I was almost there.
I had been struggling for the last nine months with writer’s block. Not a word would come for the fourth and final novel of my series God’s People. I was desperate to write, but inspiration did not come.
The muse was sleeping.
But then some small comment, made by a friend two weeks ago, made her raise her head, yawn, stretch her arms and jump to her feet. Since then she has been dancing and weaving her way through my mind and I have been writing between six and ten hours a day!
The words were flowing, pouring out of me. My characters were taking on lives of their own. I was following their lead. There was no need to pull them back into line. They were all heading in the same direction and so I let them go.
(For those of you who are not writers, this may sound strange, but I can assure you it happens. And sometimes the places where they take you are unexpected. Sometimes you have to be firm. Other times, giving them their head results in a far better story than their writer could ever have imagined.)
So, yesterday the words were flowing. I knew the story was coming to a climax. I knew I had several thousand words still to write to reach the end. And I knew I had a limited number of hours to go if I wanted to finish the work that afternoon.
But then it happened. The interruption.
A clatter of sparrows settled outside my study window. The leaves of the Chinese maple are unfurling softly in the southern spring, and the play of shadow and light was pretty. The small bird bath was full of water in this dry and dusty land and these small visitors had come to bathe and drink.
They were impossible to ignore.
Small they may have been. Silent they were not. The male was singing the shots. Declaring his right to bathe first, he revelled in the water, drinking first, then splashing and declaring to his ladies how wonderful the water was once you were in. They hopped around, settling on this branch, that brick, the ground, chattering and nagging, urging him to hurry so they could have their turn. Clean and no longer thirsty, the little male hopped around the edge of the birdbath, his dull brown feathers now free of dust.
As he hopped into a patch of sunlight, he glowed copper, the sun making him irridescent. His beauty was remarkable. I had watched him as a plain, common little sparrow, but for a brief moment, he was beautiful. I looked at him with new eyes.
He was still calling the shots. His ladies were trying to get to the water. Still jabbering, their timidity making it a challenge. Not all of them got there. For he tired of waiting and flew off, his yackety, clackety, chattering wives following him.
And silence reigned. And the mused tugged. And words flowed again.
The interruption had passed. But I’m glad it came. The fleeting glimpse of beauty was a gift, and I finished my novel in the time I had left.
Thank you, Jesus, for the inspiration – the muse – and thank you for the interruption and the reminder of the glory of creation.