Writing as Exorcism: Casting Out Ideas



I was raised in the Pentecostal church. I recall an incident in which my congregation was visiting another on the outskirts of Chicago. Evangelist Jackson had just delivered a fiery sermon and the people were whipped into a frenzy as the Holy Spirit swept through. Elder Walker was asked to pray for every person in the sanctuary. Folks were speaking in tongues and crying out; spiritual shackles were being broken.

Do you remember the skit on Sesame Street where there was a child in each quadrant of the screen? Three of them would be doing the same thing, while the other was doing his own thing. Well, there was a dude sitting calmly and quietly on the back row who seemed out of place. He was the husband of one of the sisters of that church. While she was dancing in the Spirit, he sat there solemnly, with his head down.

Elder Walker called him forward to the prayer line. When he asked if he could pray for him, the man said yes, but the unclean entity inside him manifested and announced that it had other plans…

Though that’s a true story, and, as scary as it sounds, has little to do with the type of exorcism of which I am speaking. I am talking about the need to get the ideas (not demons) out of our imaginations and banishing them to paper.

I have my alarm set for 0700 (that’s 7am for you civilian types! LOL!) on weekdays. The Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” blares when it’s time to get up. The funny thing is, I’m usually already up.

Let it be said that I am NOT a morning person. However, after 18 years in a house with a mother who didn’t believe in that unicorn called Sleeping In, I was a shoo-in for the military, which pimped that notion to the Nth degree. Now, I find myself sleeping very few hours, waking up with the expectation of a kid at Christmas.

But then, I am a big kid. And every day that God grants me to see is just as good as Christmas. The gift is the talent with which I’ve been blessed.

Sometimes, that blessing seems like a curse. Apart from the silver lining, the dark, puffy part of the cloud is that everything else in my day seems like a distraction. Juggling as we adults do leaves little time for creative outlets that can easily impinge on sleep and other responsibilities.

But the need to exorcise the barrage of ideas puts me in a constant tailspin.

So, what ever happened to the guy with the red, glowing eyes and guttural voice standing reluctantly in the prayer line? His voice was silenced by Elder Walker. He stood, hunched forward as if ready to pounce, seething and breathing like a large, wild beast. As Walker was about to anoint him, the man–whose demon already vowed that it wasn’t coming out–bolted from the church in a dead run to goodness-knows-where. Seems he wasn’t down to submit to exorcism.

But I am. I’ve got to commit to the process daily, lest I run from my destiny as a storyteller.

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