Out of the Ivory Tower

I read my friend Mary Kay’s beautiful blog post, You Can’t Stay on the Mountain, over at Smooth Paths the other day. You’ll have to hop over there and read it, but the gist of the post was that while it is good to get away and commune more closely with God, He doesn’t mean for you to stay in that private solace forever. You still have to come down and live life. My comment was that it reminded me of Fiction Writing.

I commented to Mary Kay, who is a pastor’s wife, that in the fiction world, we sometimes call it coming down out of the Ivory Tower. It would be so nice to stay up there, but then we would 1) miss out on the beauty of everyday life and 2) not be able to share how we’ve been changed in our writing. And now that I’ve thought about it, I would add that 3) we would miss out on the experiences that enrich our writing, and in doing so cheat our readers out of a better reading experience.

I am blessed to work at home, so I do happen to spend a lot of time away from people. I also spend an inordinate amount of time in my head. It’s just part of writing fiction, but what good is time spent in that ivory tower if we don’t live life? And how much of that time spent in my head is spent with God? To be honest, probably not enough. My faith is important to me, so wouldn’t ‘getting away’ spiritually enrich my writing?

As a writer, I think I need to balance that time between immersing myself in writing with living a fuller life and probably spending some more time in prayer and devotion, too. If I don’t, then how will my stories ever be real? Interesting? How will they be adventurous or impart any kind of wisdom at all? I’m not saying that I have any, but we all have experiences and lessons to share.

I believe that as writers, our writing will be better if we don’t sit in front of our laptops all day. I’m not saying I am good at doing this. I’m really not. I used to be better (when I was younger of course), but I am coming to realize that we need to experience real things in order to write about real life. Sure we may be writing fiction, but it must ring true.

I probably need to take more walks, grab the camera my husband gave me for Mother’s Day and take more pictures, spend more time in my garden, go camping, and instead of living in my Ivory Tower of fiction, I might even try doing the cabin thing to get closer to God like Mary Kay. Getting more focused as a Christ Follower might be just the thing I need.

The only problem is that I already have a hard enough time coming out of the Ivory Tower sometimes. I’ll have to be reminded to come down off the mountain, as well.

I wonder if any of you out there have any thoughts to share about not letting ourselves get locked up in our tower, but coming down and doing something we can write about later.

Do you think that if we are really present in our relationships, if we pay attention to others in our life, and if we are spiritually filled up, our writing will be richer for the effort?


P.S. As part of my journey to not get trapped in my ivory tower, I blog between books over at It Is What It Is. You are welcome to join me: http://itiswhatitispeople.blogspot.com/

*If you don’t see the ‘Comments’ form, you might check at the top right hand side of this post. 

4 thoughts on “Out of the Ivory Tower

  1. I’ve definitely contemplated this at this in-between, waiting stage in my “writing career” (such as it is!). I actually blogged about this recently–when we moved, I deliberately “unplugged” and could only check email/blog/FB once a day. I found I had a lot less angst about my waiting. Yet here I am, back online for much of this rainy Friday! I have to buy a new devotional book that will keep my mind occupied!


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