I am entranced when I watch the US women’s gymnastics team as they compete. Watching Simone Biles soar through the air is rapturous. She makes the impossible look so easy, for a fraction of a second I imagine I might be able to do that, too.
Of course that is ridiculous for so many reasons and not only because I am old. We know it takes years and years of practice and pain for a gymnast to make something so difficult and precise look so grace-filled and effortless.
I started thinking about this when I saw from around the internet my book No Place had shipped. It hasn’t arrived in my mailbox yet, but I think some are on the way. I wait with eagerness, but some trepidation.
I’m not saying writing is exactly the same, but it’s similar. A good piece of writing, a good story makes me forget the author and the work it took to write it. It carries me away. Marilynne Robinson’s work does that—it is so finely crafted it takes my breath away. I don’t think about her sitting hour after hour, drafting, deleting, staring out the window, percolating words and phrases as she chews eraser heads.
I strive for this sense of ease and flow in writing, but it isn’t automatic. If my work merely approaches this, barely touches it, like maybe I placed fourth in a local gymnastics meet, then I will be pleased.
The endorsements I’ve received from folks who read No Place make me glad, and yet I’m afraid. What if I fall off the balance beam? No Place can’t be recalled. It’s out there.
As I wrote about my life as a young woman, I realized that most of the time I did not know where I was going until I was already there. Life often came as a series of blunders and surprises. When I looked back I could see that crossing that dark desert during the years I called no place, I was led. There is no mistaking that.
As No Place makes its way in the world I hope my story will cause readers to think about their own story. How has God been faithful to you through the years? Has it caused you to grow in wisdom? Has it given you a deeper love for him and others?
That would make me happy.