On Writing: the Why and the How

Admittedly, I have a bit of a love hate relationship with the internet these days, and lately I've really been trying to steward my feelings well. Sometimes, that means immediately blocking a social networking post that I find offensive, instead of reading it repeatedly and stewing on it. Sometimes, it means that I deliberately avoid articles on certain controversial topics, even if I happen to find them interesting. I've thought a lot recently about the company I keep and what kind of material I allow to engage my thoughts and feelings. Lindsey is not just online company I'm proud to keep, but she's actually my down-the-street neighbor in real life! Her voice is so authentic, and she has greatly encouraged me as I do life as a young adult and discover my passions and what the Lord has called me to. And today, she's asked me to chime in with my thoughts on writing: What are you writing or working on now?

Right now, in the few quiet moments that my life allows, I'm working on a short e-book for my subscribers. It is brimming with scripture and things that the Lord has used to grow and challenge me over the past few years, and I hope that maybe those things can translate in a meaningful way for someone else.

I have also written a couple of guest posts for a new website called Hashtag Hope. Its a community that really emphasizes the power of our stories, and that no matter what kind of background we come from, we have something valuable to bring to the table. My newest post for them will be published on July 29, I believe.

How does your work differ from other writers of your genre?

This is a really interesting question. My answer may seem cliche, but I believe that everyone has a story, and even though sometimes our stories may overlap, each of us has a unique voice to convey those things. I think that it is important to keep that in mind, especially for the days when you feel like you don't measure up, or that all of the words have already been said. The world needs people who are willing to be brave in sharing their story.

That being said, I have a community of amazing bloggers who challenge me daily, and I'm so thankful for them. Some of my other influences include Ann Voskamp, Flannery O'Connor, and Donald Miller. And seriously, I catch my breath every time I read the opening pages of Eliot Perlman's Seven Types of Ambiguity. 

Why do you write what you do?

This blog is essentially my journal. If I had a leather bound diary on my nightstand, it would probably have the same words. Like Lindsey, I write mostly to build altars. When I go back into the archives of my blog and read posts from a year, three years, five years ago, it really resonates with me how tangible the Lord's presence has been in my life and how much He has grown me in and through writing. Basically, I write here to preach to myself. I need the reminders to slow down in the middle of this crazy life and spend time with God, and for as long as I can remember, words have been my way to do that.

I don't write here to suggest to anyone that I have it all together. I try to paint a really accurate picture of my life and what it means to me to follow Christ. I think the world already has too many people who try to look like they have it all together, and that mentality can be so damaging, not only to other people, but also to the individual. Honestly, I've tried to live my life that way, and I only end up pushing other's away and isolating myself. Not only is having it all together a lie, but its really lonely.

What does the writing process look like for you?

It is usually a long, drawn out process. What you see posted here is almost never the first draft of something. I edit a lot while I'm writing, so I'll type out a paragraph to begin with, and what comes out in the end might be something totally different. I read a lot of scripture as I write, and usually have music playing in the background. I don't really have a specific time of day that I have to write in, but most of the words typically come out in the later afternoon and evening hours (right now, I'm writing this in a couple quiet minutes at my office). Sometimes I'll have an idea or a verse hanging out in my head for a few days before I really sit down to write about it, but for the most part, I have to try and write something down right away so I don't forget it, and it will sit in my drafts folder until I'm ready to come back to it. Also, I have an ongoing love affair with all things literary, so I'm constantly checking the dictionary and thesaurus and thinking about devices to use in my writing.

 

There you have it! Now, I'm tagging three of my favorite bloggers, my friends Hannah, Lauren, and Sarah.

for your weekend.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncUGwNYwT94&w=560&h=315]

Links:

Encouragement from Emily P. Freeman for those days you feel like all the words have been said.

Who do you need to write a letter to? This brave note from Aliza to the boy in the cancer wing.

This crazy good picture, taken right down the road from my house.

