Passion is the stuff of romance and marriage, right? It’s also the heart of great creative endeavors. So what do you do once the passion jumps a train and head south?
I know it sounds like this could be the title to a bad movie. Or maybe another Bridges of Madison County story line.
But this is the tale of the life I’ve been living for the past five months. And I’m beginning to wonder if it has a happy ending. Or if the only way out is to quit being an author.
Notice I didn’t say quit writing. Although I don’t get much joy from it these days, I know I’ll always spill my innermost thoughts onto the page. That’s the way the good Lord made me to process things.
What is Passion?
Passion is not just for love, romance and sex scenes. If you’ve got a gift, passion should be part of your daily life.
In this case, I’m referring to dictionary.com‘s sixth definition of passion: a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.
In my case, the passion is for creating stories. Writing words into a string of compelling sentences that form paragraphs and chapters the evolve into a story.
If you follow my blog, you know I’ve been working on a series of biblical fictionalizations for the past year or more. These stories are finished and will be rolling out on Amazon and other major sites over the next few weeks.
I mistakenly thought I would be able to begin a new project. The final phases of rewriting and polishing the two new stories in the series sucked all the passion for writing from my heart, mind and soul.
Where did it Go?
Did the passion dissipate into thin air? Did it get captured within the pages of those books I struggled to finish?
I hope it didn’t vanish. I pray some spark infused the words of those books. Otherwise, all the slogging through hard days and making myself finish will have been for nothing.
I do think artists (and I rarely consider myself one) can complete works without passion. But I do think it shows through.
I pray that I prayed enough while hammering out those last edits, making those final rewrites and polishing those four hundred printed pages. Because my prayer was the God’s grace would shine through, not my passion for the subject. I prayed that God would receive glory for every jot and tittle on the pages.
Mostly because I didn’t have any passion left. But also because He called me to that project. He gave me the seeds for those stories.
I think the passion dried up. I did so much of the work in my own power, rather than relying on God’s strength, that I ran my creative well dry. I don’t think it’s God’s fault, either. He was hanging around at the edges of my furious activity, offering to partner with me, to grant me everything I needed for each day’s work.
Truthfully? Writing romance has become so easy that I don’t really rely on the grace of God for it.
But this wasn’t romance. And there was no writing these projects without God’s empowerment.
Can I Get it Back?
Some days – like the day I’m writing this – I want to say: “Nope.”
But that would be giving myself more power than the One who created, called and gifted me to create stories.
Instead, I’ll take a page out of the Apostle Paul’s manifesto. “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9b)
If you’re not familiar with the context of this quote, here it is. Paul had some affliction (much debate about what it was, but I’m inclined to believe it was his poor eyesight since they didn’t have the technology we do to improve such things) and Paul asked God to remove it. In fact, he asked the Lord three times to remove it.
Finally God said, “Paul, I’m not going to take that away because my grace is sufficient to help you overcome the limitations it causes” (2 Corinthians 12:9a – my rendering).
God’s grace got me through this hard project. God’s grace is sufficient to refill the well of my creativity.
But God works in His own time. There’s no rushing Him or putting deadlines to His plans. So, while I’m waiting for the rush of passion in my soul’s creative well, I’m doing being proactive, too.
I’m starting a book about writer’s burnout today, and I’ve chosen the word “Rest” for 2020 because I know I need to refill my well. But that doesn’t fulfill the contracts I already have.
I’ve pulled back from submitting a new proposal to my publisher because I honestly don’t know if I could write three books for her this year. But I have a novella in revisions. I wrote it in 2018 during National Novel Writing Month, and it’s got a few dozen holes. This means I need about six to eight new scenes to fill them, and I’ve been shying away from that.
Not because I don’t have ideas. But because the very idea of creating sucks all the energy from me. I know I’ll need to take it slow, write one scene per day.
I keep hoping the joy for writing will flood back to me. But so far? Nothing. When the passion is gone, it’s gone.
Have you ever lost your passion for something you knew was your calling? How did you get it back?