Saturday, December 10, 2005

Self-absorbed pondering on writing

Tonight the daughter and I went to a free concert sponsored by our new church. Last month was the first in a program the church is hoping to develop into a regular monthly event. Last time, the two bands were both local, secular groups who just blew me away. This time, the first group, a duo, played original music best described as contemporary folk -- poetic, meaningful lyrics in singable tunes. I really enjoyed them and during the set break got a chance to talk briefly with the lyricist and lead singer. His partner was also his father. The second group was contemporary Christian. They poured their emotions into their songs, but I can only say the effect was bland. A large part of the audience obviously disagreed with me.

This is the problem I have with a lot of contemporary Christian music and writing. It's just mundane. It falls too easily in the trap of using the same set of words and images over and over. This is something I fear in my own writing. I never intended for spirituality to become one of my primary topics, but I couldn't seem to escape it. Other than making myself sit down and write, I don't feel like I have a whole lot of control over the process. I never start with more than a hint of an idea, a single image, or a general thematic concept. Other than academic assignments I've never planned what my writing would include. I just let it lead the way and see where it (and I) end up.

Over the past few years, where I ended up so, so often was on the road I'm taking to know God/dess more and live in harmony with what I'm learning. Frankly, this really scared me because it's so easy to do this badly, both live it and write about it. How do you describe the ultimately indefinable? I know that I over use certain words like joy, wisdom, peace, and path, regardless of how many times I check my thesaurus. I know that the tone of my spiritually themed essays and journal entries lacks variety as well. In my harsher moments of self critique, the word insipid often springs to mind.

I also know that no matter how hard I try to avoid writing on this theme, I can't. It's too large a part of me and too insistent on pushing its way into my writing. This creates a challenge. If I have to write about this, I want to do it well and in a way that can speak to anyone. I believe that the Creator is too great to be confined to any one set of religious beliefs, and I would like to be able to express what I have come to believe in a way that makes sense outside the confines of traditional Christian expression and still remains true and clear within them.

I also don't want to limit myself to just writing about spirituality. This may end up being the bigger challenge. In my life now, spirituality infuses everything. Moments of mute prayer, sharing brownies and coffee with friends, earthy jokes over a margarita and moan inducing sex are all spiritual activities. This aspect of my life isn't something that just gets dressed up in proper Sunday go-to-meeting finery, and my writing shouldn't portray it that way. It's also not my only interest, and I don't want to pigeonhole myself.

I see some of the challenges ahead of me. I hope this can help me avoid the mistakes I (sorta) fear.


Blogger ChasingMoksha said...

Sit down determined to write about spirituality and see what other course you go on. If you stay on the same course, so be it.

I used to hear a commerical advertising a Christian CD that always perked up my ears. It was very good, or at least I thought each time I heard it. I think it was part of the Time/Life series. Now I will never hear it again.

December 10, 2005 3:40 AM  
Blogger Gabreael said...

I think adding a little of this, and a little of that allows your entire personality to shine through.


December 10, 2005 10:00 AM  
Blogger Gannet Girl said...

Well as long as you don' t suddenly start singing Praise Jesus Praise Jesus with a relentless bass and a pounding monotony, I think you'll be fine and we'll keep reading.

December 10, 2005 5:07 PM  
Blogger Virginia said...

By simply knowing, " In my life now, spirituality infuses everything. " you will never be pigeon-holed. You will always be well rounded and complete.


December 10, 2005 7:39 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Did you know that the "Go ye therefore" of the great commission in its orginal tongue supposedly conveys the meaning "as you go". It implies in the escense of everyday life, whatever that life may be to you. So it seems to me that you are merely "walking in the Spirit."

That said, I'm a Christian, tradional, yet even I sometimes want to scream when I get around folks that can't hold a conversation about anything without bringing God into it or framing it in religious overtones. So I can understand your concern.

December 11, 2005 1:54 AM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

Your view of sprituality is very unique. I doubt if either traditional Christians or those involved in "alternative" spritiuality would give you the nod. That said, when you write about your spirituality, you get into a zone where it's obvious that it's what you care about, and therefore, your writing goes to a different level. Sort of like what my political rants do for me. They are not ALL I write, and I like to think there are other aspects of my writing that are good and worthy. But I also know when I am at my best...

December 11, 2005 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's very difficult to write about abstract subjects (i.e. spirituality) without the writing itself becoming abstract or falling into cliches and platitudes. Give a class an abstract subject to write about and nineteen of them will come out with incredibly similar--and poor--responses. That's why when you requested writing topics I gave you something VERY specific (the cowboy with the missing tooth). Twenty students could write about said cowboy and come out with twenty completely different stories. The idea is not to write about spirtuality (or whatever) conciously, but just to write, and let your own approach to whatever the subject is dictate the mood. Writing that is purposely didactic is usually terrible. But writing about a character who is fully realized and in a situation where he/she can change--or not--given the situation he/she is in, well, there you got yourself a goldmine.
Creative Writing 101 in 50 words or less is difficult--but does this make sense? Hope it helps, C!

December 11, 2005 5:07 PM  
Blogger V said...

And, it comes shining through.

December 12, 2005 3:20 AM  

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