Friday, June 08, 2007


If you know how to flirt, maybe you've got what it takes to be a good writer. At least that's what the authors of Made to Stick imply, in a chapter called "Unexpected"...

There is value in sequencing information— not dumping a stack of information on someone at once, but dropping a clue, then another clue, then another. This method of communication resembles flirting more than lecturing.

I never thought I'd want to cultivate flirtation in my personality, but maybe, just maybe this qualifies as a point of exception. (Side note here: what is biblical predictive prophecy, after all, but a form of purposeful, redemptive flirtation, direct from the Word himself?)

This reminds me of a discussion in The Soul Tells a Story. Wright warns artists of all kinds that, to be powerful in our crafts, we must maintain openness. We must fall in love, so to speak. This, of course, puts us in the danger zone, as we may find ourselves falling in love with all kinds of people (not always the "allowable" kind of falling in love either).

Her advice? Just understand that this comes with the territory, and that you are not "going to rearrange your life" for temporary feelings. You're not going to break up a family or compromise yourself. Apt advice for writers who want to cultivate flirtation, don't you think?

(Oh, and speaking of flirting, you might like this talk I did called Of Sex and Shepherds, or this little love reflection by Scot McKnight.)

Photo by Sonia.

Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.


Andrea's Flirtatious

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Blogger Every Square Inch said...

I guess I don't have what it takes to be a good writer. :-)

9:20 AM  
Blogger Al Hsu said...

It's not exactly related to your post, but I blogged about Made to Stick a few entries ago, if you want to link to it. Great book.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

That's pretty scandalous, L.L. :)

But I like how you've linked the flirtatious aspect of prophecy...excellent.

now...I'm can I be more flirtatious with my *husband*--a creative endeavor, no?

9:40 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I'm writing a post on just that thought: flirting with your look for it later today to link, ok.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., Flirting seems to me to be kind of a playful endeavor of back and forth, give and take. Blessed are the couples who enjoy it.

It maybe has the aspect of drawing someone in, and I think good writing definitely has that aspect. It keeps you turning the pages because your heart is moved and you want more. You like what is going on, and reading the rest is what you want to do.

Interesting thought and true, I think.

5:07 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Every Square... no problem. (So, uh, do you lecture your wife?)

Al... Indeed, I started reading this book because of your recommendation. I LOVE it. My brain is just popping with ideas on everything from how to apply it to writing, education, conflict resolution, marketing. Thanks for the tip!

Andrea... Isn't it funny how scandalous we sometimes see the very gifts God has given us? Maybe because we see them misused and have been burned by this on both sides of the equation (both as one who misuses and as one who is misused). And, hey, good for you, on thinking of your hubby! Also... phew! I was so glad to go read your post and find that it wasn't about you flirting with my husband (reread your comment and just see what I mean. :)

5:09 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Ted... oops, missed you. You pushed that button first! I loved your comment about the give and take of flirting. I wonder, in the context of writing, what the reader gives, even as he takes the advances of the author.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Ted said: "It maybe has the aspect of drawing someone in, and I think good writing definitely has that aspect. It keeps you turning the pages because your heart is moved and you want more. You like what is going on, and reading the rest is what you want to do."

I see Jesus doing this time and again during his stay on earth. The Sermon on the Mount comes to mind immediately. After everything Christ said "the people were amazed that he spoke as one who had authority." I think they definitely wanted to hear more from him!

And the interesting thing is that the Sermon on the Mount is not exactly a Sunday drive in the country. It is painful and confrontational stuff. Jesus laid bare many a soul and washed away many a foundation that day, and then he didn't even offer them a band aid or a balloon when he was done.

Just a big pregnant pause.
Until his crucifixion.

And when he was resurrected and transfigured, and eventually when we get to see him in all his glory... that'll be the end of the story and SO worth continuing to turn the pages of history. God is a good writer, isn't He?

5:58 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Uh, yeah. That was MY husband. :)

11:14 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hmmm, perhaps this explains my insecurity as a writer. I've never been confident in my flirting abilities either :)

And I love the idea of God flirting with us - he definately is the creator of all good things, huh!

12:04 AM  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

Gosh! You do make me blush LL!

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LL -- I just read that section of The Soul Tells a Story, and I love how you connect it to our writing here. I'm feeling a bit of this exuberance in life now, finding it hard to concentrate on writing, but I know this experience is playing out this way in my life BECAUSE I am a writer.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., Good question and I don't know if there's much of an answer. Except to say that maybe the most excellent of writers, or probably better put, writers gifted in a certain way, will be able to ascertain what will be drawn from the reader through the writing, so that in a sense, a silent one, there is a kind of ongoing conversation occurring. The writer knowing this will elicit something or other, and continuing on with these things in mind.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...


I guess my understanding of flirting is a playful amorous behavior without serious intentions... and I always have serious intentions with my wife.

(But unfortunately, I've been known to lecture her as well as other members of my family from time to time ... but that's for another post)

12:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Uhh, LL? Now no one wants to be called a good writer...:)

I liked the analogy, though. It makes sense.

What is an asset as a writer is a persuasive personality with a bit of discernment into people's thinking, someone who can string along an exciting sequence of events, and who offers an adventure, mystery, and a chance to be a hero.

I wouldn't want to be labeled as flirtatious-especially now that I'm married, but I wouln't mind having the skills as a writer :)

3:36 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Erin... I really like your description of God's "writing." And, yes, I find myself wanting more and more of his touch, even when I simultaneously can feel afraid.

Stacey... I think it's fascinating to think about what aspects of personality may contribute to more engaging writing. Likewise, as Charity notes, it's interesting (and sometimes maybe a little scary) to realize that working on our writing can introduce new aspects into our personalities. And, of course, the hardest part is trying to live all this within the bounds of what we know is good and true.

Charity... love to hear this from you! And I'm so glad that Wright discusses this issue. I hope she saves many a creative person from confusion and impulsive decisions during such seasons.

Ted... you know, I love it when you comment here. There is something about the way you particularly engage here that is deeply poetic and insightful... and not afraid to look at hard issues with care and grace. Maybe I'll even do a post about the relationship between the reader and the writer.

Every Square... oh, yes, I see that flirting can be without serious intentions. Yet the Song of Songs, which God chose to leave in his Word, suggests that perhaps we might all consider the place of flirting in a committed relationship. (In fact, I think sometimes if we spent more time flirting with our spouses, our relationships would be stronger, to meet not only outside temptations but also basic hard times.)

Eve... I refer you to my comment above (to Every Square Inch), and I bless you with a blessing of redemptive flirtation in your writing!

10:05 AM  
Blogger Jennwith2ns said...

I like it. I think I've learned to flirt at my place of employment--not, I hope, in an unredeemed way. But I'm going to say it does factor into writing. And it is pretty fun!

9:00 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., I just read "of sex and shepherds". That's a great commentary by Provan and you draw on some other good sources. You really bring things together for me in a way that helped me understand what's going on there and its application for us now. Thanks much! Good stuff.

9:16 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Jenn... it is an interesting question as to what is redeemed flirting and what is not.

Ted... a nice surprise that you went over to read that! When I had to prepare that talk I thought, "Oh, no, why'd they give this to ME?" By the time I was done, I felt like you... it had helped me sort through things and come out with a good way of thinking about common struggles.

11:39 AM  

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