 

Tune out to tune in:

https://play.spotify.com/track/3U6rFpByVkro4mYqdRblXS

 

"An artist is an explorer." | Henri Matisse

 

A Letter to my Sisters {Five Minute Friday}

rp_five-minute-friday.jpg Dearest, most wonderful Sisters,

Professors had warned me that life outside of my small Christian college would be lonely. They told me that I would never again have that sort of genuine community. In many ways, though this past summer was joyous, it was also one of the loneliest times of my life. I was newly graduated and married, in a new town, and without a job or  a car. Even though family and friends were still close by, I felt heartbreakingly disconnected.

And then, I met Hannah. I don't even remember the circumstances of our introduction, but despite being half a world away from each other at the time, she made me feel right at home. And she invited me to a party one Friday night that would change not only my writing, but the heart that those words flowed from.

For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. -- Luke 6:45 (NKJV)

In the beginning, I must admit I was shamefully wary -- worried that whatever community I found here would be shallow at best, and that life and faith would be portrayed in a woefully unrealistic manner. I thought I would find snide perfectionism,  even competition, and I assumed that no one would want anything to do with life and God as I knew them.

I had beautiful community  in college, but the last semester was laced with hurt at the hands of someone I was hesitant to let in in the beginning. The wound was deeper than she knew and I struggled to let go of the pain and forgive.

But what I found here was everything humble and broken and life at its very best. What I found here was Jesus, again, between the lines of tweets and blogs and comments. I found genuine community to come alongside me in my joy and in my frustration. I found sisters encouraging each other in the wee hours, holding fast to the promises of God. And now there's hardly a Friday night when I don't weep over 140 characters of pure, unadulterated grace.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. -- Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV)

It filled me past the brim. Oh, that we can take part in the restoration of souls. In the past six months, I have made friends that will be kept for a lifetime.

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. -- Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)

You all are a gift. Living proof that the Lord knows what we need and His timing is perfect. Each of your lives are brimming with evidence of His goodness.

You, mothers, who saturate every character with love for your children. You, wives, who strive to serve your husbands in all that you do. You, who struggle deeply with insecurity and every word is infused with your need for Jesus. You are so important, so magnificent in all of your everyday grit and hope. I admire each of you so deeply for faithfully coming to the altar every Thursday and Friday night. You have made me better.

Jacqui, your testimony of loss and redemption has been such an incredible example to me. Your friendship has made my life so much richer. And Sarah, its hard to paint a more realistic picture of life than you have. I so deeply appreciate your willingness to be broken before the Lord and before others. Dana, your calling to open your home to the broken -- the orphan -- you are doing the Lord's work. And you write it all out with such an incredible, tangible passion. Lisa-Jo, all of this is really because of you -- your faithfulness has brought all of us together. Fridays on the internet are like holy ground.  None of this goes unnoticed. So if you haven't heard the words thank you in awhile, please don't ever forget that your willingness to put your life into such beautiful words has changed mine. 

I could literally go on forever -- there are over two hundred of you. Even as I punch these keys, salty liquid joy spills across my cheeks. I so wish there was space and time to mention each and every one of you by name.

Lisa-Jo wrote this week about how much our words matter. And its so, so true. Another professor of mine frequently spoke of the power of our communication. Our words hold the ability to image the Father.

Because in the beginning, God spoke, and all that is went through the process of becoming. And He's still in the business of collecting the dust and creating something beautiful. He's still the God of miracles -- each of you is evidence of that. He declared that everything He made was good, and He is singing goodness over you, even now. He's so in love with you.

Thank you. Thank you for taking me in, and for being so faithful to encourage me in this journey. Not a day goes by that my prayers are not for you, that Yahweh would come alive in you, that you would sense His presence in your lives and the lives of your families.

Surely, no eye has seen and no ear has heard -- but every Friday night, I see glimpses and hear whispers.

Psst! Obviously this took a little more than five minutes to put together, but it was so worth it. You are so worth it. Back in August, I didn't know the first thing about "linking up." If you're a blogger in search of constructive community, stop by Lisa-Jo's place. You'll find that Five Minute Fridays are about so much more than weekly writing prompts. Linking up this week with 200+ of the most fabulous, brave women on the planet.