“I heard a preacher say recently that hope is a revolutionary patience; let me add that so is being a writer. Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
“There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain. It is hard to explain because you have never read it on any page; there you begin. You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.” – Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
The trouble with writing is you have to believe you have something worth saying, or some piece of wisdom to share. I’ve wrestled with this ever since I entertained the dastardly thought of starting my own blog. In writing, the lines of confidence tiptoe the edges of pride.
My confidence as a writer is an immigrant that has crossed the border. I may have a blog and I may occasionally admit my love for writing, but I am still timid and cautious as I look for a way to take this seriously. I wander around, trying to remain inconspicuous in a land of puffed up chests, noses in the sky, and pens held loftily poised for prophetic wisdom. My pen quivers, it slinks to dark corners, and my confidence labors to convince me I belong.
So why bother crossing the border at all? I could stay safely on the other side as an avid reader who simply journals consistently. But why does anyone cross into uncharted territory? It might be pride or daring, the thrill of danger that pumps adrenaline into their wills. More often it is for survival, and hope.
The main reason people risk moving or being a foreigner in a challenging new place is because they know that the hope of what could be is better than where they began.
The main reason I write is because I know the hope of what could be–the hope of voicing the words that echo within my darkest chasms and brightest horizons, words that resound with others and remind people of our intertwining, words that remind me of what it means to create like our Creator, words that breathe life back into a world gasping for something meaningful.
The gremlins of insecurity still emerge from under the bridges I imagine I’m building, they itch my mind with fears of worthlessness. They tell me “Why write anything, there are way too many books out there already” or “You don’t have anything worth saying, or reading for that matter.” I fight their suggestions that I’m being selfish, that writing is something I do to make myself feel important.
And then I remember: there is nothing selfish about writing when it requires me to fight off gremlins and wade into a torrential river of fear. The selfish thing to do would be to stay on the safe side of the border, the side where I say “That’s a nice dream God, but I’d rather not risk it.” If writing was selfish, it would be easy.
I know this because for the last few weeks I’ve avoided writing and skirted around my New Years Resolution to write more days than less. It was easy. My schedule was not busy, I had very few social engagements, and instead I binged on Netflix for hours a day. Writers block more often comes from fear, not a lack of words.
Two of my favorite books on writing have this wisdom to share:
We all have something to give voice to, and the hope of saying it requires revolutionary patience. For you this might not be expressed through writing, it might be speaking up for others, or learning how to not speak and listen more. It will be risky and scary. But we don’t lose hope, because we each have a daring endeavor that God has called us to.
Back in January I mentioned that my New Year’s resolution is to write more days than less. We are now officially half way through the year, and I must admit that I’m not at the number I want to be at. I’m close, and some months I did better than others, but there is still room for improvement. The important part is that I’ve written more than I would have without this challenge, and there is still another six months to improve.
With that in mind, I have set a goal to write every day for the month of June. To keep me accountable, I will do this by posting something on the blog every day. I can’t promise that they will all be brilliant, or lengthy, or universally relatable. But I can promise you honesty, vulnerability, and plenty of stories.
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Poet Maya Angelou wrote “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” We are all storytellers in our own ways, whether it be through music, business, speaking, climbing rocks, or running the bases. Our lives must bear our story in whatever way possible. I am challenging myself to write for 30 days as part of a bigger story, one I don’t know the end of. Your challenge could look entirely different. It doesn’t have to be flashy or even instagram worthy—some of the best stories come from showing up in the ordinary parts of life to find beauty and purpose in the mundane.
What story your life is about right now? And how you can interact with it more intentionally? Brush aside fear of failure, remember the hope you dare to imagine, and cross the boundaries of comfort into a world of great adventure. Then let me know how it goes :)