The psalms are my favorite. Every emotion is represented in those songs and poems, and sometimes all of them at once. This schizophrenic transparency on the page is something I can get behind.
One of the best tricks for writer’s block is to read the words of your favorite author and then adapt them for you own. You can’t write whole books this way, but you can dislodge the block in your brain by borrowing someone else’s process.
It works for me to take the words of the psalmist, to look into his process, and to dislodge the block in my heart with the words and patterns another artist has used before.
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Variations on Psalm 13
How long, O Lord?
Is this the way forever?
How long will you hide your plan from me?
How long must I fight against the doubts in my mind?
How long must I tear up their thorny stems, cutting at my hands, so the thick weeds will not take root?
Must I carry sadness,
like a stone in my pocket or a boulder on my back,
Is this your plan for me?
Is this what you desire?
How long will my enemies have the upper hand?
Their names are
and there seems to be a new one every day.
How long will they claim the victory?
Look at me, please.
My hand is raised, like a child among students.
Please call on me. Give me answers.
Give joy to my face, life to my eyes, a radiance I cannot explain.
Sometimes I think I will die from such weariness.
How can I go on this way?
Those enemies want to pin me down until I cannot move.
They want to sing their battle cry,
dance their victory dance,
wave their flags,
all while they chant,
“We have overcome her. She is ours.”
But I remember you are perfect.
Your plans never fail.
Your love is stronger, greater, always winning.
I can trust in this, even in the dark before dawn.
You have saved me. You have rescued me.
When I remember this, I can sing with my own voice.
I will celebrate.
I will rejoice.
My God has been good to me, even as I wonder.
He has been good, he is good, he will be good again.
My heart will sing, longer and louder,
even if only my God can hear.