Last week I received the first round of edits on my book. It can be hard to receive constructive criticism – I think all writers have a secret hope that their first drafts will be flawless, though that is literally never the case.
Yet as I read my editor’s (gracious, kind, thoughtful, funny) comments, I watched my solitary practice of writing begin to take a more beautiful form because of the wise eye of another.
The few places she challenged me were areas I needed a challenge. Areas where I’d assumed things about other believers, where I’d unthinkingly made light of deep things, where I’d forgotten to mention a broader spectrum of orthodox faith.
My editor? She’s making me a better Christian, too.
I’m at the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids today, thrilling to the sound of authors’ voices I’ve only encountered before in text. The college where the conference is held is packed full of thick-rimmed glasses and cardigans and introverts as far as the eye can see. The rooms are filled with editors and writers and students, preachers and professors and publishers.
I’ve never been to a writing conference before. Writing is something I do alone late at night, early in the morning, while the kids nap, in a break before evening meetings at church.
Yet I’ve already taken pages of notes, started half a dozen blog posts, and felt my soul stretch. Turns out that writing, like almost anything else, is strengthened in community.
We’re preaching through Genesis at church this spring, and these verses from Genesis 1 strike me each and every time:
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…”
God himself is a community. Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God created humans to exist most fully in relationship to him and to one another.
For an introvert, learning to balance social times with alone time is key. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once so wisely wrote in Life Together, “Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.”
For the extraverts in our midst, the opposite call is true. “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community.”
We need each other, friends.
Sometimes it takes a solitary pursuit to realize how very, very much we do.
Are you a loner or a groupie? How do you balance time alone with time in community?