On Mother Teresa and faith…

When you are a freelance writer (for hire) the assignments come to you. Maybe you have to go out and troll for them a little, dangle a pitch or two here and there. But once you’re in — as long as you continue to deliver quality work, on time and on budget — the work flows to you. You feel the most bereft of time and sleep. Deadlines are always too short, Rewrites are always too long and the most expendable item in the equation is your SLEEP. So it goes.

However, the day you decide you are a freelance writer, working on your passion project (the best idea you’ve ever had)… on spec… what you need most is FAITH.
Faith that you have talent… that your work is good. That you will actually finish this dumb project (whose idea was this anyway?) before the wolf sniffs out that you’re working on spec, makes it to your door… steals your identity and gobbles up all your cash. You need faith that someone out there will recognize your worth. And, if you’re like me, you need to know you’re not wasting your time. This level-five faith in something you can’t see, touch, taste or verify and it’s very, VERY difficult to achieve on a daily basis… while trying to pull a story out of your… hat.
I’m not talking about passing fancy faith. I mean the kind of faith that must sustain you through a first draft, multiple revisions, submission to colleagues, friends and family to read and tear apart. The kind of faith that must get you through listening to what they have to say. And then, the commercial grade, industrial, Kevlar-coated faith that you will need to try to market your little creation to the world.

The harsh reality is that it’s very easy to lose faith in yourself and in the system. And, for those of you with me in the lagging faith department, we’re not alone. Turns out Mother Teresa (the absolute PILLAR of faith, right?) had bouts with this very issue.

In excerpts from COME BE MY LIGHT, The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta (Doubleday 9/4/07). She wrote in an undated letter: “I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words; thoughts that crowd in my heart; make me suffer untold agony.” (untold agony… that’s what I’m talking about!)
In 1956, she wrote: “Such deep longing for God and … repulsed empty no faith no love no zeal. … Heaven means nothing pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything.”
Mother Teresa acknowledged the apparent contradiction with per public persona, describing her ever-present smile as “a mask” or “a cloak that covers everything.” She wrote in 1959: “What do I labour for? If there be no God — there can be no soul — if there is no Soul then Jesus You also are not true.”
Okay, for reals that’s some heavy stuff. And… I can relate.
I’m not saying writers are saints… (though I find most of us are pretty good people). I’m not comparing mine (or any writer’s words to the accomplishments of Mother Teresa).
What I am saying is this: if you want (or possibly NEED) to express yourself through the written word you are going to need to mine deep down and find a Saintly-sized share of Faith, and then some, to get you through this process. Which is why I believe that writers need to stick together.

About Sheryl Scarborough

For MONEY I have written: TV series, cartoons, comic books, graphic novels, magazine articles, Business Plans, Direct Music Marketing letters (as Mariah Carey, MC Hammer and others), Corporate Newsletters, Mens Style (online) Magazine (as managing editor),screenplays (well, okay so not so much about the money there) and Restaurant Reviews (for free food!) Now… I’m writing for love and what I LOVE are young adult mystery novels.

On Writing

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