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Janice Crow- “Writing When the Well Runs Dry”

March 2024

Writing When the Well Runs Dry

Back in the eighties, there was a popular movie called “Baby Boom”.  Diane Keaton played a New Yorker, determined to leave the city behind and raise her newly acquired daughter on a huge farm in the New England countryside.  She had no clue how to navigate life in the country, single motherhood, and a money pit of a house.  After paying a fortune for a new roof, and replacing a massive furnace and with savings nearly gone, she discovers she has no water.  She calls out the handyman who tells her (in his best Pepperidge Farm brogue) that the well has run dry.  So she responds, “Oh…is that all?” and proceeds to tell him that there is a hose around back and to just fill it up.   He breaks into fits of laughter and says, “Fill it up?  Lady, yer out of water. Yer gonna have to tap into the county line and that’s three miles down the road.”  Tension rising, she informs him she’s almost out of money and inquires if it’s going to be expensive.  He says, “Yep”, and she ventures, tension rising,  “Do you know how much approximately?”   “Nope”, he follows.  “GUESS!”, she snaps.   “Oh, five, six thousand dollars. Maybe more.”

His answer launched her into one of the most hilarious and memorable meltdowns in movie history when she screeches,   “I’m not prepared for wells that run dry!  I just want to turn on the faucet and have water.  I DON’T CARE where it’s coming from!”   Then she screams, “ANOTHER SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS!!”,  as she keels over.   It was all very entertaining and makes me laugh even today.

But seriously, what DO you do when the well runs dry?  I’m a small-town girl who’s always had city water.   I don’t know the first thing about wells,  so I had to ask the experts.  How can you tell your well is running dry?  First, they tell me you can detect that your well is about to run dry if the tap water looks murky or muddy.  There will be a change in the taste of the water and there may be air coming through the system causing the spigots to sputter.  At this point, you should check the depth of your well.

Sometimes you may only need to adjust the placement of the water pump.  In most wells these days the pump is submerged under the water, but if the water level sinks down below the pump level, the pump will suck air instead of water.  You need to have someone who knows what they’re doing lower the pump to fix the problem.

If the well has been around a long time, the amount of water will decrease because of sediment and mineral scale build-up.  Here is where something called “hydrofracking” comes in. They tell me that hydrofracking is a technique that injects high-pressured water into the depths of your well to open up fractures in the surrounding rock to improve the flow. You can also have your well deepened, they say, and the deeper the well goes the more likely new fractures containing water will be found.  There are times, though, when you just need to dig a new well.

If you are one of my readers who labors under the delusion that I have an inexhaustible supply of stories and self-deprecating humor to somehow weave into a Biblical principle, I’m sorry to disappoint you. And as a songwriter, I can tell you there are times when song ideas are as scarce as the legendary dodo bird. Vanished.  Sometimes, no matter how hard I try, that jolt of inspiration I long for is nowhere to be found.  Like Diane Keaton’s character, I just want inspiration and I don’t care where it comes from. It’s in those moments I begin to question my calling, wonder what I’m here for, and teeter on the precipice of despair.

It never occurred to me that the water of inspiration can be hindered or stop flowing altogether and there are telltale signs it’s happening.  First, everything begins to look cloudy.  Everything is wrong and nothing is right.  The whole world seems dark and ugly. Then my own words leave a bad taste in my mouth.  I’ve gone from speaking love, hope, and joy to hopelessness and defeat.  I’ve allowed my spiritual pipes to be filled with the devil’s hot air and the next thing I know I’m sputtering and spewing nonsense instead of flowing grace like a river.  When that happens, is it time to re-submerge and immerse myself in God’s word?  Probably.

Even as a long-time Christian, I’m not immune to the sediment and gunk that wants to build up. A little hurt here, a little bitterness there, a little discontent, and soon the pipes seem hopelessly clogged.  I don’t enjoy those times when the high pressure is applied to the stony parts of my heart,  but God knows my potential and that there is more in me than I’m giving and He is anxious to draw it out.  Maybe I’m just too shallow and need to deepen my walk with the Lord.

It’s possible, too, that the location is wrong.  The old well served its purpose, but I just may need to dig a new well.   I don’t know.  I ponder all this in an effort to get the waters flowing again.  In the meantime, I’ll sing this timeless old hymn:

“Come, thou fount of every blessing

tune my heart to sing thy grace;

Streams of mercy, never  ceasing,

call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet,

sung by flaming tongues above.

Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,

mount of thy redeeming love.”


Staff writer Janice Crow – Singer – Songwriter

Janice Crow

Janice Crow is an accomplished singer/songwriter.
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