Saturday, July 23, 2011

On, In, and Around Mondays: Writer Asking for Much

blue glass ball

When writing a book, an article, even a blog post, we must choose an angle. We must offer the reader something he or she wants. I know that. Still, I find it hard.

I find it hard, because I write for a questionable reason: the desire to connect. And when I choose an angle, I risk that connection. Somebody isn't going to want to hang around for a 12-week course, for instance. So the relationship I've been cultivating with a reader suddenly has a little hole in it.

I should not care about this, but I do. Every writer has her struggles.

Can I be honest? I wish that my readers would seek a body of work, not a particular angle. I wish that they would read the beginning of the story, even though it doesn't come with formulas. I wish that they would read the poetry, so they could see the small moments inside the larger ones. And I wish that the promise of a 12-week course wouldn't scare them away from the story of the yard itself. I wish to be understood as something of an oak tree, like the one that grew on Luci Shaw's front lawn— which had its many parts, visible and invisible, as it moved through seasons and even to its death.

I think what I really want is for readers to take the metaphorical view that Shaw speaks of, that "sees the world not as reducible to verbal proposition but as multi-leveled, complex, rich, its mystery capable only of being pierced and presented as imagery." Yes, I want my readers to forget about writing-angles and simply come for the stones, the yard, and (soon) the water.

This is idealistic, I know. It is asking readers to commit to a long-term relationship, the way I have committed to it as the writer who serves them. The Market does not promote this kind of relationship, nor does it necessarily focus on art, imagination, and spirit (breath for the bones).

I am asking for much. But maybe this is what makes me an artist— asking for connection that penetrates surfaces and tangles with earth... like Luci's oak tree.


Over at The High Calling, we're walking beside each other, discussing Luci Shaw's Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination and Spirit: A Reflection on Creativity and Faith. Want to join us?


On, In and Around Mondays (which partly means you can post any day and still add a link) is an invitation to write from where you are. Tell us what is on, in, around (over, under, near, by...) you. Feel free to write any which way... compose a tight poem or just ramble for a few paragraphs. But we should feel a sense of place. Would you like to try? Write something 'in place' and add your link below.

If you could kindly link back here when you post, it will create a central meeting place. :)

On In Around button

This post is also shared with Laura Boggess, for...

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Blogger Glynn said...

No one has a problem signing up for the long term -- for the body of work -- when the quality is as good as this.

6:45 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...


It is an interesting question though... of what makes it okay (or not) for a writer to hope for this kind of relationship with readers.

6:47 PM  
Blogger nicolewian said...

This is beautiful. And I so agree. I just read Sir Philip Sidney's 'Defense of Poesy' and he says, 'there are many mysteries contained in poetry'. Is there no responsibility within the reader to decipher either the mystery that the piece reveals within themselves or within the author?

7:41 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

This was lovely. I have added that book as well as 'God in the Yard' to my Amazon wishlist, looking forward to placing that order and reading more of these lovely, inspiring words :)

8:17 PM  
Blogger Megan Willome said...

Are you kidding? I read you because of relationship.

9:02 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Megan, I think I stopped breathing for the littlest moment when I read your words. Maybe, as readers, this is how we could narrow the world of books a bit. Maybe I too could be this kind of reader more than I am. Reading for the love of an author, even if that author never knows.

Nicole, thank you. That's it, yes. Something about agreeing to seek the mystery beyond the surface.

Kris, welcome. I hope you find something to feed your soul.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

Yes - you ask for much. But what I have found is that, thanks to social media world we find ourselves living in, I have added a new dimension to how and what I read. I still read and pick up books that interest just from book cover blurbs but of late I am picking up books (yours, Wheeler's, Doallas' etc.) because of relationship. I feel that a connection has been made no matter how small between writer and reader through the social networks that allow the writer to be in a position to ask for more than she would otherwise. And I have to agree with Megan, I found you through relationship which led to your books, which allowed me to be open to you as a writer to ask for more.

Good thoughts, and good questions to consider!

10:36 PM  
Blogger Connie said...

With you, through the stones...from inside to out...will walk through water...and occasionally whisper words in your inbox dear friend:)

8:17 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I think the beauty of this online thing is the relationship we are allowed over time. We come to know the subtleties of a writer...such a gift to return to over and over. The books, yes, there must be an angle. But visiting you here on your front porch is such the joy. Last night I dreamed you came to my house to surprise me (and I think Marcus was with you but I can't be certain it was him) and my kitchen floor was so dirty (it is right now) but you didn't care. It still makes me smile knowing that you wouldn't :).

