Saturday, November 9, 2013

Confessions and Comfort

Yes, it's Saturday. I meant this post for yesterday, but my laptop is still out for the count. I'm using my mother's laptop, and she's getting her master's degree online from Liberty University. So, she's on pretty much... always. She's asleep right now.

As you might know from my previous couple posts, I'm participating in Nanowrimo. Or was, until 5k words were lost and I had to switch to using the laptop of a busy woman. But it's not just that, is it? I can't write very well.

Why not? One laptop is as good as another, right? That's the mindset of pretty much everyone around me. But I can't get the words out. At best, I've managed about 1,300 words a day. Closer to 1,000 words, or none at all. In Nano, your target word count per day is 1,667 words.

So, why can't I do it? Why won't the words come? Well, as you can tell from the title of this post, it has to do with my comfort spot.

Let me describe to you the very different rooms of my house in which I find myself:

  • My room is the size of a closet. In the corner, stuck between the door -- which actually hits the desk when opened far enough -- and a large, wooden dresser, is my desk. My bed, which takes up most of the room, is just far enough from the desk to make typing while sitting on it very difficult, so there's a small stool jammed between it and the desk, in order for me to not have to balance my laptop in my lap. Strewn across my desk are notebooks, embroidery thread, papers, and a couple of small bottles of paint.
  • My mother's workroom, which was my childhood room, has pink and yellow walls, with Winnie the Pooh stickers and crayon scribblings all over them. Probably your average-sized bedroom, and my mom has collected what looks like thousands of crochet magazines over her lifetime. They're everywhere. Her desk is stuck between a bookshelf of Mom's religious reference books and a side table. There's a fish bowl with one of those little beta fish* and a clean mug (also, coincidentally, Winnie the Pooh) that contains all of her pens and pencils, along with a couple of those green Barnes and Noble straws poking out of it. Oh, and let's not forget to mention the hundreds of crosses that now decorate the wall.

I realize that was a pretty solid chunk of description, so let's get down to the main point: the two rooms are as different as night and day. My small, messy room with the furniture looking too large, compared with Mom's very religious-looking room whose walls haven't changed much since I was five years old.

Of course, since Mom has her Master's classes and likes to have her laptop in the same room with all her reference books, I can't just pick it up and take it to my room. Which is a problem.

To put it bluntly, the hundreds of crosses staring at me make me uncomfortable. The many, many Bibles** do, as well. And the reference books, which all have names like How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart) and Martin Luther, the Bible, and the Jewish People (Schraam/Stjerna).

I told you -- A LOT of crosses.
It's not that I'm not religious. I am. Quite so. (Very hard not to be, especially when my former preschool doubles as my current baptist church.) It's just that... well, I'm too religious.

I know it's insane. Completely irrational. But during the summers of my childhood, I spent a week in the Pentecostal camp where my grandad lives. And they'd like to tell people that Harry Potter is evil, that fantasy is evil, because it worships magic and witchcraft or whatever.

And... even more beside the computer.
Which makes it kind of hard for me to write fantasy now, in front of an insane number of crosses. Even though I'm a Baptist and I believe that if God gave me the imagination, He probably wouldn't mind my fantasy. And anyways, evidence: C.S. Lewis and Tolkien were both Christian writers, who wrote fantasy, and their stuff is legendary. Pretty mainstream fiction, not the Christian fiction you find only in your typical Lifeway Christian store.

But I can't help feeling it. Feeling this irrational need to avoid fantasy, even though I love it, because when you put it that way...

I know God loves me. I know He wouldn't judge my fantasy writing -- sometimes I even get the hope that in Heaven, He has a giant library with every book in the world, and some of my books will be there, too. It's make-believe, imagination, a tool He gave humans for the purpose of imagining new worlds.

Perhaps, one day, I will write a book in which I suggest thematically that creating a real world, or at least one that feels real, should probably be left to God. Because right now, my world feels realer than the one around me, and I worry when I see those crosses. They remind me of the world around me, that my imagination is not everything here, and that, perhaps, magic needs to be subtler than spells and potions and spontaneous explosions, out here in the real world. I'm almost sad, at that. Like we've constrained something to a small box, to a subtle little area inside of our minds.

Perhaps this is why power goes to your head, when leaders create their own little world, their own society, when they rip down the old society and put up their own. 

This sort of commentary reels through my mind. I get antsy, can listen to music and swivel in the little swivel chair, and I can't write. Because it is truth unwrapped from its gauzy layer of fiction. And it doesn't make sense. Truth doesn't make sense. It makes feelings. And that's why it needs its little coating of fiction, because fiction does make sense, and it can keep the truth in its place.

I need my little comfort spot. I need the peace it brings, how it sets aside those antsy feelings and truth and lets my fingers stop shaking long enough to write.

And perhaps this all sounds a little out there, a little dreamy, like my mind's come untethered and I'm sending you images from the clouds. But I think a comfort spot is more than just comfort. It's a necessary break from the real world. The real world reminds me that there are people who think God wouldn't like my work. My comfort spot lets me know what I think in the matter.

I hope this makes sense to you.

Have a blessed day.

[EDIT: I hand-counted all of them. There are 113 crosses in my mother's workroom, give or take a couple. Still, a formidable number of crosses, wouldn't you agree?]

*Yea, his name is Jeffrey. After my Uncle Jeff, even though Uncle Jeff is from my Dad's side of the family.
**Let's put it this way: my aunts have seventy pairs of shoes and a Bible between them. My Mom has seventy Bibles and one pair of shoes.

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