Femina Ferox is Latin for Fierce Woman. It’s the name I gave to my blog three years ago when I had bold plans to make bold statements about feminism, art, and faith. I had a whole lot of feelings and a whole lot to say. I wrote eleven posts and promptly gave up. Such is the life of a creative: passion gives way to exhaustion which gives way to apathy. Discipline isn’t enough to fuel creation. You need an outside force. You need, dare I say it, God.
Today, I am re-launching my blog as part of the Patheos Catholic community. Join me as I attempt to create art. Or rather, as I attempt to allow God to create art in me. Allow him to craft me into a femina ferox.
The Agony of Creation
Recently, I was given a major writing assignment. It’s was the type of thing a playwright and aspiring screenwriter like me dreams about: enjoyable, creative and – and here’s the kicker – paid. There aren’t many opportunities for playwrights who want to make money, especially not by doing are actual craft. The best I can normally hope for is something writing adjacent that will give me enough spare time to do what I really want. But this was different.
Obviously, I wanted to do a good job. I wanted to do a fantastic job. My plan was to produce the best bit of script doctoring my producer had ever seen, turn it around more quickly than they had ever seen, and earn myself another contract on the spot. I worked from 9am to 10pm on the first day of the assignment and sent my draft to the executive. I went to bed exhausted but proud.
The next morning, I woke to an email requesting an an immediate conference call. I had gone way off track, completely overboard. They wanted simple edits, not entire new scenes! If they didn’t ask me to rewrite something I shouldn’t have done it. They needed me to pull back right away, stop overdoing it, and stick with the assignment. Humbled, I deleted everything I had done and started over.
Reminds me of my spiritual life.
Only God Can Create
It’s close to impossible to excel at Christianity. By it’s very nature, the more you try to succeed, the father from the path you stray. You can’t impress God. And the more you try, the more obvious your shortcomings are. The entire project of Christianity is a project of humility. It’s putting ego aside and letting God work in you. When it comes to mastering Christianity, the only lesson worth learning, and one that I’ve failed repeatedly at comprehending, is that one cannot save oneself. Any attempt to do so will only result in looking foolish.
Thus, in both art and holiness, there is no definitive path. There is no next step. There is no measure of success and there is no finish line. There is a creative force that guides us. There’s a sense of surrender and an inner voice that whispers “this is good work” or “this is a lie.” This inner voice cannot be controlled by the artist, because it cannot be of the artist.
God is the only creative being that exists. Thus, all creation, no matter how flawed, must have its source in God. If we are allowed to make art, if we’re allowed to make anything, it’s because God has willed it so. If we attempt to force our on mark on anything, we will ruin it.
Creation is a Spiritual Project
So moving forward, I challenge you, as I am challenging myself, to view creation as a spiritual project. It’s a meditation, an attempt to put ego aside and allow God to work through you. It’s the only way anything worthwhile gets done.