The thrills and travails of a writer – and relief from the holy inspiration


Three weeks I struggled over composing a two-page synopsis of my 140-page book manuscript.  That wasn’t easy at all.  I must have edited the piece over 15 times. Whenever a new version came up, it didn’t seem good enough.  Time for hair pulling, but I thought I’d try again. I’m too close to the story that pinching it to less than 800 words (required limit) and produce a gripping summary was horrendous.  Impossible, I thought.

I’m sharing this experience to admit that writing can be both a thrill and a discouragement.  Venting, you might say.  Yes.  I was close to 75% giving up. When words are hard to come by, and ideas don’t gel, composing a written piece is like mountain climbing for one who doesn’t climb heights.  But I didn’t stop trying.  I learned to climb, searched for more helpful tools, spent considerable time just thinking and thinking, edited and edited, wrote and read the lines loud over and over again.

Hmmm … but I wasn’t yet content – not good enough.

Flowers from W. Jean Crescini Camba and Mike Jensen (searched for the writing muse in these lovely flowers)

I tried to find inspiration from just about anything.  Occasionally, I would rise and leave my laptop to walk to the window to gaze at the mass of flowers on marigold bushes on the other side of the street across my patio.  Or, listen to old music hits from Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole or Andy Williams.  I switched to the classic station and sought motivation from the music of Chopin, Schubert or Tchaikovsky.  I took out my plump cherries from the refrigerator to feast my eyes on them without really eating any of the fruit.  I stared at the lush yellow flowers on my table given by couple-friends. I even napped longer hoping that words and sentences would float into my dreams.

Nothing.  At that point, I was feeling desperate.  So I got my remaining half-empty Pepsi bottle from my fridge, took some saltine crackers, dipped them in salmon cream cheese and snacked. More soda and crackers, and then a piece of dark chocolate, and then more chocolate.  And back to my writing.

Nothing.  What started as a thrilling venture turned into a barren dessert, no greens, no oasis, just miles and miles of dry sand.  Best to sleep over it. But before sleep, I remembered to pray, as I often do.  Only this time, I prayed specifically for the Holy Spirit’s inspiration for my writing.

Next morning, I woke up fresh and raring to go back to writing.  I felt urged.  My mind was filled with ideas.  After rushing with late breakfast, I cramped the ideas on the screen before they disappeared.  They kept pouring. Amazing! Together, they gelled.  They made sense.  And more, they were effective and they flowed well. Thanks to the Holy Spirit!  Voila!  The synopsis morphed into a much better shape.  I read it loud; it sounded good.  The plot elements synchronized systematically, and the plot ending effectively clinched the inciting moment of the story.

I’m happy with it.  Now, I just wish and pray for the best – that this would fly with the professional reviewers.

Huge thank you to my inspiration – the Holy Spirit.  Try asking the Holy Spirit when you’re at a loss for words – or for anything.  You’d be surprised – or maybe, you won’t.

Linda P. Jacob