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On the gift of writing

We are a week into my list of 40 resolutions. It’s been an interesting adventure. I find each morning, I am reflecting on one or two resolutions and how in order to grow in these things this year, I must be intentional. I also find that as the evening winds down, I’m thinking about what I need to do before sleeping. I can’t say that I’ve kept these resolutions for the first seven days of 2014, however that was never the goal. I knew I’d fail – and likely on the first day! But growth isn’t about meeting a goal once, but about a life transforming over time demonstrating God’s work in us.

So I thought, a week into this adventure is a good time to stop and reflect on how it’s going, taking stock and noticing what God is already doing, and where I might need to let him work. Tonight, I found myself wanting to tackle the whole list, but this blog post has morphed into a reflection on writing. Or more, the gift of writing.

I am (re)discovering my gift and calling to write. For those who haven’t heard this, each post on here flows from me almost effortlessly. I very rarely edit my work on here and many times, the most attention I show a written post is a quick glance. Each post must pass a test, however, before I press the all-too-easy “publish” button: Could I stand by this post if tried? When I was a witness in a criminal case, this was a very important question. My journals were subpoened (though thankfully not used) and my therapy records were used at length on the stand by my stepfather’s defense lawyer, trying my words in every way possible. When I made the choice to blog again while in the midst of that long process, I knew I was taking the risk – any and all of my words could be used against me. Now, the literal answer to the question is less important to me. Still, I find it a helpful litmus test – if I had to, could I stand by these words and say I wrote them? Sometimes I wrestle for other reasons whether something should be posted. Should I post only hopeful happy posts? Recently, in my Waves of Grief post, God spoke to me mid-way through writing. I warned relatives who are grieving the loss of Grandma and Grandpa as I didn’t want my references to catch them off guard or my pain to trigger pain. At that point, I wondered if I should even bother writing about grief and struggles.

Several people have written to me about how that post spoke to them. One friend who is discovering God’s love decided to crack open her Bible and read Job after being intrigued, writing to me that she couldn’t put the Bible down. It’s pretty awesome to have God work through my art. I think an artist’s greatest joy is when the art begins to take a life of its own and meet people in their joy and in their brokenness and point them towards the Great Artist. The more I live into this calling to write, the more joy fills me. I remember watching Chariots of Fire and the athlete whose name escapes me says that he feels God smile when he runs or something like that. I feel that when I write. When words flow from my fingers onto a page, I feel God’s pleasure and delight in me. I write because I must write. Words are my art.

I am trying to write every day. But I have also learned when it is a gift flowing out of me and when I am forcing the process. Of course, there are times when I must force myself to write without that beautiful sense of Inspiration… such as the night before a paper is due. I think this is part of the discipline of art. Musical giftedness comes supernaturally, but also comes through practice. One can’t expect to sit at the piano and suddenly play some complicated piece. I think it is the same with writing. There are many drafts that go into the deleted folder – perhaps many more than actually get posted. And that is all part of the writing process. Still, I try not to post writings that I know come from a forced place. For me, that means that it isn’t the right time, or perhaps I don’t have the right ideas yet. There are posts that are lost in the abyss of bad ideas and ones that I return to at a later point in my life. There are posts that never meet the worldwide web but have shaped me or been an expression of where I am at that needed to get out, but needs not to be known or read.

Right now, words are flowing out of me rapidly and continuously, hence the increased number of posts. It is a wonderful thing that I can’t quite explain how joyous it is – but trust me, it’s joyful and I find myself thanking God daily for the gift and art of writing. My part time job is a lot of writing too – what a blessing to write about what I love to read and write about, and get paid for it. But more than that – people are reading my writings. And even enjoying them. And because I know the words flow in and through me, I find myself thanking God for gifting and using me in this way.

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  1. John Sullivan
    January 8, 2014 at 3:59 am

    Keep up the good work Elizabeth! But there will be times when the well is dry.

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