My primary sabbatical goal was to get a good start on writing a novel. Actually, I had foolishly hoped to write an entire novel, but that was before I realized what a different beast writing fiction is. Some novelists take years to write one novel, and I can see why.
I understood I had to approach the work “bird by bird,” or chunk by chunk. What I did not foresee was how physically exhausting writing fiction is. After, say, spending a few hours writing a scene, I would save my work, stand up, and stagger to the couch where I promptly fell asleep for ten minutes. After talking about writing in my sermon last Sunday, a man who writes for a living came up to me afterwards and we traded war stories. He confirmed how tiring scene-writing is, and compared his job to taking the SATs everyday.
We also talked about the solitary nature of writing. I enjoyed writing fiction – especially the moments when the writing flowed, and I was completely absorbed in it. Especially when I surmounted a challenging stretch, and found my way out of feeling stuck. Writing ignites my soul and makes me feel alive!
Could I write solely for a living? Hell’s NO! I wondered about that, at the outset of sabbatical, and it was a glorious affirmation to discover how much more I love the life of MINISTRY – how everyday is different, but especially how much I get to interact with people, face to face, everyday.
Engaging the imagination is exciting, but it’s fraught with loneliness. I love my job, and can’t imagine a finer place to work, a finer church to serve than Neighborhood UU Church. Thanks everyone, for welcoming me back, because I sure am glad to BE back.
Rev. Hannah Petrie