Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Salt Mine Writing

Growing up, if Boundaries had showed up on our doorstep, barged through the door, ransacked our fridge, settled on Doritos from the pantry and plopped down on our couch flashing a peace sign I think I’d have said, “Who on earth do you think you are?” (I think it would be pretty funny if Boundaries did that--quite contradictory of his name.)

Boundaries and I had never met.

Today, I see how imperative it is that I invite the Doritos loving friend in my home once in awhile, so I get a good look whether or not I’m well enough acquainted with Boundaries.

The writing life is like salt mining. We unearth salt every time we slap words on a page. We use our gifts. But in this, we can bury ourselves into deep and dark caverns, potentially cutting ourselves off from those who love us and from needed sunlight. We can tunnel so far into our novels, our essays, and/or our non-fiction inspirational that we lose sight of those waiting for us above ground. Put simply, we risk getting addicted to salt and forgetting our roles in relationships.

Here’s where my old friend comes in. We need to make sure to invite him to work with us. Boundaries needs an open invitation to descend into the damp, wet, musing earth with us. We must be willing to mine salt with Boundaries as a co-miner. We need to remember that writing, though it pulses within our being, makes us lift the covers off our goosepimply legs in the morning, and haunts us as we are driving, showering and sleeping and every other inconvenient time to jot down a note, writing is not life.

Writing is not life.

We don’t live in salt mines, we live above ground where social skills are a necessity and many of us have kids with sticky fingers that need wiping and small little torsos that crave a fat hug. Some of us also have spouses that would like us to get a little more “salty” with them, if you catch my drift.

We are called to mine. Salt mine writing is a calling. We don’t need to dismiss that or skip about the earth avoiding the deep. We can own it. But in owning it, let’s not lose sight of the surface, of those wanting us to ascend back up from the depths from time to time, back up and into their arms.

I have a great deal of respect for how Nathan Bransford addressed a similar topic in a post titled, Ten Commandments of a Happy Writer. A must read.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp a put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

*photos by flickr
**I got to go in a salt mine as a wee one in Austria
“Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!” Psalm 90:12 (Message)


  1. What a great writer visual ... emerging from the caverns of a mine. So true, it does feel like that, doesn't it? So much of the writing life comes down to balance. Keeping all our responsibilities on an even keel. We slip every now and then and fall off into that mine. I think that just goes with the writer territory, but we always seem to emerge happier for it, too :)

  2. What a great analogy and a great reminder. It is so easy to get preoccupied with our WIP. I can really appreciate your line about how writing "haunts us as we drive, shower, and sleep." But we have to emerge from the mine because where else are we going to find those "best-seller" ideas. Only real life can supply that!

  3. Hey, me too! I went as a teen! What I remember most was this great slide... and an unground lake we had to ride a boat across.

    This is a great analogy! It's important never to lose sight of the sky.

  4. I appreciate this post! My struggle is the opposite, though. I have to fight to keep prioritizing my writing. The real world is all TOO real. :-)

  5. Ten Commandments of a healthy writer, sounds like my dose of medicine this morning.

    I've been in the mines non stop for months, and my loved ones are getting antsy. Their support has evolved and they are being to understand my drive, but they still need me.

    Thanks Wendy for slapping me in my place, a person with drive is great but- writing is not life.

  6. No, you are right. Writing is not life. But it is (for me) a source of joy and inspiration within my life. That elusive balance...

  7. Balance. . .it is so hard to find it some days. Thank you for the analogy. I needed to read it today.

  8. great post, wendy. and such a good reminder. i love that verse, too. i'm currently working on a training for boundaries that i'm to present as part of my new job (uh, yes...looking at another move to california! this is why i've been absent on blogger really). i might start with a little anecdote or something like that. thanks for the idea!

    The Character Therapist

  9. You and I must be on the same wavelength. I was without communications for the last four days and at first, I was very stressed about it. Then, I prayed "what do I need to learn from this?" What was God trying to tell me?

    It's easy to get so emotionally involved with writing, that it edges above my priorities--my husband and children.

    Thanks for putting the feelings I've had into words. It's good to have perspective.

    Oh, love the look of your blog! And it's time to go get "salty"!! Ha!

