From the Editor

June 4, 2003

This spring, I had the opportunity to listen to two great writers when they visited campus. Kathleen Norris is the best-selling author of Amazing Grace, Dakota and The Cloister Walk, books that have been on my bedside table for years. She was a visiting guest author at Art & Soul, Baylor's spring religious faith and literary art festival. Later, I had a personal visit with Horton Foote, the renowned American playwright (see interview on page 34). Both shared wisdom and insight that come only from years of persevering at their craft, and I soaked up every word. 
Norris reminded us that as writers, we always lie to ourselves in the first draft. She described a poem she wrote that took three years to finish, in large part because she finally realized "I had told a lie in the poem. And then I had to look deeper into another lie." Practice patience in your writing, she said. Learn "to wait, attentively. If you rush to finish the poem, you can kill it." 
Back at my desk a few days later, I read through Dawn McMullan's cover story on Dr. M. David Rudd's suicidology research. A statistic she included jumped off the page at me: In the past three decades, the number of people ages 15 to 24 who have committed suicide has tripled. More than a disturbing trend, it strikes at the very heart of our nation's future. Dr. Rudd's research on why America's young people are killing themselves is explored in "Matters of life & death," beginning on page 42.
As a writer and mother of three sons, it struck me that there might be a connection between Dr. Rudd's research and Norris' advice. Nothing requires more creativity than the rearing of children. As parents, we are given these inestimable gifts and the responsibility to nurture them into the people God intends them to be. Along the way, we make many errors. We discover -- often years after the fact -- the "lies" about good parenting we perpetrated, either because we inherited them from our parents or developed them on our own. Especially with first children, it seems, the error is in expecting too much. Birth-order studies show that the first child often is a Type-A personality, a high achiever, driven and serious. 
Maybe as parents we need to slow down and learn to "wait attentively," as Norris says of her creative process. It's a lot of pressure to put on a young person's shoulders, this urgency to be involved in all things and to do all things well. I am reminded of the saying: "God isn't finished with me yet." If it brings us comfort to believe that for ourselves, surely we need to assure our children of the same.
If we rush to finish the child, I fear we can do much harm.

Work in progress,

Vicki Marsh Kabat