One big reason why I’m so passionate about people of faith taking a bigger role in the arts comes from a personal epiphany (“theophany”?) I had late one night in 2001.
I was working on a script for Touched By An Angel that was due the next day, and I was totally lost. I had written myself into a figurative tributary of the Amazon River and I couldn’t find my way back the main story channel. And you have to understand, there is no such thing as “writer’s block” in the television writing business. Writer’s block would probably result in your pink slip from the show because shutting down a crew for a day or so while the writer figures out how to finish his script just isn’t possible. It would essentially leave a $100,000 meter running. That production beast is hungry and has to be fed a new script every seven days.
Then those negative self-esteem tapes began to play in my mind. ”You suck, Bird.” ”How did they even let you in this business?” ”Now they’re really going to find out what a poser you are.” Obviously that only stoked my desperation even more.
So I finally did what writers do after screaming and cursing and pulling their hair out. I begged God for help. Well, maybe not all writers do that, but I’ve never had a problem admitting I’m a big weenie of a man who needs a giant crutch to lean on. I prayed, “God, please help me figure this story out, and please help me NOW because I’m dead meat if you don’t.”
Did I hear a voice? Did words begin typing themselves on my computer screen? Well, no. But I did feel a deep impression on my soul, and these are the words that pressed themselves on me. “I was a writer… now you be one.”
Chills went up my spine and I actually gasped. See, I was raised in church. My grandfather was a pastor. My father was a pastor for a time when I was young. I went to Sunday School. I had identified myself as a Christian since boyhood.
Suddenly, spiritual principals from the Bible I’d learned began to flood my soul:
- God is the “author” of life… the AUTHOR of the universe.
- (John 1:1) “In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was God.”
- (Heb. 12:2) ” Looking unto Jesus, the AUTHOR and finisher of our faith…”
- (2 Cor. 3:2-3) “You are our epistle written in our hearts… written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”
Then it hit me… how did God choose to leave his message to mankind? In a giant novel. History is His Story… a great, big cosmic narrative he is writing through space and time in which we are all characters — whether we acknowledge it or not. And through creation he has chosen all of us to be tiny creative threads in that tapestry.
That night, I don’t remember exactly how I finished that script, but I did, and I turned it in on time. And it actually turned out to be one of my better episodes.
Now, you may read this and not be able to relate. You may think, “what a religious nut.” That’s okay. Most writers are nuts of one kind or another. But I’m happy to report I’ve never had another bout of the dreaded “Block” since that night. I have learned how not to out-think myself. I’ve learned not to over-analyze every line. I’ve learned to stop editing myself so much and start trusting my instincts more. That’s not to say that everything that flies off my keyboard is gold, or can’t be improved on. But it usually works pretty well.
And that’s because I now keep a little yellow Post-in on my computer monitor. It reads: “God was a writer… now you be one.”