  10. Well said. I would have felt less guilty reading it in December ;) LOL.

  11. I have those commandments posted by my computer. I look at them whenever my daughter says I need you.

  12. Great analogy that us writers need to be reminded of many times as it is easy to get stuck down in the salt mines!

  13. Wonderful post. I often feel like I'm not as productive as I need to be, but at the same time, I give the hugs, wipe the fingers, and am available to friends and family. Today, I'm going to cut myself some slack. :]

  14. Loved the pics and the analogy Wendy! Such a great post! Of course, I just got the urge to eat Doritos. :D

  15. Whoa! What an absolutely beautiful post, Wendy! I love this analogy. And I love your simple line: writing is not life.

    What an excellent reminder. When you figure out the key to this delicate balance, can you email me and let me know how I can do this? :)

    Love you, friend!

  16. Thank you for that especially needed slap on the hand! I loved your analogy! It's so easy to dig down deep and stay there! But I don't want to miss out on all of the beauty up above!

  17. P.S. Thought I was on the wrong blog for a minute! You threw me off with the new blog design! But it's very lovely!

  18. Joanne, I certainly do get a peace from writing. And about slipping, sometimes I am running full speed (or zipping down one of those slides) to get down to the salt.

    Ava, So true. Real life provides the best kind of inspiration.

    Kristen, Sky = good. I remember the funky outfits my family donned. Green and mint color. Nice! With little caps I should add.

    Rosslyn, I'm coming over. Not to distract you, but just for fun.

    Tamika, Ouch. Are you hurt? Didn't mean to slap. But I'm glad you got a takeaway.

    Tess, Here's to joy and inspiration and SALT!

    Get Real Girl, Glad you read it today. I need to read it every morning. I write these posts for me as much as for everyone else. Push to MOVE. URL = thoughtsthatmove

    Jeannie, Moves are huge and often throw life out of whack. Glad to see you on here today. Hope you got something on here you can use. :)

    Jill, I'm all about getting salty. For that my husband is grateful. :D :D Glad you are learning from God. As an intense person, I can submerge into writing world and forget there even is a surface sometimes.

    T.Anne, Good. I was going for the guilt. It worked. :D

    Patti, I just thought they were so right on when I read them. A good pass along.

    Donna, Tis true. We can get stuck down there, can't we! Nice add.

    Tara, Slack is good. The whole thing gets confusing to me sometimes. That's why I'm glad to know Boundaries and I'm also glad he likes Doritos.

    Ellie, I hope you did. Cool Ranch!

    Katie, I was kind of hoping you had the key! I love you, too!

    Jody, I've been doing some slappin' today without meaning to. If it makes everyone feel better I'm Brad Pitt from Fight Club in this or is it Edward Norton? Anyhoo...the point is, I wrote this for myself more than anyone else. There really is so much beauty in relationships, isn't there?

    I want to add, I never mean for my posts to come off harsh or telling. I'm a mess. Really, I am. I write to weed through it all and you all are kind enough to read as I bushwack through this life. All too often I hear Paul's verses where he wanted to do what is right, but struggled, in my head.

    Such a training ground, this life. I'm passionate about writing. I'm more passionate about relationships and that is hard to write b/c I don't always show it.

    Thanks for being here, reading there and sending love out everywhere. Beatles, anyone?

    ~ Wendy

  19. Hi Wendy-
    Belated happy birthday!
    I think boundaries got lost in my nieghborhood growing up and never quite even made to our front door either. That is where therapy came in for me! Without boundaries, life becomes lopsided. This past year, the journey of writing has been just as you said for me. I am grateful I feel like I am getting the hang of balance this uncertain and crazy life as a writer.
    Thank you for sharing this!

  20. Great analogy. It made me a little sad, though. My brother opened a Christian Book/Gift store under the name of 'Salt Mine'. He had to shut it down a couple of months ago. The name of the store was chosen for the same reasons you blog about here.

  21. Hi Wendy,

    Great post, and so true. That's one reason I still love my "day job": dealing with young children, one cannot probe the depths until day is done. I must walk among them; they demand no less. And it's good for me to do feeds me.

    God bless you today.

  22. WOW! One of the best and most balanced descriptions of writing I've ever seen! I'm emailing this post to myself to keep. (But I have no intention of letting my husband see it. ;D )

  23. Excellent anthology! Did you change your blog style? I like it!

  24. Deep thoughts from a great writer.


    Thank you

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