A few weeks ago, I reconnected with a really good friend from high school. It was great to see him. Though our lives have changed tremendously, all the things that made us friends nearly two decades ago remained intact.
As conversations with me tend to, ours veered off into a discussion about the church and the frustrations therein. I joked, as I often do:
If had any other marketable skills, I’d do something else.
This friend, instead of laughing at my weak, self deprecating humor, replied, “I’m really surprised you’re not a writer”.
I’m not a writer, but I sometimes play one on the internet.
The new subtitle for my blog came from the underrated 2005 album “Be” by the rapper Common. On the track “They Say” feat. Kayne West and John Legend, Common rhymes the line:
Writing for my life cause I’m scared of a day job.
While I don’t intend to deal with my fear of regular employment here, I do want to dive into the first part of the line.
Writing has saved me. I say that without hyperbole. The last three years, this has been my place of processing the collapse and reconstruction of my world.
I’ve been accused of oversharing. I probably have.
I’ve been accused of narcissism. There’s a little of that. I did use my name for the blog title, after all. But there’s not as much as I’m accused of.
I’ve been accused of dealing with my shit in public instead of in private. That’s dead wrong.
The writing has been my way of processing the work that I’m doing in private, and putting it into what I think are consumable bites. I’ve been diligent about only telling my story and no one else’s.
Both of my last two therapists have strongly encouraged my writing. That’s been a huge help. They’ve both understood the way I process the world.
Writing isn’t just my catharsis, though. In the last few years, it has been my ministry when I haven’t been allowed to serve in a more traditional capacity. Every now and again, someone will send me a text saying how something I wrote, maybe a year or more ago, helped them through a rough time. This has been especially true when I’ve written about depression. I’m humbled and grateful for that.
I’m not a great writer. I know great writers. I’m friends with great writers. I’m married to a pretty great writer.
I’m a good writer. I’m a better speaker… I think. I don’t know. I haven’t done it in quite awhile.
I like to write though, and writing is clearly my art form. It’s my creative outlet and my means of interpreting what’s going on in the world.
I don’t know how to classify my writing, which I think has been problematic for me at times. Do I write thinkpieces? Commentary? Biography? Am I a spiritual writer? Maybe I’m just a run-of-the-mill blogger.
If I’m honest, I would love for writing to be a bigger part of my life. I’ve gotten published in a couple of small publications. That’s fun and I’m certainly better when I have an editor! Sometimes that’s constricting though.
When I started my Patreon page, it was one of the most vulnerable moments of my life. Basically asking people to pay me to write was as scary a thing as I could imagine. It’s been humbling too. After an initial wave of interest, things tapered off. And I’ve lost supporters. That’s hard. I’m grateful for those who have stuck around, but being who I am, I focus on the losses more than I should.
Writing can also bring out the worst in me. I have a fair number of friends who have written books or gotten published in larger publications. I envy those things. I wish I didn’t. I want my friends to do well. I love reading my friends’ work! A friend recently had a book published. I’ve never been happier to pre-order a book n my life!
But those moments make me feel deficient. It makes me feel like I haven’t honed my craft enough. Or maybe I’m just not that good. And then the self doubt creeps in. Then I spend hours in the fetal position.
I’m better at not dwelling there than I used to be.
This is the third year I’ve contemplated doing NaNoWriMo. The first two I started and fizzled out. This year, having seriously dealt with my issues of self delusion, I didn’t really jump in.
I’d love to do more long form writing. I have a project that I’m working on. It’s coming slower than I’d like, but I do like how it’s shaping up.
The thing I try to keep in mind is that writers write. They write every day. They write shitty first drafts, as Anne Lamott says. They write whether they have an audience or not. I have this week off of work, so I’m dedicating more time to writing.
At the end of the day, I’m writing for myself. I’m writing because I get a backlog of thoughts and I feel more clear when I purge some. I’m writing because often in the process, I discover what I actually believe. I’m writing because other than gardening, it is the thing that makes me feel most like myself. I’m writing because I don’t know what else to do with my hands.
But I guess I’m writing for you too. At the real end of the day I want to be known. I want to be understood. I want people to have a peek under the hood. And, if I’m completely honest, I want to be loved. There’s an intimacy that comes from writing because I write with my heart on my sleeve. I don’t take well to being silenced or censored. It feels like an attempt to negate who I am.
So maybe I’m writing for us. Because at the endiest ending of the end of the day, I want community. I believe it’s the only thing that will save us. I’m contributing what I have to contribute to the greater good and I hope you will as well.
So maybe I should change the subtitle to writing for our lives.
Too much work.