Through the Creator’s Eyes

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My creative engine is a stubborn thing. Much like my poor motorcycle (Mr. Miyagi), if it sits too long, going unused and ignored, it takes a significant investment of work to get it back into shape. In Mr. Miyagi’s case, he needed a new battery and a lot of elbow grease. My writing muscle, however, needed me to plant my butt in a chair and crank the gears by hand for a while. And let me tell you, when the gears are rusty, they don’t like to be cranked.

Thankfully, things are running smoothly now. I’m hitting and exceeding my writing goals almost everyday and Fiddler’s Green is a real joy to be writing.  In an earlier post I wrote this of the writing of the book:

The road ahead leads through some dark and beautiful country and the miles may leave my feet blistered and swollen. Wish me well; Fin’s gone far astray and I’m anxious to bring her home.
perspectiveI’m in that dark country now. In the last couple of days of writing, the frustration and heartbreak of some of my characters has moved me in profound ways. I tweeted that I cried when I wrote a particular chapter and I confess that’s no joke. I turned into a sniffling mess in the back corner of my Blue Coast Burrito workspace and I’m sure a few strangers walking by must have thought I had lost my mother or, worse, my sanity.

This is something I suspect might be difficult for people to comprehend. I freely admit it’s a strange thing, this intense personal relationship an author feels for his creation. But from where I sit in front of my keyboard, creating the lives and the world that these, my characters, inhabit, it’s a precious and intimate view. I’ve created them, given them lives and hopes and ambitions, and then I find I’ve put them through hell. I’ve orphaned them, widowed them, tortured and killed them and, worse, I know that I have further horrors yet in store. I make them cry and wail and curse the day they were born and on days when I write these scenes I find that sometimes I have to defend myself against them. Why? Why these terrible things? they ask. And though they can’t possibly understand, my answer is this: I know how it all ends and just wait, just wait. I’ve seen the final scene and it’s worth all I’ve put you through.

What a rich communion then to create and know that I am myself created.

At times, when asked if I’m going to attend church on Sunday morning, I’ve declined with the excuse that I have writing to do. I’ve even claimed (usually to rolled eyes) that I believe writing can be a form of worship itself. When I can draw near enough to my own created world and see through it into the mind of the greater Author, I’m stricken and awed. I’m broken open because I too lie awake at night, and I curse the day I was born, and I struggle and cry and wonder how long, how long, Oh Lord, will these things go on. And by writing and descending into the lives of my paper creations, I hear the Author calling back to me, “Just wait, just wait.”

Profile photo of Pete Peterson

Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.


13 Comments

  1. Andrew C

    This morning as I journaled, it sounded much like what you have said here: “How long? I don’t understand.”

    I know He has wonderful plans through everything but that is hard to see from the middle of it.

    Thanks for the encoruagement.

  2. redhead.kate

    As much as I don’t like it, you have to put them through those dark and difficult times because that is what real life is like. Underneath these fictitious characters, we are faced with the truth of a fallen world. As hard as it is to take, it is also the reason so many people have related to your characters. So while, I haven’t ever been a female pirate (I know, everyone thought I was), I have had the longings for “home” like Fin. I understand that reality in your fiction because it is true to life.

  3. keo

    As much as I enjoyed the rest of what you wrote, I think you are missing the point of church in your last paragraph. I’m reminded of similar comments: “Why should I join a church? I can worship God sitting in the woods by myself,” and “Why would I want to ruin my spiritually enjoyable experience of God by going to church?”

    Church isn’t about individual fulfillment through personal expressions of worship; it isn’t one of many equally valid options for how to worship once a week. We all should be worshiping with our lives all week long, as per Romans 12, something that you may be doing as you write, for example. But I don’t think that replaces the privilege or the exercise in humility and self-sacrifice (depending on your point of view and the quality of the music, preaching, and friendships you enjoy in your local church) that is the church community experience.

    Perhaps you might consider a sabbath day from your writing each week, which you then might consider sharing with the rest of your local brothers and sisters for their edification. Who knows? Rubbing up against those real lives, hopes, and ambitions each week might even prove to be a useful spiritual discipline, one that informs your writing on the other six days.

  4. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Pete, thanks for this. Cranking up the creativity after taking time off can be a little bit of hell; my flesh kicks and screams and would rather do nearly anything but sit the rear end in the chair and get writing, or practicing, or whatever happens to be the order of the day.

  5. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Thanks for the concern, Keo, but let me clarify. I don’t advocate that anyone eschew church and most Sundays I look forward to it. There are times, though, when I’m called otherwise.

  6. Kendall Ruth

    I have known the emotion of writing those characters and it is sometimes a scary place, and refreshing on the other side.
    And it is also good ti hear someone else’s version of “wait.”

    As for the church thing…great move. Because the dog and pony show on Sunday isn’t about the dog and ponies anyway.

  7. Jaclyn

    It does feel like a prviledge to be a creator, and know what it means to “kill your darlings.”

    When God finished the Garden of Eden, he acknowledged it was Good. The Garden sure seemed like a great idea to me. If I was critiquing God’s creation, I’d say, “Hey! This is great! Whatever you have to do, leave this in.”

    He absolutely could have manipulated the circumstances to accomplish this. He could have ignored Adam and Eve’s sin and knuckled them into a artifical state of compliance and doll-like devotion. Then, what of God’s justice? How could we have learned to live, to love?

    What we sense instinctively, God originated when he crafted our world: If it’s too easy, it’s not genuine. Even the Good world God created with just words, I imagine had to cost Him the breaking of His heart as He looked ahead knowing all we’d put ourselves through on our way back to Him.

    Thanks for the brain/soul food! As a last note… that picture is so cool!

  8. Laurel

    This brought me to rolling tears. How easy to forget, on those days when I cry and wail and curse the day I was born, that the Author of my story likely weeps with me. Yet He, too, has “seen the final scene and it’s worth all [He’s] put [me] through.”
    Thanks for the perspective!

  9. Dan R.

    The following is something somebody gave me once that I feel would be well-posted here. The words are of George MacDonald, but the gist of it, I believe, reflects what I have been seeing here.

    (referring to Jesus’ proclamation that he came only to do what he learned from the Father)
    “Now I ask whether that grandest thing, crowning his life, the yielding of it to the hand of violence, he has not learned also of his Father. Was his death the only thing he had not so learned?
    If I am right, and I do not say “if” in doubt, then the suffering of those three terrible hours was a type of the suffering of the Father himself in bringing sons and daughters through the cleansing and glorifying fires, without which the created cannot be made the very children of God, partakers of the divine nature and peace. Then from the lowest, weakest tone of suffering, up to the loftiest pitch, the divinest acme of pain, there is not one pang to which the sensorium of the universe does not respond; never an untuneful vibration of nerve or spirit, but thrills beyond the brain or heart of the sufferer to the brain or heart of the universe; and God, in the simplest, most literal, fullest sense, and not by sympathy alone, suffers with his creatures.”

  10. Janna Barber

    I have yet to create any fictional worlds, but I do believe writing can be an act of worship as well as a unique source of communion. It’s like Eric Liddell said: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.” Write on, Pete, write on.

  11. Miss Linda

    I’m years behind, I know. But as I am working my way through the archives, this post was right on time. I needed this today.

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