No Arms, Useless Legs
Toward the end of August, I attended an event a local Christian campground sponsored to celebrate the completion of its $4.5 million “Miracle Lodge.” And they had a lot to celebrate. Construction of the lodge took eight years and 34,000 hours of volunteer time. Not to mention all the legal and political hurdles they had to jump through.
Why is this place special? Bob Bardwell, the director and founder of Ironwood Springs, isn’t going to jump over any physical hurdles this side of heaven. A construction accident left him paralyzed from the waist down since 1973. He uses Ironwood Springs and the Miracle Lodge to minister to hundreds of people with disabilities.
At this celebration, a man named Tony Melendez performed. Mr. Melendez has a great voice, but what is amazing about him is his talent with the guitar. Especially since he has no arms. He ministers to people around the world singing and strumming with a pick between his toes. Both of these men overcame incredible obstacles to achieve their dreams. But how does this apply to me as a writer?
No writer can get published or achieve a modicum of success without perseverance. Do you have a three-inch stack of rejection letters? Did you get a critique in which someone tore you to shreds? Have you so little time you don’t know how you could write a short story much less a novel? If you want to meet your goal, you must not give up. As a boy, Tony Melendez had to develop a special method of playing the guitar with his feet. It would been easier to give up and be content with a disability check. But he persevered, and now he blesses hundreds of people with his music.
They developed their strengths and talents
I doubt Bob Bardwell knows much about mechanical engineering. He’s not a plumber. And I doubt he’d be very good at hanging drywall. Mr. Bardwell’s strength is in leadership and motivation. He inspired hundreds of people to give time and money to build the lodge. And though it’s quiet obvious Tony Melendez has a strength in music, he developed it by spending countless hours practicing, developing the muscles in his feet, toes, and legs to achieve his goal. What are your strengths and talents? I’m assuming you already have some a knack for writing. But how much time have you invested in learning your art? How much have you practiced? I’ve got to admit, I have a lot to learn. Right now I’m reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing. I recommend it, if you can put up with King’s potty mouth.
They relied on other people to shore up their weaknesses
A man walked on stage and set a guitar on the floor in front of a chair. Shortly after, Tony walked on stage and sat. The thought struck me that he can play the guitar phenomenally, but he cannot carry it on stage. He relies on other people, even to transport his instrument.
Writing is a solitary art, but you should not write in isolation. You need other people to help you see your blind spots. I often repeat myself. I don’t even realize it until someone points it out. And I can swear that at times my mind changes the page so that transposed letters, typos, and missing words magically appear correct. I need someone else (my wife, mostly) to see what I cannot. I encourage you to participate in a critique group. Critique groups are available at organizations such as American Christian Fiction Writers (acfw.com) and the Christian Media Association (joincma.org). A web site I also use for critiques is christianwriters.com.
What about you?
I witnessed a man with useless legs motivate volunteers to build a multi-million dollar building. The same day I listened to a man with no arms play the guitar. Two people overcoming their disabilities to accomplish miracles. What about you? What do you want to accomplish? I encourage you to persevere, develop your strengths, and rely on others to shore up your weaknesses.
And thanks to Karin for giving me the opportunity me to be a guest on her blog.