Mom, I Deleted my Book
Mom, I Deleted My Book
A Writer’s Confusion and Commission
By Anye Wrenne
I started writing when I was about ten years old. It was a hobby, a delight, a slowly-forming dream. Like a little tree, it rooted and grew branches, blooming and producing fruit. I climbed high in that tree, exploring different places to sit and watch the sunrise. Sometimes I felt guilty sitting there. I could feel people watching me as they passed, their heads bent backward, the word “idle” tickling their tongues.
College started. I sank back against the tree trunk. The word “idle” dusted my brain and tapped its toes impatiently. Still, I wrote, trying to believe that there was a point to the wordy mess. Guilt hovered over me like a specter.
“See a need, fill a need,” it shouted at me. Its sharp finger drilled into my chest, pushing me backward. “See the need? See the lost, the hurting, the ones who’ve never heard a word of the Gospel? Stop climbing the tree.”
The summer after my first year at college, I decided I could cut it off in one fell swoop. Down went the files of ideas, down into deleted nothingness, because they were a distraction and I needed to get serious about what God wanted me to do. Bathed in the white light of the computer screen, I deleted ten years' worth of my stories. Completely. I even removed the files from the trash with one quick click.
“Mom, I deleted my book,” I told her the next day. She got upset. She cried. I felt foolish. I looked over at the maimed branches and the sap that oozed from mangled bark. Hadn’t I chopped at the tree in good sense?
Idle sipped tea with Idol and nodded her head.
“It’s a good idea to get rid of us, darling,” Idle said slyly. “Your head is getting much too dusty up here. Besides, we know we’re not great company.”
Guilt played cards in the background.
But deleting my book could not make these vicious creatures vacate the premises. Idle was right about their unpleasant company. The trio wreaked havoc on my conscious during the months to come. I wrestled with my idols and felt guilt over everything I perceived as idle behavior.
Over the next year I flirted with stories. I scribbled ideas on scraps of paper and napkins. In the dim light of my college dorm I hid the notebook with my bent shoulders, afraid of someone seeing me. I was afraid of God’s disapproval.
Spring semester of sophomore year, the war inside of me crescendoed. Confusion wracked my brain. Why had God given me both a mind that loved to wander imaginary lands and eyes that saw the needs of people? This world had enough problems. I didn’t need to go traipsing about in fictional ones that I, of all people, had created.
Responsibilities clung to my shoulders. They dug into my back with their sharp claws. My soul was stuck between my desire to be useful and what I believed was a useless desire to create.
In a flurry of desperation, I sat down with God.
“God, I can’t do this,” I wrote in my journal. Painful yearnings tumbled about in my thoughts. “If you really want me to stop writing, you have to rip out these dreams and ideas. Please, take them from me!"
I envisioned fingers tearing out the hidden storehouses of my heart, burning them until I felt them no more.
I knelt before my King, beside the tree. The poor thing had bandages and ropes strung about it where I’d tried to figure out how to fix the mess I’d made. In my peripherals, I saw my King step forward. But instead of shriveling the plant with one breath, He gently brushed His fingers along the bark.
I gazed up, startled. He reached down and grabbed my hands — stained and bruised from climbing — and pulled me up.
“Child,” He said, “I created you, and I created this tree. I know every ridge, every ring, and every leaf.” He pointed as He talked, inviting me to study each feature with Him. “I gave this to you. A year ago, you would not have given it to me to do what I willed. Can’t you see the change in your heart?”
A warm light of understanding crept up my face.
“So, You’re not going to chop it down?” I whispered. “You still want me to use it?”
“My daughter,” He smiled. “I want you to use it for me.”
Learning to climb a tree again is hard. It has been for the past few years. He is with me, though. He shows me the best places to sit and we watch the sunrises together. Sometimes the golden light of the sun hits his palms just right, and I see the scars like I’ve never seen them before. I’ve found that climbing with Him gives opportunity for lots of talks. I pray that these glimpses of Him reach my readers, too. Otherwise it’s all a bust.
Sometimes Idle, Idol, and their close friend Guilt show up. The tree is definitely scarred and perhaps a little confused about how I actually feel towards it. I think I am too. But God gave me writing both as a dream and a commission. I can confess Idol, deny Idle, and release Guilt. When I’m too confused to do that, I can lean against my King and trust that He will catch me if I run off course.