Photo by redcargurl
A person’s life can look simple, at a glance. To the casual observer, I’m a mom, a wife, middle class, educated. I am happy, my life is relatively easy. And all of those things are true.
But that is not my story, and unless you are my mom, my husband or a good friend, you can’t begin to know the close calls, the plot twists, the devastation and redemptive turns that have propelled my tale to its current point.
Unless, of course, I write it all down.
That is my short answer to the question Why do I write? I decided today, the National Day of Writing, is a good time to share with you the “medium” version, here on my blog. (This day is primarily geared toward English teachers and students, but I love thinking that those of us who write daily can help inspire a fresh take on the value and importance of writing in schools.)
Here are a few of the thoughts that came to mind today as I pondered why I write. It isn’t a new question, of course, but it’s one worthy of an answer, in this moment and the next, from anyone who regularly takes the time to sit down and wrestle with words to tell a story. I hope you’ll share which answers resonate with you, or what you would add to this list.
- I write because the only way to understand where I am now is to understand where I was. And the only way to understand where I was, and how it all weaves together, is to think it through and write it down, revising and turning the story upside-down along the way, looking at it from different angles to more fully see it. (Maybe your brain can keep track of complex ideas better than mine can, but I need paper or a screen to sort through the craziness that is my story.)
- I write because it’s the difficult, complicated details that matter, not the obvious, simple ones. The simple details tell you I am a wife and mother, and a Christian; the complicated story tells you my husband is my second husband, that I struggled through years of being a single mom, and that I once left a church and thought I might also be leaving God. Those details don’t translate well at a cocktail party. I can’t just tell you them casually, over a cup of tea. They take time and care. They deserve to be put down in words.
- I write because I believe there’s no such thing as a “redemption moment,” only a redemption story. In other words, redemption can’t be told about through the telling of a moment. Redemption takes time—it involves a history, plot development, and characters with depth. It can only be redemptive through the sort of complexity that borders on disbelief and wonder, a narrative tension that builds and then is relieved in expressions of God’s great wisdom and love.
- I write because my story is part of a bigger story. First, my story is linked to yours. By telling one another our stories we’re able to learn together, heal, and grow into something more, knowing all along that we’re not alone (an intentional reference to a recently-published book of stories about depression, called Not Alone).
And more importantly, our stories are part of the larger-than-life narrative that is God’s story. I couldn’t begin to understand God, or the Bible, until I grasped an understanding of this larger story. The Bible is not just a whole bunch of individual stories that were collected together into one book out of convenience. We are more than simply millions of individuals living out our individual stories here on earth. Just by being a part of God’s creation, our stories are a part of his great cannon. I believe we are responsible for sharing our stories, not just living them. That is why I write.