Samuel Johnson once noted that “to be happy at home was the result of all ambition.” I think he spoke of a writer’s harvest.
Another word for harvest is “yield” and it seems to me that sometimes, in order to have a harvest, we do have to yield, to let another go ahead of us, to step aside while another merges into life before us. We haven’t lost our goal or our plan to move ahead; we’re just yielding for a time. This happens in the lives of characters I write about, one story rises over another or falls back for a time
This blend of yield and harvest describes my writing life of late. I yield to the needs of my family and their health and mine as well and try not to feel guilty that I haven’t sat to write for several days now. I yield computer time to helping Jerry. Except for these contributions to the blog, I haven’t written much at all this month except letters and brief emails; I've finished edits for a novella and written blog posts for Writing Historical Novels. I’ve been reading instead - reading new writers, reading to research the time period of the book I’m “writing” (read “thinking about”), the one I’ll begin putting on to paper next month. I've agreed to read colleague’s works with an eye to endorsement. I consider that part of my writing life even though I’m not actually “writing.” But I’m home, stepping back into my space sitting like a frog on a lily pad surrounded by books and notes and timelines and photographs and letting my imagination roll me into another place and time – when the time is right.
For me, there is always a level of guilt about writing. If I write all day long and enjoy it, then I feel guilty for neglecting my family, the dogs, cooking meals. If I don’t write all day long, I feel guilty for neglecting a gift, a ministry, my passion for storytelling, for pushing aside the lives of these characters, perhaps not listening to what God wants me to do.
My only hope is that this kind of guilt can be addressed by confession AND by making a personal change.
So I’ll yield this month, pray, set sleep aside and start rising early to write so I won’t feel guilty of neglect of either family or passion. As the sun rises, I’ll have devoted some hours to what I love and believe I’m called to do and can then spend the rest of the day on the harvests that make me “happy at home.” It seems to be my rhythm of harvests and yields.
What does your season of yielding look like?