“What do you love about the craft? What do you hate? What’re you struggling with, when it comes to this challenge? Write about it, all of it. Channel your inner Lammott or Pressfield or Dillard. Share your passion, your agony, your love for writing. Maybe it’ll inspire you to write even more.”
I’ve been writing a long time.
I’ve only started (sort of) seriously writing for an audience in the last few years. My introduction to the world of writing for fun and for self expression came December 2001, when I was gifted with a sort of pea-soup-green, faux snakeskin journal from Gramma and Poppa Hall. I know I had journals before when I was even younger, but this was the first time I discernibly began to write consistently. I wrote about all the riveting things you can imagine coming from a ten-year-old: the things I did in a day, the boys I liked (a habit that’s been hard to break), how I wanted to fight my sisters, how much I liked cats.
I also wrote down my prayers. Journaling became my medium for talking with Jesus about things–everything. It’s not like I felt like I couldn’t talk to him with my mouth, but somehow writing to Him felt more intimate and personal. No one else had to hear what I was thinking or feeling, and there was this relief that washed down over me. When I wrote, I mattered. When I wrote, I was heard. When I wrote, I could revisit the same topics obsessive compulsively without bothering anyone.
I didn’t know that at ten, however; I just knew that I felt better when I had my glitter gel pens and wrote out the depth of my feelings. I carried that habit well into my college years, and my consistency with journaling can more or less be the measuring stick for how things are between me and Jesus. All the periods of my life where I’ve “fallen off the wagon”, my entries are few and far between because I don’t want to evaluate my heart and actions with Him. It’s my version of ignoring Him, hiding from Him or running away for Him. (Real talk, my journal now is looking a bit more spare that I want to admit, which says a lot about where I’ve been at lately.)
Writing for me has almost always been an expression of what is and how I see things to be; I’m a writer in the sense that I create alternate universes or characters with my words. That’s actually quite difficult for me. When I think of a writer, I think of someone creating new content or self help authors or something, and I feel like everything about my writing doesn’t fall into either category. I know that’s an awfully narrow description that comes up short to what it means to be a writer, but that’s where I feel most days.
Writing is a tool for me to understand myself, to process my emotions, to grow. I need it to know myself and be known by others. I think that’s part of the reason I spend so much time prefacing everything I write–my writing is me. When you read my words on the screen or on the page, you know me. In recent years the idea of actually being known at my most vulnerable makes my skin crawl and I feel like it gives people too much power to misunderstand me or label me. That’s why I’ve been having such a time trying to keep up this blog, honestly.
But I have to write. Maybe not everyone does, because we’re all wonderfully different and have different specific needs. I need writing. For me, I need to be known. I need to be honest. I need to trust that others can see me and know me and still love and accept me, not just the perfect crafted, well lit, sunshine I try to live in constantly. Jesus has done that for me, and it may be some days that He is the only one who does, but there are others that know the value of being known and loved anyway and freely seek to give it. It’s my hope that I can give that to others too, especially by taking time to see their souls that they’re taking time to share with the world through their words.