Recently, I’ve realized a lot of my own personal theological work had gone by the wayside. I had spent, and continue to spend, a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how to talk about my religion. Sometimes I get so busy talking about my faith, that I forget how to actually practice it. I suspect I’m not alone in this, as either a writer or someone interested in the devotional aspects of their faith, as missing the forest for the trees is about as central to the human experience as breathing.
This is not some disclaimer that precedes how I’m going to write less, so that I can focus on my praxis. Even with a squirming, squeaking baby daughter and a jumping, tumbling six year old. Even while me and my wife try and figure out where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do. Even in the process of worrying about bills, politics, wages, health care, jobs, food and shelter. Through all that, there is time to write and do devotional work. Life waits for neither of these things, just as it refuses to wait for anything.
Occasionally, I like talking about my experience as a writer. This is one of those times. While there are others out there who do better work and command higher salaries for their capacity to put words down on the page, such experience and skill does not render them immune from the scourges of burnout. It becomes painfully easy to forget yourself, and focus on something so much that you miss the reason that you started giving a damn in the first place. I did this very recently; in my concern for where my/our faith is going, I forget about my own place within that greater whole. Not as someone trying to be clergy, or “big name Pagan*”, or an author, but as someone who simply does devotional work towards the Gods he venerates.
Passion is a good thing. If you write about anything you are passionate about, this is also a good thing. Passion towards your faith and beliefs are also good things. There is, in my mind, legitimacy to the idea of having too much of a good thing. You can immerse yourself so much within the psychology and philosophy of consideration, that you loose your frame of reference. You push yourself deeper and deeper into you own ponderings, and the effort leaves you surprisingly drained.
It’s one of the worst sorts of drained, too. It’s the kind of weariness that leaves you hard pressed to see anything beyond some very narrow and limited perspectives. It leads you to a place where you wind up resenting your writing for being so tangled, and I found myself being irritated at action because you need to waste time on something that isn’t writing.
I was surprised at what had taken my attention when I took a second to stop and look around. I had stopped writing devotionals. This was not because they weren’t worth doing, but because I felt like they didn’t challenge me enough. If I didn’t challenge myself, I feared that the quality of my work would suffer. I ended up talking less about the Gods and Goddess themselves, because the deities I most often talk about are controversial. I have no care for the controversy, but I also don’t want to abuse it for attention and gain. This is a problem I’ve fought with before, and it still finds inventive new ways to rear it’s ugly head.
The long and short of this is that, I caught myself before things got particularly damaging. Every now and again, in addition to my writing based on my religion, I also write about my experiences in trying to become a writer**. About my observations, pitfalls, and my advice to anyone else who is trying to do something similar to me. I am in the position where I can not only do that, but also talk about my faith as I do so. To anyone trying to do something unusual with their writing, anyone working to deepen their connection to their perception of the divine, and especially anyone trying to do both at the same time? I have some advice.
Never forget to do. Never forget action. Whether you’re writing about religion, travel guides, high fantasy, or economist porn***, make sure you do just as much as you write. Whether you’re going through a clergy program, learning how to meditate, or just trying to figure your own method of prayer. Tear yourself away once in a while and grab some experiences. For yourself, for the sake of your own sanity, and so you can keep seeing the differences and similarities between forests and trees. Write something self-indulgent. If you are already writing self-indulgent work, write something else self-indulgent when the first project starts going long. Pray while standing on your head. Give an offering, from the depth of your heart, in the most unusual method you can think of.
A writer reads with their eyes, and send their message with their hands. Where the work is created is in the mind. A spirtiualist’s core in the heart of their soul. Too much stagnation, and they both wither. When you realize you’re tired when you sit at your desk or pray your altar? Do something. Anything.
Time won’t wait for you to get everything right.
I have a Patreon account, which you should look at. Most of my work is geared towards my religion
* If I become a big name Pagan, I hope that the name is Detective Gothi Victormathewitzachan Von DeLermasteinenbergermann, esquire.
**By which I mean, my efforts to become a writer who makes the majority of his earning via writing. Just like being an artist, you become a writer when you say to yourself that being a writer is something you WILL become.
***”Oh, I don’t know what to with all of these stocks!” “With assets like you have, they really ought to be introduced to my portfolio” *bow-chick-a-wow-wow!*