I used to hate to write. My mother and I used to have a constant battle on when I would write, how I would write, and what distracted me when I wrote. I was eventually banned from the use of the word “interesting” because of overuse. I avoided writing like the plague. I was capable of being distracted by the most minute thing in the universe. My mother used to say that I could be distracted by a blank room with a single light bulb. Table or not.
When I would write for my classwork I would eventually eke out enough to complete the assignment, but I hated all parts of writing, including most especially editing. When it came time for me to decide what I wanted to do in college I was considering studying religion, but I knew how much it would require me to write, and so I was turned against it, possibly afraid of what I was going to have to do.
I kept a journal off and on during high school and college, sometimes writing some teen angst poetry and other things that we think are dreadfully important. When I graduated college I was determined to keep a journal, and so I was faithful in keeping it throughout my service in Peace Corps Kenya, for two and a half years. After that time, I decided that I didn’t like the way I was keeping my journal, and I decided to change from keeping an account of my day’s activities to keeping an account of my journey of thoughts. It seemed more helpful than a daily list of what I ate and did.
Then, I went to divinity school. For some reason, I felt the call, and instead of walking the other way, I entered divinity school, eager to see where it would lead me. The first semester was very hard. I felt like I was learning to write all over again. I didn’t have the option of not writing, and so I learned to hone my skills that first 4 months. The second semester, we had a total of something like 14 papers to write in as many weeks.
It was as if a dam was broken. Words began to flow. It was no longer like pulling teeth in getting a hundred words on paper. Writing became a instrument of grace to me. That summer after first year, a friend challenged me to write every day for a month. I wrote for 45 days straight. I did something I never would have considered previously, and joined a writing group.
Writing was no longer a hardship, but became something I enjoyed and actually looked forward to. Sometimes the assignments that I was supposed to complete were still difficult, but not in the way that any words on a paper had been before. People said they liked the way I wrote, and I was able to use my love of words in a way that was productive, rather than continuous consumption.
See, one of the reasons that my mother didn’t understand why I didn’t like to write when I was growing up, was because I devoured books ravenously when I was a child. I still can devour a book. I love to watch a story unfold before my eyes. But now, I can share other stories, I can build and tweak and grow a collection of words into a cohesive essay or story or narrative.
And, amazingly, I like to write. Even for its own purpose, even if no one else reads it. I like that I can use the medium of the written word to build my thoughts and draw them together into something that makes sense to someone besides me. I like the way that words have power when they are written in ways that they don’t seem to have when they are merely spoken.
And so, as I write, I find that my life becomes more ordered. I find that my thoughts have more direction, and that I am able to bring together what I want to say, instead of words slipping out of my mind just as they enter.
I want to begin to keep a prompt journal, a list of ideas that I have had throughout my day of things that I want to write about. Possibly a list of word pictures of things that I have seen as I walk or drive through my rural community. There are many places of beautiful disrepair that I want to explore, both with words and in person. Life is far too interesting to be unexplored. I will continue to explore this thing we call life in this place I have been graced to live.