Delicate balances? Not my forte. On the contrary, I identify with Martin Luther’s metaphor: Drunk falls off the right side of the horse, staggers to his feet and tries to remount, only to overshoot the mark and topple off the horse’s left side. I mean, I know balance is important, but I’m not always clear on how to maintain it.
Take writing, for example.
When I start a book, I write for myself first. If I wrote for anyone else first, I wouldn’t come up with a single useable sentence. I’d be too busy trying to figure out what’s marketable and what isn’t. At that rate, I’d never type a word.
Writing is an inside job, anyway. The story takes shape somewhere within, and I have to write it out as faithfully as I can, regardless of who might or might not read it. It’s the book and me, mano y mano. I’m absorbed in it … or by it … not sure which. I’m grinding out sentences, sometimes word by word. I’m caught in the gears.
Plus, writing is solitary. Emotionally and intellectually dense. The process as I know it doesn’t leave much room for anyone else.
And yet ….
I don’t write just for me. Let’s be honest here. Who wants to write books nobody will read? There’s a greater purpose–has to be, right? The story’s genesis lies in an idea, a point, a message. If my words don’t speak truth, hope, or comfort into at least one other person’s life, why bother?
So how do I balance the inward focus with the gaze that goes beyond myself? I need a special grace to carry it off. Without grace, I take a header over the horse—either I lose touch with the reason I write, or I freeze up and don’t write at all.
It’s kind of like life, now that I think about it—every one of us trying to maintain that delicate balance between me and them. Maybe we all need grace.