In the comments to her last post, L. L. Barkat (over at Seedlings in Stone), asked me some questions about me as a writer. I tried to answer her in the comments, but my response kept getting long, beyond what I wanted to leave there. So now it’s here, in all it’s gargantuan glory ;).
The questions: What has that [writing] meant for you? What would you like it to mean? And how are you going about it?
I’ll answer the last one first, because it’s the easiest. Right now, I’m going about it by writing. I try to write everyday, but it doesn’t always work out, what with the full-time job, a few directees, and lots of people around (that includes you, bloggy friends!) who I care about and want to attend to.
I’m starting really slow. My goal is to write at least 30 minutes every day, with an overall goal of 200-250 hours this year (and I know, that doesn’t quite add up right). It’s so slow both because of my other commitments, but also because writing has been a sensitive spot in me for years. I know I at least mentioned it before, so I’ll be brief now. Basically, I’ve always wanted to be a writer but ended up wanting it so badly that it got all twisted up inside of me. I couldn’t write with any thought of publication or even some sort of audience, because I was afraid I’d fail and then I’d have lost one of the most important and solid dreams of my life. For years, it was easier to not succeed because I didn’t try than because I tried and wasn’t good enough.
I got to the point, though, where two things happened. First, I realized that I needed to try. Something in me needs to work at this, to pursue this. I know that I can write well, and I want to give God the chance to use that however he chooses. Secondly, I came to a point where not writing what was in my heart was more painful than writing and failing. Even if it only ends up being for me or for those close to me, I think the words are God’s, and they want out!
I’ve wanted to do more than just write. I thought about going to Mt. Hermon (my fingers just tried to write, Mt. Hermione…too much Harry Potter?). I thought about some conferences closer to home, and even some workshops, but I feel God holding me back. I feel like this is sacred time. I’m learning to be comfortable with God and the words and to become accustomed to my writer’s voice. I’m finding confidence and a foundation there, before I even expose myself and the words to criticism, or even just outside comment. There will be a time for that, I feel sure. But now is not it. And so I write.
What has writing meant for me? Well, I think that’s partially answered in what I just said as well as in that post I linked to before. It has held so much–the potential to have a voice and to have that voice validated by people outside my immediate circle, the art that I always wanted and never thought I had in me, a way to get all of the characters who wander around in my head out where others could know them, too. It’s held some ugly things, too, like the chance to be better than others, to rise above people who have hurt me, to show people that I do make sense after all. There’s been a sense of joy, too. I want to help people learn the way that I’ve always learned best, through stories (be they true or false). I want to give others a piece of myself and see that help them grow, or change, or learn, or love better. I want to help them feel seen and loved and learn to do the same for others.
What do I hope it will mean in the future? I feel like I need to talk about what it means now before I go there. Right now, writing is the hardest work I do all day. It’s harder for me to make myself sit down and write than it is to make me work on the budget which, trust me, is really saying something. But writing is like running right now–once I sit down and do it, it often contains some of the best moments of my day. When I write, I feel like I’m in tune with myself and with God. I’m finding myself more and more confident in my voice and my flow. When I sit down with Dave at the end of my day and think of my best moment and my worst, writing is often up there on the “best” list (usually just below some interaction with a person and just above the feeling I get right after I run).
In the future…wow, I’m scared to speak here. Part of it is that I honestly don’t know. The other part is that I don’t want to put limits on what I think God can do with this. So this is a list of all the things I’ve thought the writing could mean to me in the future. I’d like to make part of my living writing, but I don’t ever want to stop doing spiritual direction or some sort of work with people that’s face to face. I’m open to copywriting or something like that for a living while I do my writing on the side, but I’m don’t have a lot of peace about pursuing that right now. I’d love to write about some of the formation issues that are closest to my heart, but those aren’t the pieces that have been foremost in my work lately. Mostly, I’d love to write fiction and memoir and have that and spiritual direction produce something to contribute to our income.
Overall, I want my writing to somehow facilitate soul-work in the people who read it. I know that the books and other pieces that I’ve loved over the years have somehow done that and I want to offer it to others. I want to help people see more and clearer than they’ve seen before. I want to help them know love.
I think I may have only tapped the tip of the iceberg here…there’s so much in my heart and my mind about writing and myself as a writer. But this is at least a good beginning. Thanks for asking!