'Be bold. Be inspired. Be yourself.'
That's pretty inspiring from a sofa shop. Being bold, inspired and yourself are pretty good words when trying to uplift the discouraged writer. There are days when I just look at my laptop screen, then at my coffee, then at the screen, then at my half cup of coffee, then out the window, then at the bottom of the cup, then at the screen, then off to the kettle... and it repeats. Don't we all get days like that? We are not bold but timid; not inspired but empty of ideas; not ourselves but struggling with ugly comparison to others.
A friend of mine posted a picture onto my Facebook timeline with these words:
'Boldly follow God on the less-travelled road He wants you to go on.'
Now that's a quote - a hard-hitting, reality-checking, truth-filling quote. It smacked me right between the eyes. Write between the eyes. Bold.
I find myself wanting to hide in the little room where I write a lot at the moment. Literally hide. Shut myself away. There is nothing bold about that. Yes, I am sure I would be somewhat productive if I did lock myself away at the computer, minus the social media distractions. Truthfully though, I want to escape from the noisy world which demands so much from me.
What I'm Struggling With... and the Grace That Follows
It's no secret that the majority of writers don't earn a lot of money. That doesn't usually bother me. I write because I love to write. But in my world I face my young professional friends who are earning a steady income with an opportunity for further professional development, bonuses and career progression. Most days it can feel like I'm where I've always been - behind the screen, not moving, not progressing. There are days when I think 'it's not safe or secure - get a proper job'. Fear tries to creep in. Then I am gently reminded by God that my security and safety are in Him alone - He is my refuge and strength.
Other people I know are in the process of buying their first home or enjoying the rewards of paying off their mortgage and looking forward to retirement. It's a constant bombardment of conversation between the pros and cons of renting and buying and having that place on the metaphorical property ladder (I've never seen any ladder). Once again I am reminded by God that He is the Provider and the Giver. Whether I rent or buy, my first concern is 'not my will but yours God'. Everything else is secondary to that.
What about that persistent nagging in my heart that I am doing what God enabled me to do? I am a writer. What if people can't accept that this is the less-travelled road that I have been asked to walk? If I am still trying to please others, then I am not a servant to Christ (Galatians 1:10). This is a hard lesson for me because I am a people pleaser, and a part of me does care what others think. However, I have to remind myself that I am writing for an audience of One. God's approval matters. He loves me and my creative heart! God will equip me for the task and He keeps presenting me with opportunities to follow Him in this creative endeavor. Writing this post on the ACW blog is a testimony to that. I can say with all confidence that this is something I am doing with God's guidance, love and purpose.
Finally, I'm a geography with international relations graduate who currently works in the hospital part-time and types away in every spare moment. I know I don't have to justify myself, but I often get greeted with an uncomfortable silence when people try and understand why I'm not in a graduate job. I have been asked about the money I make through writing articles (see above about writing and money for an idea of how that goes...). Some say that I am intelligent so why don't I aim higher. Others have laughed at me because I am not doing a career directly related to my degree. It might not be the usual path for a twenty-something graduate, but since when did God want me to conform and fit the mold of this world?
'Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect.' Romans 12:2
Maybe I worry and overthink too much about what people make of me. Good to know my humanity is still working properly. Reflecting on my struggles as a writer has opened my eyes to the grace that God has and continues to pour into my life. He gently reminds me that I am His, and everything I do should be an offering of praise and thanksgiving to the Creator who created me to create!
I am a pilgrim writer walking along the road less-travelled in pursuit of Jesus Christ and making Him known. On the days that I want to hide from the world, I am met with the love of God who once again tells me to pick up my pen and my cross and follow Him.
Ruth Clemence is a writer and blogger living in South West England. She has written for The War Cry, The Baptist Times, threads and The Herald newspaper in Plymouth. A graduate in Geography with International Relations, she has swapped a map and compass for a pen and notebook to pursue that writer life. When she is not writing, she is either working at the hospital, being sociable somewhere or reading a good book (not necessarily in that order).
Ruth's Blog: www.ruthclemence.com
Ruth's Twitter: @ruth_the_writer
Ruth's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ruthmclemence/