you love so much that when you don’t have to think about anything, that’s what you think about.”

I feel truly blessed to have had this passion and love for books and writing since I was a small girl. Even though it can be draining and frustrating and terrifying, it brings me so much joy and satisfaction. This is what I think about whenever I have a free moment.

I sincerely hope each and every one of you has something in your life that you love that much. If you do, feed it, grow it, let it flourish. If you don’t, go out and find it. It will make your life that much more complete.

So what do you think about when you don’t have to think about anything?

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9 thoughts on “The pain we writers go through for our writing…

  1. What I think about when I don’t have to think about anything is writing, too. And just in general, being creative ^_^. I’d love to get a cabin out in the woods someday and just do whatever I want in there. Idyllic, but, hey. I can dream.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post! I hope your knee is feeling better ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks 🙂 Ice and elevation did wonders for my knee. I would so love to have a cabin in the woods! Go all Thoreau and escape the world for a while. Have you ever been to a writing retreat? I went to one in a forest a couple years ago and it was amazing. Three days of nothing but trees and writing.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I got my knee injured once, too! Ice and elevation are god sends.

        I was a part of the Fir Acres Writing Workshop in Oregon when I was in high school, and I LOVED all the green there. I’d love to do something like that again sometime. 🙂

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  2. Nathan Bates

    I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have anything to think about. Lately, when I’ve had a moment’s peace, I think about my family, about holiness, and about words (mostly German ones).

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  3. Oh, your poor knee! You really threw up? I’m so sorry. I hope you’re completely healed now.
    Thank you for this story about Henry Eyring and his son. It felt a little like an answer to prayer. I think about writing and stories as my mental screensaver and the other night I was praying and asking if that was ok- or was there something else I should try to have be my screensaver? It was neat to find out other people have their own loves that they think about, too. (Never would have guessed physics- ha!) It’s hard sometimes to be balanced and not get too consumed by stories inside my head. It’s nice to have permission to indulge sometimes, though. 🙂
    Love your new blog and name! And I hope you make it to that retreat in the forest again this year! Miss you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m definitely going to the retreat this year–did you see who the keynote speaker is?! I’m so excited!

      I’ve felt the same way lately, wondering if there’s something more important I should be spending my time on, but I’ve concluded that books and stories have made up an enormous part of my life, and writing is my way of giving back, passing that love of reading on to another generation. It is a challenge to keep it balanced with everything else going on, though.

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      1. Yay!! I did see the keynote speaker, but wasn’t familiar with her work. But you like her? That’s wonderful!

        That’s a beautiful way to think about it- giving back to the next generation. I’m so glad you’re able to do that. I love your books and blog!

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