Monday, August 1, 2011

Who I Am

I am a writer. I might just as well tell you this as to tell you my name.
I am a writer not because of what I do, but because of who I am, an ink stained wretch who can’t put the pen down, can’t satiate that ingrained desire to crane my ear to an interesting conversation, and can’t drink in enough details in the world surrounding me every day.
I won’t be noble and claim to be a writing warrior for Christ. I don’t have zealous desires to write gospel tracts or mission letters. I just want to write.
As the Olympic runner, Eric Liddell said about running, I feel God’s pleasure in me when I write. With a pen in my hand, I feel most effective; without one, I feel unarmed, unprepared to face a world that is about to hurl vivid details and stories my way.
But writing is like taking my heart on parade. As a rather closed person who opens only to prying and force, I balk at the idea of revealing the closed side of my heart; the side where warm and friendly meets cold and calloused; where normal and sensible encounters quirky and unconventional. In essence, writing reveals to others who I truly am.
Maybe that’s why I kept my writing a secret for so long.
When I was seven, I wrote my first short story and poem. Those, I shared with my family who did no less than rave over them. Then, not so long after, I became a secret operative. My stories and poems were written in a Lisa Frank notebook and stuffed under the drawer under my bed. Whenever I left the house and returned, my heart would race until I ensured that my mom hadn’t discovered the stash.
Finally, in 2000, my cover was blown when my dad found the page of a short story I had carelessly left in my church’s copy machine. He called me at home and asked eagerly if there were anymore pages of the story. I bawled, feeling that I had betrayed myself.
I’ve never wandered deep enough into my subconscious to understand exactly why I refused to share my work back then. But it was probably for the same reason I still hesitate to reveal my thoughts, my writing to people.
Hiding my writing has always meant hiding my self for fear of insufficiency.
I nearly changed my major in my sophomore year of college, fearful of failure in Creative Writing and Advanced Grammar.
Each year, I held my breath as I flipped through the senior Commercial Writing portfolios. Thoroughly depressed, I trudged back to my room, scared that I would never be able to write as brilliantly as those who wrote before me.
I even went through a time when I refused to read books because I was worried
that a sign might pop off of a really good page that confirmed the fear that I wasn’t a writer.
But my deepest apprehension was that God had given me the desire to write without supplying me with the ability to be a writer.
The more I write, however, the more I realize that the Master Author has equipped me to be a writer by making me who I am.
I view the world in a way others do not or can not see it. My view sees significance in the irrelevant. From corn silk, to grits, inevitably, my mind ties those simple images to the way I think and feel. The corn silk reminds me of the need to strip myself of immaturity. The grits becomes, in my mind, a symbol of the people I want to avoid (see "The Way 'Grits' Got to Be").
I don’t claim my vision as something that I have achieved, for I know it is a gift that God has bestowed upon me; a gift that is meant to be shared with others who might need that view to realize that their struggle is common unto man.
I cherish the moment when a friend looks up from my paper, in surprise, and confesses that my description explained exactly what she has felt but could not put into words.
I have succeeded as a senior Commercial Writing major, but I certainly haven’t arrived through my own ability. God has proven to be the greatest idea file I could ask for. He daily sends people, situations, and images into my life that He wants me to write about.
My writing isn’t something that I can hide anymore, no matter how scared I am to reveal it. For in truth, the success of my writing doesn’t come through fearing what I can’t do but by using what God has already given me.
Really, there’s only one simple reason why I write. I write because it is what God made me to do; it’s who I am.
I am a writer.

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