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Lent for Writers

March 9, 2012

Well, it’s here again. Lent.

If you’re Catholic, it’s the annual exercise in kicking yourself after you forgot to not get sausage on your pizza some Friday at lunch. (Okay, it’s really a lot more than that. But you do something very similar to that at least once every year or two.)


According to the Catholic Education Research Center, Lent is “a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter.”

For writers, it must sound a lot like busting your rear end by placing it in a chair and shooting your fingers across a keyboard until your work is done. Then doing it again in revisions. Then doing it again in more revisions. Then doing it again in even more revisions. Then going through the same process when you finally sell the damned thing and an editor gets hold of it.

Then, eventually, it’s released (you hope), and you get to a day of glory before the work starts again. For writers, it takes a lot longer than 40 days, though.

Lent is paralleled by the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert preparing for his ministry. The actual number isn’t 40–no one knows what it really is. Forty is biblical code for a lot.

What the writing journey can feel like

While you’re writing, it can feel like a journey is the desert.

“Hey, we’re going for pizza and then to the beach. Want to go?”

No. I have to write.

“Dude, I got tickets behind the dugout at Tropicana Field and free meal vouchers.”

No. I have to write.

“Honey, the kids are both out and we’re alone and we could…”

No. I have to write.

On second, thought, I could use a break, but no cuddling.

It’s hard work. But Lent isn’t forever. It’s prefaced by a belief in the Easter that will come at the end of the process. In fact, it’s preparation for the work that will come at the end of the process.

If you’re like me, your Lent is measured in years, and Easter hasn’t come yet. But your belief in your own personal Easter–whatever that might mean–has to be there to get you through. If you don’t believe in it, the trip through the desert has no meaning.

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