Linda is a dear friend from my writers' group so I get to read her words often and receive great feedback from her on my work, too. I'm delighted to have Linda participate in the Story Cures Interview and share her thoughts on reading, writing, creativity, and grace.
1. What's something you've read recently that has stayed with you?
“We need to come to know who we truly are, that uniquely beautiful person that God has made us. And to have the courage to live accordingly. Each of us is a unique expression of the divine goodness and beauty. If we do not live that and express it in our lives, it will never be expressed for the glory of God and the upbuilding of the whole Body of Christ.”
Breaking Bread by Basil Pennington (a quote in The Blue Book by Jim Branch) (I didn’t remember this quote word for word, but I have carried its message in my heart for a long time. This is, however, an exact quote.)
2. What's one of your favorite writing prompts?
I don’t really have one. However, I do have a get-to-know-one-another prompt. It is, “If you suddenly found yourself with an extra $50 to simply blow and four hours to kill, how would you spend those resources?”
3. Why do you think it's important for us to nurture our creativity?
Because we are created in the image of God and are meant to unfurl his presence within the scope of our personality and gifts. We need to feed and promote our creative sides because the world will be intolerably flat and ugly otherwise. Creativity is, for me, about ushering in beauty, unearthing grace, sharing suffering, and releasing hope and laughter. Creativity can help others see what they can’t see—because they are too busy or inattentive. An artist attends to and echoes what others feel but can’t find always express.
4. Where have you noticed grace recently?
A friend of mine, “C”, has been living beneath the weight of having a son who has recently been diagnosed with a severe mental illness. She has felt shame, hopelessness, and an uphill personal battle with how she and her husband are going to live through it. Another person, “S,” opened up to this woman and shared the story of her personal battle with mental illness. This gift of sharing was the ultimate in grace. “S” was willing to stand naked and unashamed before “C” and it brought incredible hope. “S” gave the grace of transparency, and this can’t be done easily without knowing that you are righteous in Christ. “C” walked away encouraged by “S” and her successes and struggles. Normally, “S” is very secretive about her illness. It was so kind.
5. What are your thoughts on any connections you notice between reading, writing, creativity, and/or grace?
Reading excellent writing (books, stories, essays, poetry) seems to increase my communication skills. There’s a rhythm that I pick up, even if I don’t do it consciously. I notice my writing improves when I read good literature.
I have noticed that when I journal (a form of writing) regularly, I am more creative. Some of the most creative times in my life have come through frequent journaling. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning with crazy ideas and thoughts that lead to some new creative task or purpose. Journaling seems to help me bypass a wall from one side of the brain to the other. It’s very subtle, but I know it when it happens. Journaling explores the deeper parts of me and releases things in me that I didn’t know about myself or the world around me. The same is true of meditation—which more often than not accompanies the journaling.
The courage to attempt to create anything means that you must give yourself grace. Fear of failure can be a big hurdle in any creative person’s life. Perfection is the biggest enemy of producing anything worthwhile. I don’t always give this to myself. I give it to others, but there is a big lie in me that I have to put to death—“Whatever I do must be perfect.” Anything can be better, but allowing grace for imperfection is a gift I need to give myself more often. Grace gives permission to go exploring.
Linda Barrett grew up in Alabama, graduated with a degree in English, married, then
for twenty years zigzagged across the country with her husband and family, finally
settling in Birmingham.
Linda has put her ever-growing faith to work through teaching and mentoring
women and ministering in positions of leadership in the church for most of her adult
life. Embracing grace and her position in Christ through numerous struggles has
magnified her love of God and his people, and she loves to share what she’s learned.
She loves well-crafted stories, meaningful conversations, camping with her husband,
laughter with friends and family, and worship and prayer with like-minded people.
Linda has published several articles and devotionals and co-authored a unique Bible
study for new-moms called: Engaging Motherhood: Heart Preparation for a Holy
Calling. She blogs at: invitationtowonder.wordpress.com. Her current project is a
collection of poetry that will be published later this year.