Towards the end of the classic movie, Princess Bride, there is a scene where Westley–recently resurrected–bluffs his way through a confrontation with the the evil Prince Humperdinck. He threatens a duel–not to the death, but “to the pain.” To my mind, this is what we who call ourselves creative must do with the “Resistance.” We must wrestle it to the pain, through the pain, to get to the work we were made to do.
You say you are not creative? I don’t believe you. Bestselling author Tosca Lee says, “We are made in the image of the most creative being in the universe… But we allow things to get in the way.”
Things such as the resistance.
What is the the resistance? Whatever gets in our way. Whatever fears, doubts, messages, which assail us, and keep us from creating. You already know this, but it bears repeating:
No one else in this world of seven billion souls has the same well of experiences from which to draw. No one else has your unique perspective and voice.
Because no one else is you!
And you can do it! We need your voice. I need your voice.
Because it helps me to know that I am not alone, not crazy, in the pursuit of my dream.
Now: create your hearts out, write until your fingers bleed, your heart bleeds, your arms ache from sculpting, painting… And then do it some more! Cast off the fetters which restrain you from doing the creating you really want to do, feel called to do.
When you do that, the magic happens–because honoring the gift, whatever it is, honors the ONE Who gave it to you.
Create through the pain, past the pain, and get up tomorrow, and do it again. Because the resistance is not going away. But like Prince Humperdinck, we can threaten it into submission, quell its voice, and get down to work. The resistance does not fear getting ugly with you, so be ruthless in conquering it. Because you will find that it is, afterall, just a bully.
And like most bullies, the resistance is really a coward at heart.
So resist the resistance.
And do it one day at a time. Because that’s all we have to work with: one day at a time. Your courage, in the face of your fears, encourages not only me, but everyone watching.
Folks, if you happened to drop in last week, you may have seen an excerpt from my memoir-in-progress. In it, I grapple with who my dad is, the forces that shaped him, and the watershed moments in my own life. While it does tread through some heavy territory, it is ultimately a tale of grace and redemption.
Or it will be.
If I can get done. Along with the memoir, I’ve also taken up the mantle of NaNoWriMo, or national novel writing month. Which means I’m now not just working on one book, but two. Or maybe I’m just crazy.
Time will tell.
In any case, what this means is that I’ll have little time for this blog for the foreseeable future. In truth, I’ve been feeling called in this direction for some time, but have resisted it out of fear.
What will happen to my platform?
I’m not sure. What I do know is that “he who seeks to save his life shall lose it,” and “unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone.”
All of which is to say: I aim to be scarce for awhile.
1) When did you first know when you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote this play called The Artist (in the late 90’s, long before the recent Best Picture Winner). I don’t even remember the exact plot, but it was something akin to four people painting all of their sins on a canvas, and then someone else came along, making those paintings beautiful. I know it sounds kind of serious and ham-fisted (which it was) but it had a lot of jokes in it.
2) Who first validated that desire in you?
The audience for that play. It got a standing ovation after it was over (it played at the youth event) and afterwards everyone talked about how great the writing was. I realized what I loved most was putting the story together.
3) What does a workday look like for Rob Stennett?
Everyday is a little different. I do a lot of writing and directing. But I always try to craft fiction in the morning. If I don’t the day quickly gets away from me.
4) What is your creative process?
Before I ever sit down to write I think about the story. Getting ready in the morning, in the car, I try to really think about the scene that day. It helps me so the writing kind of explodes out of me by the time I sit down. Normally, I’ll have somewhat of an outline–but then I’ll get this great idea and I have to change a bunch of stuff in earlier chapters. When the story is FINALLY finished I revisit all the chapters and rewrite them. Then when I feel done I send them to my editor who tells me there is a lot more rewriting to do. Sorry. This suddenly doesn’t feel very creative. [Ed. note: no, but it sounds very real]
5) You are on staff at a church, right?
Yes, New Life Church in Colorado Springs. It’s a really great group of people and I’m happy to be a part. I’m the Creative Director: I direct productions, oversee video and graphic content, and whatever else needs to be done.
6) How do you balance your multiple careers? Family Life?
That’s the hardest part. I love all of it. I guess lately the key is really to schedule my time well. I work a lot during lunch. Sometimes I put on a cup of coffee at night and work more. I don’t know if I’m a very balanced person. But I’m a happy person. I love my family and love what I do.
7) Your work includes a lot of pop culture references, social commentary, and satire. What drew you as a creative person to those avenues?
Pop culture is what I love. I grew up on Star Wars,Beastie Boys, and whatever else you see in my books; it’s something fun to talk about. Some earlier seasons of the Simpsons had these really great episodes about faith and religion but used satire to tell their stories. I always thought “That’s something I want to do.” I want to write about faith, but put a satirical slant on it.
8) Your first novel is The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher. Can you tell us where the genesis of the idea behind that book originated?
When I was living in LA my wife and I went around looking for churches. I guess that’s when I realized what a strange place church was. I’d grown up in it, I knew how it worked, I knew all of the code words, but I still found it strange. I thought what would someone who never went to church before think of this place. What if he had to go for some reason? Or what if some guy who had no idea how a church worked tried to start one of his own? It was an entertaining thought. Felt like it would make a good story.
9) Who are some writers you admire, and why?
I love Tim O’Brien because I want to be able to write like him. The way he crafts paragraphs is a thing of beauty.
Kurt Vonnegut was one of the author’s that changed how I viewed writing. He was so funny and human and simple when I first read his books I thought, I didn’t know you could do that.
Stephen King creates these really simple everyman characters and puts them in just amazing situations. When people talk about getting Lost In a Book his stories are the first that come to mind.
Anne Lamott because she talks about faith in a way that makes it feel fresh and real again.
There are so many more, but that’s all I’m going to give you for now.
10) Can you tell us about your weekly podcast, 9 Thumbs?
It’s one of the highlights of my week. It’s three guys (unless there is a girl) talking about three things that we like. It’s fun to learn about new blogs, books, bands (among other things), and just talk about why we admire them. Internet culture can also be such a cynical place that’s it’s fun to just heap praise on things.
11) Any questions you’re never asked that you’d like to address?
Normally yes, but these questions were so good I have nothing to add. Thanks for having me.
Thanks, Rob, for coming by! Appreciate you taking the time!
Do you have any questions for Rob? Ask away!
Folks, you can find Rob on the Internet on his (infrequently updated) website: Rob Stennett, follow him on Twitter @robstennett, see his Amazon page here, and catch up with his podcast at 9Thumbs. By the way, Rob recently published a short story, entitled Chicken, about certain events pertaining to a certain chicken chain which occurred on certain day this past summer. Whew! That was mouthful. You can pick Chicken up here for $.99.
Update! Comment for a chance to win a Kindle copy of Rob’s first novel, The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher.