In a tree just outside my living room window, a pair of blue jays is nesting. I watch them flitting about the branches of the sturdy cedar for a few days. They bring twigs and bits of string, even a shoelace, to tuck into a three-branched crook of the tree until a nest takes shape. They can’t see me on the other side of the glass but I have a birds-eye view of their homemaking. Eventually they take turns sitting on their eggs and soon I hope to see baby blue jays peeping over the edge of the nest.
I marvel at how God perfectly designed my blue jay neighbors to seek out a safe, hidden place to build a nest. Although it looks rickety, their nest withstands some strong winds and rains, so they chose well. They had the urge to create a nest, and so began with a single twig. Watching them reminds me of my writing process, especially the formative stage of a new project.
That moment ˗˗ that first “twig”, is what makes my heart sing as a writer ˗˗ the instant when my imagination is caught by a what if.
What if ˗˗ someone’s life is changed when they take up residence in an old church?
What if ˗˗ the daffodil farm where I used to walk is the setting where an old heart wound is healed?
What if ˗˗ my husband’s worn leather work glove is a picture of a life filled with the Holy Spirit?
What if ˗˗ God is asking me to write my own life story, even the painful parts, so others may learn about Him?
Without that initial moment of God-given inspiration, I could not put a single word on a page. Whether I am seeking a theme for an assigned writing project or just sending out my writer’s radar for new ideas, when the moment hits, I know it. I feel an almost physical jolt of energy, or the proverbial light bulb flashing on, when God gifts me with a new writing idea. I even have a name for such a phenomenon. A shining moment.
After decades of writing, I have developed my own writer’s eye, or way of looking at and experiencing aspects of life around me as a potential writing subject. How can I incorporate that little girl’s laugh I overhear into a playground scene? Is there a new way to describe the autumn foliage I enjoy every year? How does a prairie thunderstorm mirror turmoil in a character?
Since fresh inspiration is important to me as a writer, then I must actively look for those shining moments. I must “listen to the silence, stay open to the voice of the Spirit”, as Madeleine L’Engle wrote.1 That is my part of the process. God’s part is to touch the creative portion of my brain with new inspiration. When the two parts come together, my heart sings in anticipation of the creative process and my mind races ahead to how it will develop.
The work of writing is dependent on the original inspiration, the first “twig” placed in the tree to create a home out of words. Then begins the laborious process of building on the original idea. I propose that God sparks me with joy when He gifts me with new inspiration so that the energy from that initial spark will carry me through the hard work to completion. He makes my heart sing with creative passion, as only He can. I like to think I make His heart sing too, when I hatch original stories to offer the world.
“All of us who have given birth to a story know that it is ultimately mystery, closely knit to God’s own creative activities which did not stop at the beginning of the universe. God is constantly creating, in us, through us, with us, and to co-create with God is our human calling. It is the calling for all of us, His creatures, but it is perhaps more conscious with the Christian artist.” - Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
1Walking On Water, Madeleine L’Engle, Harold Shaw Pub. 1980
More of Valerie's work can be read on her blog.https://wordpress.scriptordeus.com/