Q & A

(Taken from an interview with Jim Harrison, my hands-down favorite writer. I've italicized the last few lines of his answer as there is much there to be pondered. You can take out the word "writer" and insert whatever is appropriate, e.g., "river guide" or "guitar hero" or "stay-at-home-mom." Even "human being" works quite well if you're somewhat undecided.)

Q: Critics have wonderful things to say about you. For example, The Sunday Times (London) has said that "Jim Harrison is a writer with immortality in him." How do you keep such praise from going to your head? What do you consider to be your shortcomings as a writer?

A: I don't have any problem of keeping critical comments from going to my head. Much of my most extreme critical praise comes in France and I don't read French very well, so it's easy. There is no problem in that I've never paid much attention to reviews because by the time they appear I'm already working on something else. It's also very dangerous to base your self-worth as a writer on a media consensus because frequently the media isn't thinking about you at all which would then mean you don't exist. Thinking about your shortcomings as a writer should probably be avoided, as it would be quite paralyzing...I don't worry about that because I'm living the life I chose. (italics mine)


Q: Are you basing your self-worth on a consensus of some kind? It could even be the consensus of one person.

A: (this is where you come in)

Q: Are you living the life you chose? Granted, some days life will choose for you, but for the most part, are you choosing your life?
A: (again, the ball's in your court)

One word of encouragement as you answer: try and keep it grounded. For example, if you answer the first question with something like well, John, I'm living for an audience of one (meaning God), then I believe you're taking the easy way out. It sounds incredibly spiritual; it also sounds like a bumper sticker. The same thing applies to the second question. If you answer with well, John, I'm living the life God chose for me, then again, I'd say you're not wrestling with the question.

These are not questions to answer quickly and then move on...


  1. ...OK

    ...because I respect you so much

    ...am curious as to why Jim Harrison is "hands down" your favorite writer

    ...I've never heard of the guy

    ...but if you like him that much, then I want to learn about him

  2. Q: Are you basing your self-worth on a consensus of some kind? It could even be the consensus of one person.

    A: In all actuality, probably. While I try to be more of a God pleaser than a people pleaser, God knows that He is far less tangible and immediate than my husband, family, and friends. The approval vice is a hard habit to break. I like to think it's crumbling away, bit by bit.

    Q: Are you living the life you chose? Granted, some days life will choose for you, but for the most part, are you choosing your life?
    A: At this point, I'm happy to say that I have leanings in that direction. There is much about my life (most of it, actually) that I cannot control, choose, or change. However, my own attitudes and will are in the process of being refined. I choose to seek God each day--very imperfectly and probably lacking in so many ways. But the mustard seed is there. And because it's there--He guides me. Is His will my own? No, because I'm a shitty Christian. But...I know that. And He still loves me.

  3. A 4:06am posting - good Lord! No wonder I can visualize the scowl beneath your words. Ok, I'll go off now a wrestle with these questions, but only because YOU asked me to...

  4. Mmm, self-worth based on consensus. I don't think so; and while this seems to have some sense of nobility, does that mean that I am inconsiderate and shallow?

    Living the life I chose? Gosh, there is an entire element of reaction to my day. While I love my job (provides well, challenging), I have to deal with people who enjoy building their little kingdoms, challenging any sense of decorum that I might have; all within 24 hours of great worship and calling to God as my friend and savior. Are they choosing to be childish or am I choosing to be impatient?

  5. Alright, I'm going to try this year and be a little better at responding to your comments, emphasis on the word "try."

    Wes, I responded to your earlier with the scoop on Harrison.

    Rock on, sister. Step by step. Just know I've got a shitty Xn bumper sticker on my '97 Stratus and there's room on the running boards.

    Rich, a scowl was there, but it was a hearty one. Thanks for taking the time to chime.

    Lynn, welcome to the riff-raff. Glad to have you visiting. There's always that tension between listening to your own voice and being a horse's ass. I have much more experience in the latter, but I'm learning a little more about the former. I'm betting we're all building little kingdoms; the question may be "what does yours look like?"

  6. I hate deep questions :) Not really but they deserve lots of thought. deep thought. and time.

    That's why sometimes I can't do a formal Bible study: How do you think blah blah blah...I begin feeling stressed about my answer and wondering if I've wrestled long enough to get an acceptable answer before it's time for "Day 2"! I leave so many of those ding dang things BLANK!

    BUT...because you've been gracious enough to say "don't answer quickly" and I get plenty o' wrastlin' time :)...I will ponder these during my time alone today...so thank you and I'll get back to you!

  7. Living the life I choose? Hmmm... If left to my own vices (which are considerable) and allowed to live the life I would choose would be disasterous, I suspect. So, no, I am not living the life I would choose. I want better, but don't have enough outside-of-myself perspective to know what better is. Perhaps this is where God informs me? :)

  8. So, Wendy, what if, when God informs you, and I believe he does, he says "you choose"?

    Just wonderin'...

  9. Okay...I'm ready :)

    I unfortunately (well, not unfortunately b/c then I wouldn't be who I am..so scratch that)...but I learned very young if I based my self worth on a consensus I'd be left highly disappointed...I therefore knew that my worth came from loving myself and allowing Him to love me.

    Am I living the life I chose? A very passionate YES! Every moment, every minute...good bad and ugly...I love it and I chose it!

  10. You ask some dangerous deep questions son!

    But i wonder if anyone would publicly admit that they've been basing their self worth on a public consensus. Denial is river that runs deep and long...

    As for question #2 the calvinist in me wants to say that i lead the God chose. But my Arminist side says that of course im leading the life i chose, but with the help of the Holy Spirit.

    Or perhaps i think too much... Either way, thanks for asking the questions and thanks for sharing with your readers your favorite author. Another author to add to my list of must reads!

  11. Wow, deep questions indeed, John, but would expect no less.

    Q: Are you basing your self-worth on a consensus of some kind? It could even be the consensus of one person.

    A. At one time, I would have had to say self-worth revolved around what others thought of me and I'd many times find myself on a treadmill seeking to fit the wishes of another. Both age (64 yrs young) and increasing maturity has me leaning more on the Lord for the answers in that dimension. Sure I hear what others say but today I weigh it more carefully.

    Q: Are you living the life you chose? Granted, some days life will choose for you, but for the most part, are you choosing your life?
    A: For the most part, I like my life as it is yet look to the day where I'll have more freedom to pursue what I believe are God given dreams i.e. visit international students that I've worked with in their countries.

    Good questions... Thanks for helping me prime the pump.

  12. John - great question - and I think God informs us in multiple ways. So, when He says, "you choose" (which I believe He often does) there are still things in place that inform me - namely Scripture, tradition, experience and reason (yeah, an Arminist - this is called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, a perfectly awful name for a stellar idea). SO - even my choice (and I do not rely heavily on my reason, believe me) is influenced by all these things - whether consciously or through the ongoing transformation that the Spirit is doing within me so that I can choose UNconciously. It'd be great if I was at the point where choosing wasn't a lot of work, but I'm honestly not.

    LOVE my Calvin & Hobbs too.