What Do You Do After the Storm?
by Jan Powell
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2, ESV).
In 2017, devastating hurricanes hit the Caribbean islands and the border states of the Gulf and Atlantic. Some places received two horrific blows. Houston suffered an extended onslaught. Nate chased Marie and struck again.
Though she spared us severe destruction, Irma chastened Tampa Bay. Loss of power, downed trees or limbs, and shortages at the stores affected everyone.
Our writing lives include storms. We experience lost inspiration under the deluge of rewriting, rejection, or when our carefully crafted story gets blown out of consideration for publication. Interior damage threatens when we can’t figure out how to rebuild an article or book, or when after faithfully posting our best blogs, followers languish in double digits. We all remember our writing hurricanes.
The morning after Irma, feisty winds still taunted us. Branches and leaves cluttered my yard and roof, so I decided to use the lingering blasts. A friend steadied my ladder and I climbed to the roof with a rake. Every few minutes I braced myself, feet far apart to resist the wind’s assault, and then resumed clearing the debris. Soon, most of the rubble had been shoved over the edge. Within an hour the wind finished the task, blowing the remaining leaves to the ground. With the larger pieces gone, the storm’s final bluster swept away the mess it caused.
We can find ways to recover from our writing storms. After a tempest, we can survey our work from the high place of prayer and evaluation, and work to remove redundant places. I recommend the Bible, praise music, and encouragement from a friend. We can delete superfluous words; under close inspection, not all my compositions sound brilliant. I’ve learned not to be clingy, but to make broad sweeps to clear excess and infuse clarity and order.
When gusts of discouragement buffet, I lean into them, standing on the Lord’s calling to write. Reinforced by the Word, I sing in my heart, remembering words of encouragement, resisting silent attacks, and plodding on. Opposing winds can work as interludes to root our writing commitment.
Finally, we can watch the Lord employ a storm’s tailwind to help us, as His Spirit stirs us to release clutter. We don’t give up, but press on, because the Lord is with us.
So, let’s get off the roof and write.
Lord of transforming storms, bring me through the winds to better words. Amen.
Jan Powell, a graduate of the University of South Florida has two small businesses. As a writer, she has worked with thirty people on forty book projects through Writing with You. Jan edits, coaches, and ghostwrites for fiction and non-fiction. She has been published in The Wordsmith Journal, Splickety, and regularly contributes to Inkspirations.