Skip to main content

publish me

I got my picture taken for the school paper yesterday so I guess that means they are going to publish the “Peace and Radicals” article I submitted (see the December 7 blog). It is a good feeling when something you have created turns out to be appreciated by someone other than yourself or your immediate circle of friends and family. As a writer (and photographer and musician and actor and artist at large), it is my job to create and explore beauty and truth and that gives me great joy. Sometimes, though, the pressure to be published or shown or get a paying gig or recognised in some way by the general public takes some of the pure passion out of my creativity. I had a very interesting conversation with a fellow writer this past summer in Mahone Bay.

We had both spent the better part of a year writing our first work of fiction and were entirely thrilled to find someone else who had gone through this intense creative process. We were both invigorated by the challenges of writing something of that length and totally investing ourselves in the story and its characters. But after a second look and some constructive criticism from trusted friends, each of us had discovered that while the process had been an incredible learning and growing opportunity as a writer, the book itself was not in any shape to be published. Neither of us regretted having done our projects, but at this point, we both wondered what to do with almost 100,000 words of toil, sweat, and tears on our computers. It is somewhat embarrassing when people keep asking you, "So, is your book done? When is it going to be published?" And the only true answer you can give is: "At this point, it is not good enough to be published and I am not sure if I should spend the better part of another year rewriting it or simply move on to the next project and chalk it up to experience." It sounds too much like failure.

As my friend and I walked along in silence and I pondered my questionable future as a thriving and self-supporting artist once again, a thought struck me. “Why does something have to be published to make it valid?“ I asked my friend. “That is a total unrealistic and unhealthy way of looking at things. Does every song have to be recorded to make it worth something, to make it meaningful? Does every piece of poetry have to be printed in order for someone to appreciate the beauty in the words? NO! That is just the way the world system makes us think - fame and reimbursement make things valid and that’s a lie.“ I asked my fellow writer why he had written his book and he said it was in honour of his friend. I asked him, “Is the story worth telling?“ He said, “Yes,” to which I replied, “Then it is worth reading, at least to me.“ I asked him to send me his book and I promised not to read it with a critical or editorial eye, but appreciate the story as a gift, a way of seeing something that only he could express. I got so excited about this new “validity” concept that I shared the idea with a few others and they immediately said they would also love to read something like that, just to appreciate the story.

Creativity is not owned by the publishing and recording and production companies who pretend to buy and sell it. It is found in the people who have let a spark ignite in their souls and added their hard work and ingenuity to it in order to make something unique and meaningful and beautiful and over time, increasingly more well-crafted. I believe I have many things to learn as a writer and artist, but I have ceased to make my goal that of being published. That is a dream far too small. I want to change the world by telling stories that no one else can, by presenting truth and beauty in interesting and unique, yet recognisable forms. I want to point my camera at things that no one else has thought to stop and look at. And I will tell my story and my vision and my dreams to those around me…one by one by one. This is worth my time. This is worth my effort. This is what a voice in the wilderness does.

“Prophets are those folk among us who dare to stop doing good. That is, they dare to be less busy, less consumed by the legitimate demands of the present day. Their peculiar asceticism is to stop the busyness, and in the stillness to listen. Only as the absorbing and distracting demands of the present are stilled will we hear the sounds of the future. This is a considerable risk. The good we are doing now not only fills our day but tells us who we are. In it we find our worth. Without it, who would we be? What if we quiet our hearts and then hear nothing? But the gift of the prophet is to seek silence, convinced that only then will we hear the subtle murmurs of God's Spirit. These sounds alone can tell us what time it is.”

James D. Whitehead and Evelyn Eaton Whitehead
The Gift of Prophecy, SPIRITUALITY TODAY
Winter 1989, Vol.41 No. 4, pp. 292-304.


Popular posts from this blog

what binds us together?

For the past few weeks, I have been reading a book by famed psychiatrist M. Scott Peck which chronicles his travels (together with his wife) through remote parts of the UK in search of prehistoric stones. The book is part travel journal, part spiritual musings, part psychology, and part personal anecdotes. A mixed bag, to be sure, and not always a winning combination. At one point, I considered putting the book aside, not finishing it, but then Peck started writing about community. He is no stranger to the concept. He has led hundreds of community-building workshops over the years, helped start a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering community, and written a compelling book about the topic, one which greatly impacted me when I read it oh so long ago.[1]

In preparation for a course I am teaching next year, I have been doing quite a bit of study on unity and community. Once you start thinking about it, you see and hear evidence of it everywhere. (See my blog on the impact of b…

job hunting

I am on the hunt for a job. PhD in hand, I am a theologian for hire. The thing is, not a lot of places are hiring theologians these days, and if they are, they are usually looking for scholars with skills and experience outside my area of expertise. Today I found job opportunities for those knowledgeable in Religion, Race, and Colonialism, Philosophy and History of Religion, Islam and Society, Languages of Late Antiquity, Religion, Ethics, and Politics, and an ad for a Molecular Genetic Pathologist. Not one posting for a Dramatic Theologian with  a side order of Spirituality and a dash of Methodology.

I know, I know. My expectations are a bit unrealistic if I believe I will find an exact match for my particular skills. I know that job descriptions are wish lists to some extent, so no candidate is ever a perfect match. I also realize that one must adapt one's skill set according to the requirements of the job and be flexible. But there are so few jobs which come within ten or even…

building the church

Imagine two scenarios: 1) Give every person in the room a popsicle stick. Ask them to come together and put their sticks onto a table. Invariably, you end up with a random pile of sticks on a table. 2) Give every person in the room a popsicle stick. Show a picture of a popsicle stick bird feeder and ask people to come together and put their sticks on a table according to the picture. You will end up with the beginnings of a bird feeder on a table.

What is the difference between the two scenarios? In both, each person brought what they had and contributed it to the collective. However, in the first scenario, there were no guidelines, no plan, and no right or wrong way to pile the sticks. People came, placed their sticks on the table, and walked away. In the second scenario, people were given a plan to follow and as a result, something specific was built. Instead of walking away after they made their contribution, people huddled around the table to watch what was being built. Some were…