Tag: vocation

interview: aaron belz

Posted by Sarah Schock in creativity, interview, poetry, poets, vocation, writing. 1 Comment

24th July

{an interview with poet and essayist aaron belz, who recently released his third collection of poetry, GLITTER BOMB}

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

I don’t picture anyone reading my poetry. I have no basis for what happens in that mental picture other than seeing people reading things and, hopefully, enjoying them. Whom I write for is the discouraged person. I just want them to know I’m here for them if they need me. I also write to make myself laugh. It’s the old “you crack yourself up” thing. If I’m my own worst critic, am I not also my own best audience? Live readings are a … Read More »

a worker’s prayer: van gogh on sight

17th July

When it’s warm outside and the food processing plant doesn’t smell, I sit on the call center steps and drink tea in the sun. Fifteen minutes isn’t much time, but it’s enough to remind me that the world is beautiful and much bigger than my cubicle. I think this is a common struggle with work–to keep perspective day to day–seeing our work, ourselves, our coworkers and clients in light of God’s ultimate beauty and compassion. I often wonder how much place affects our ability to see clearly, if place is part of our faulty vision, or the fault comes wholly from within.

As a visual artist, Van Gogh is very concerned with sight, and he approaches the question of place mainly from two angles. Early in his letters, during an internship in England, Van Gogh writes to his brother Theo, “It is very beautiful … Read More »

interview: shane mccrae

Posted by Sarah Schock in creativity, interview, poetry, poets, vocation, writing. No Comments

11th July

{an interview with poet shane mccrae, whose newest collection, FORGIVENESS FORGIVENESS, will be published by factory hollow press next month. pre-order it here}

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

I don’t know that I have an ideal reader—which, I know, isn’t an answer to the question, but is maybe parallel to an answer, maybe a way into answering. I’ve always felt a little disingenuous saying that I write for myself, although I do—the problem, I think, is in the word for. It suggests the giving of a gift. I write because I can’t not write, because I wouldn’t know how to be if I didn’t write, and … Read More »

creative luxury: beyond maslow

Posted by Sarah Schock in christian living, creativity, ministry, vocation. No Comments

3rd July

A few months ago my husband, our two kids, and I returned from seven years in China, where we served with Food for the Hungry. Soon after landing on U.S. soil, we were given the opportunity to attend a one-week “Debriefing and Renewal” retreat for returning missionaries. The retreat was held at a tucked-away inn in Colorado Springs, surrounded by pines and trails and with a stunning view of Pike’s Peak. There were cozy rooms, fireplaces, big picture windows, hot tubs. It took me most of the week to get over the fact that it was all for us: the beauty of the location, the time to rest, and the chance to share our stories, reflect, and process.

Most precious, though, was that the facilitators were there solely to minister to us. They invited conversation around the themes of paradox—God is … Read More »

a worker’s prayer: faithfulness

31st May

The other night at supper with my parents, I learned that Bill Gaither’s father worked at a factory for thirty years. Then Mom started describing her work at Amana Refrigeration and showing us the exact motions she made every day. She only worked there for a year and a half after high school, until she had enough for a Chevelle and a movie camera, but Grandma worked on the line and then as a inspector for twenty years (while raising nine kids and helping run the farm). When I think of Grandma, I think I should be a lot tougher. I also think about faithfulness. Not that my grandmother or her generation was perfect, but they were more likely to stick with one spouse and one job.

I suppose there are lots of reasons why the twenty- and thirty-somethings of our … Read More »

a worker’s prayer: van gogh: on work and everyday courage

15th May

In an effort to understand life as a writer, I often read artists’ and poets’ letters. This was suggested by my professors in grad school, who thought that Keats could help me complete my MFA in the allotted three years. They were right; without Keats’ elegant descriptions of his own ambition and despair, and the ways he wrote and loved through them, I may have taken five years to write sixty poems, or despaired of finishing altogether.

It seems strange, perhaps, to turn to Keats, an impoverished poet who died of tuberculosis at twenty-six, and Van Gogh, an impoverished painter who committed suicide at thirty-seven, for advice on how to live. I look to them mainly because of their courage. They were both considered failures, but they continued to work with the hope of creating something beautiful. Van Gogh, struggling with … Read More »

breaking through: the sacredness of words

27th March

The preparation is done, the centering of mind and heart by prayer, Bible study, or walking through nature and listening.

I sit down at my brown wooden desk in a dark room. The desk lamp lights only the paper. Everything else is back in the shadows. When I begin to write, my hand moves into the light.

The work of our hands is part of creation, because God’s work continues to be done in the world through human hands. Writers put words together and create sentences and stories, bringing the unspoken into the light and giving it form.

In the shadows I wait, listening until I see an image, hear an echo, or feel a presence. Then I wait for words to come that will root this into my time and place.

As words come, I write them down. When they stop, I set … Read More »

on writing: ego, insecurity, & the life of the beloved

20th March

This past year I wrote a book. I worked hundreds of hours. I wrote at least 14,000 words and cut 7,500 of them. On weekday afternoons I worked while I listened to a babysitter play with my kids on the other side of the house. I spent Saturday mornings curled up on the couch in my pajamas sculpting sentences while my husband and kids were off at playgrounds and the zoo and the beach making memories without me.

I did it because it mattered. Getting those words down on the screen and then moving them and cutting them and blessing them—that holy work of telling a good story—was the work I’ve always longed to do. I gave myself to it, even though it meant sacrificing time with my family.

Sometimes I’m still not sure whether or not those sacrifices were worth … Read More »

writing my way in

13th March

Recently I was asked to visit a senior English class at the school where I teach World Religions.  I was excited to be entering into conversation with students not just as their familiar teacher but as  a ‘real poet.’  But as I was telling students about the writing life, when I was singing the usual song about how hard it is to write, and how I have to drag myself to do it sometimes, a student I knew quite well looked at me half in annoyance and half in genuine curiosity.  He asked, “Then why do you do it?”

My brain sputtered.  No one had asked me that, that directly, in a long time.  I could have gotten dramatic and said because I have no other choice!  It must come from my soul or surely I will perish! Instead I said … Read More »

where i find myself: seasons

17th February

My previous post launched my ongoing series about faith, writing, and what I keep calling (perhaps not very poetically, ironically enough) “the language of place”—specifically, my place, my native state, my home. California.

Well, I realized I might not have quite as good of a hold on my own idea as one would hope when, after I finished “explaining” my topic to someone recently, he said, “So it’s about slang?”

Nah, dude. Not exactly.

But OK then, what is it about? The truth is, not completely knowing is part of why I write. The act of writing is an act of exploration, as is (in my experience) the act of having faith. Not to mention the act of living day to day on the shaky ground and in the smog-laced atmosphere of the Golden State.




Commenting on my last post, in which I … Read More »

resources for faithful practitioners of creativity and creative practitioners of faith...

“walking with kindness” by mark liebenow

What is required of us is to do justice, love kindness,

 and walk humbly with our God. Micah 6:8


I imagine Micah...

“a made thing” by heather caliri

For a long time, I simply felt helpless.

My youth pastor in high school was spiritually abusive to many of us, and he sexually abused...

“the devil you know: rough drafts” by elizabeth jarrett andrew

Poor revision, unfairly maligned due to a quirk of human nature! We beasts prefer prowling on familiar territory, rooting up the same soil with...