Saturday, May 1, 2010

An Inciting Incident

This is my life. This is what I love. This is what I am called to do. I write. I don’t always write well or consistently, but I write. I write the things that come to me – I put it all down in ink and make sense of it as I go.

It doesn’t seem like an inherently scary process, but it really is. On a good day, it’s like I poke a hole in my heart and let little bits of it trickle onto the page. Other days, it’s as if I use my soul as sidewalk chalk, smearing it across anything I can find. And that’s kind of nerve-wracking. I mean, I write to be read and I write to reveal, but the power of words scares me. What if I say something wrong? What if I misrepresent what I want to say? What if someone reads it and thinks I’m an idiot? What if nobody reads it and I know I’m an idiot? Or worst of all, what if I can’t get it out to begin with?

Those are obviously the wrong questions, though. As a writer, I can’t help but to write – it comes out of me even when I don’t sit down formally and decide to spend time working on my craft. And as a Christ-follower, I can’t help but to do what He asks me to do, to use my gifts, to pursue my passions. For me, that that means that I have to write.

I’ve been blessed with a beautiful network of support. Pam and Kate and Dee, for example, always build me up and encourage my work. Taylor takes it a step farther and assumes ownership of my writing in a way that I would let few people do. But Jackie pursues my writing. She asks for it. She demands it. She promises that I can do it even when I’m sure that I can’t and she lets me read everything to her, even the really awful, boring stuff. I think that she’s just vying for the position of Jordan, Donald Miller’s friend who frequents his books, but her reasoning is secondary at this point; she’s well on her way to securing that position.

Jackie and I sat on the beach talking today, talking about God’s promises and His plans for our lives and the awesome potential for living the epic, whimsical stories that we both yearn for so deeply. She asked me why I haven’t started writing the books that I want to write and I said that I don’t know if I can, that I don’t know if I should, and she just stared at Lake Michigan and listened. Jackie listens. She processes. She takes her time to speak, but it is generally worth the wait. After a while, she just sort of shook her head and said, “I don’t know a lot of things, Carly. But I know that you were created to write. And I think that you should start.”

So I’m left with the question, what if I really am a writer? What if I wrote a book this summer? What if I wrote every day, faithfully, in discipline and in boredom, in joy and in inspiration, when I feel like it and when I don’t? What if I actually tell people about this project and thereby lock myself into it with accountability? What if I took a risk and did what I loved and risked falling out of love with it? What if I allow myself to become so consumed with Jesus that I write everything He tells me, that I turn off my internal editor and just write what He asks me to? What if I did that? What would happen?

I guess the only way to find out is to do it… so I’m going to. I’m going to write all summer. I’m going to beg Jesus for words and for patience and for understanding and for stuff to write about and then I’m going to write it. Because what if I am a writer? And what if I did the scariest thing of all and walked away from my dreams because I was too afraid of them? That sounds worse than being an idiot or being frustrated for a little while, so… here goes nothing.


elleking said...

I think this is going to be an amazing, trying, growing thing for you. I can't wait to see/hear how this experience goes for you, and how it changes you, because I think it definitely will!

Charis & Judah's Mom said...

Girl, I'm 33 years old and still asking the same questions. Go ahead and poke that hole and see what comes out, or smear that chalk across whatever will stand still for it. At the end, you may have a treasure, or you may have something to file away forever, but at least you will have SOMETHING. And that's totally worth it.

The important thing to know is that God gives gifts as His tools. He didn't give you a talent for writing so you'd have a hobby; He gave it to you so you'd bring Him glory and draw others to Him. Your writing is His tool in your hand. Give it to Him before you even write your first word, and He will be glorified through your words!

Sigh. Yeah, I ought to take my own advice, huh? See you on the other side.