Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Writing by the Seat of My Pants


The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair,
wrote Mary Heaton Vorse. Dorothy Parker once quipped,
I hate writing, I love having written.
They are both writers, of course. Published writers who got their witticisms written down for people like me to quote in posts like this. I get the first statement. I don't do it often enough, but I get it. I can't totally relate to the second quote. I enjoy writing when there's something coming out of me. I enjoy organizing my thoughts and seeing where the ideas lead. It's like walking along a path I haven't walked before. I don't know what's around the next corner and I know I won't find out unless I start walking (the process, applying the seat and writing something down). I enjoy sermon and article writing. I'm enjoying writing this.

However, writing something more substantial is on my retirement bucket list. I have three or four such possible "projects" hanging over me at the moment. "Having written" only a very few thousand words in a couple of them, I am a long, long way from "having written" any of them. They all seem absolutely huge and complex and beyond me. I don't know what possessed me to think I was capable of writing anything beyond an email message, sermon, blog post or an essay. And the irritating thing is that it's all my own fault. Nobody forced me to take them on.

It doesn't help having friends like Fred Stenson who has actually written and had published several novels. I've read them all AND his short stores and posted about his two latest novels here. Wonderful, complex, multi-layered, engaging stories that have beginnings, middles and endings; not to mention actual pages, covers and flyleaf's. And then there's Glen Dueck here in Medicine Hat who has just published his first novel, Joanna. It's the story of the one of the women who provided for Jesus and was mentioned a couple of times in Luke's gospel (8.3 & 24.10). I am in awe of the kind of commitment and application required to get that work done while pastoring a church for a day job.

Now I am retired I have to face up to the fact that I can no longer use work as an excuse for the lack of pants seat application to the chair and the Macbook to the lap. In the meantime, those projects, which I never should have mentioned out loud, loom and taunt. Sigh. This post is probably nothing but a ploy by my endlessly devious and panicked inner aspiring writer to avoid writing something—anything—down for one of the projects in that bucket. Double sigh.

This Lent, perhaps, the time has come for me fast from unapplied pants seats.