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Simply Darlene said...

Because of the heart, Truth, and quality of your writing (both blogs & books), I have overlooked the idea that you might struggle with anything literary or poetic.

Does that make me a bad reader (with a distorted view) or does that make you an even more excellent writer?


2:11 PM  
Anonymous violet said...

I suppose what surprised me most about this post is that you might feel you don't have a following. Then again, it's so easy to compare ourselves with someone who has a vast following and feel we don't measure up.

I would say too, that yours are the interests, and you do the kind of writing that is for the long haul. The internet can encourage us to flightiness, but when we find ourselves coming back to someone again and again, it is for the lasting stuff. I think this shows our loyalty to both the writing and the writer.

2:32 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Violet, you are wise and warm. Yes, there are committed readers. Of course! And this post perhaps seems not to leave space for that reality.

I wasn't sure about posting this, partly for that reason, but I thought perhaps it is good to reveal the kind of writer I am— one who provides the angle, knowing I need to, but who is hopelessly romantic about her writing at the same time.

I think... I am that kind of reader too. I remember reading George Eliot and wishing she was still alive, because I wanted to know her more.

Thanks for expressing your surprise. It mirrors back to me my frailties, in the best of ways.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

This makes me rather sad L.L. I have been thinking about this very thing (in a sort of different way). I am having such a hard time keeping up with all the people whose blogs I read. It really comes down to trying to spread myself too thin. There are far too many, but every time I try to thin it out I am afraid I will hurt someone's feelings. So I just keep adding to the already too long list.
I want so much to be part of a community but I can't when I just don't have enough minutes in the day to really spend time reading and interacting.
I am at the point where I know something has to give. I have mentally either given up blogging altogether or writing yet another post telling everyone I am cutting back.
I so want to have time to learn from you L.L. You have so much to share and I love your writing and the poetry and want to read the books.
I'm sorry - this is too long. You hit a nerve - something I've really been struggling with lately.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Bob Gorinski said...

The poetry IS asking a lot. I believe you, what many of you keep saying about poetry. Really I do.

But this seeking the mystery...still sounds like a lot of work, like some kind of commitment that I can't afford to make right now. My's like fear born of ignorance.

But I'm definitely heading over to order Stone Crossing. I've been meaning to do that!

12:18 AM  
Blogger Patricia said...

Oh, thank you for this honesty. Nothing connects me more deeply in relationship than honesty. I just picked up Inside Out and God in the Yard. I am not afraid of 12 weeks, I will embrace them. I wonder now, with a smile on my face, if even God ever imagined us being fishers of
(wo)men with a social net. Your work here, regardless of the puddle, is beautiful. Like Dori said in Finding Nemo... "just keep swimming!"

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Relationships are so important. In today's world, we are losing so much of that for we sit behind computers and inside homes and offices. Many relationships are just a surface type.
I love what Luci said, that "sees the world not as reducible to verbal proposition but as multi-leveled, complex, rich, its mystery capable only of being pierced and presented as imagery." Relationship is complex and rich, but cannot be achieved easily. We must share in the making of this relationship. "We" is important. Thanks for this beautiful request. Yes, asking much is what you did, but seeking much is really what you are doing and I would like to be on the other side of your search. Thank you for asking. I come for a stone.
~ linda

5:40 PM  
Blogger a joyful noise said...

After reading this, I need to go sit in my yard and consider munching and digesting all you have said here. I am reading your book, "God in the Yard" and enjoying it very much. (A gift from Cheryl)

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You, LL, are the queen of building these kinds of relationships. You know how to invest yourself in others' lives, and draw people into yours'. So glad to be with you in this for the long haul.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Sandra Heska King said...

I've read the beginning of the story. I've breathed in the poetry. And I've sat in the yard for way more than 12 weeks with you. I've eaten peaches with you, drank tea. I not only feel I know you a little, I relate more to God--see Him and know Him better--and I think I'm a better writer because of you. I only hope I have the same effect on others that you've had on me. :)

11:11 AM  
Blogger Kelly Sauer said...

We don't just ask for connection - we offer it.

I love the way you think, LL. And I love your body of work. You have been such a gift to me as I'm growing up in all this stuff. I am so looking forward to meeting you in person.

2:41 PM  

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