Reason to keep writing

Every so often, usually when a project nears completion, I sense more keenly the “risk” of exposing what I’ve written to others. This morning, as I begin to revise my newest book, I feel the “danger” of writing, of becoming more visible. This can be a fragile stage on my writing journey because my insecurities about writing instantly flare up and tempt me to stop writing altogether.

 

There is still a part of me that resists being a writer, that suspects it’s foolish to think I can write, that becomes embarrassed that others might “see through me” in something I write. This is the part of me that worries a lot about what others think of me as a writer, rather than focusing on my own call and journey. This ego-focused part of me also resists the relaxation and playfulness I need in my life to write well. It focuses on trying to control what I can’t: the creative process, the feedback I receive, etc.

 

I was reading Bonni Goldberg’s Beyond the Words, and she mentions that when we move towards sharing our writing with others, we can become concerned about proving ourselves through our writing. For me, “proving myself” is always a setup for disaster, and it distracts me from where I want my focus to be–on authenticity.

 

How someone else will receive what I have written (with God’s grace) is out of my control. Some of what I write seems powerful; lots of it is mediocre. One passage I write will touch one person deeply; another passage will move someone else.

 

When I have finished (or am coming close to finishing) a piece, it is time to entrust it. I entrust my writing to God and to the reader/viewer. Part of letting it go is to let the reader/viewer respond to it in his or her own way. The feedback I receive is welcome and valuable in my growth as a writer, completing the communication circle. But most of the time, I won’t receive much feedback. Feedback can’t be what I count on to keep me writing.

 

Entrusting what I’ve written to God–who inspired me in the first place–is where I receive the hope to keep going with the real work of writing. If I seek to be open to his inspiration as I write, then once a piece is written I can certainly trust that he will direct it where it needs to go. The Master Craftsman who uses the most humble of elements in shaping the world can use the fragile pattern of my words to touch people’s hearts and souls as he wishes.

 

My real work as a writer is to cherish the idea, write the piece, send it out, and entrust it.

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5 thoughts on “Reason to keep writing

  1. Sister- At times I have trouble finishing something with nuance or depth because it seems I can always find a hole I failed to plug with my words-yet I can better communicate an idea verbally if I have thought it through on paper first.

    It is funny with writers, that they must write-there is a God-given urge. (Not that I am really a writer-but I do have that urge.)

    It is true you can’t find your inspiration or better, acceptance, from the responses to your writing. One piece I wrote and had published was panned so badly by one reader that I was tempted never to attempt satire or humor again.

    Since most of my writing ends up being on a (not-oft read) blog, I don’t get much feedback-but that’s okay. At one time I had an idea I was writing for an audience-it turns out they never show up, so I just write whatever I am inspired to write about on a given day.

    I have a book I want to write (actually 3), but …. someday.

    “Keep on keeping on” … as Fr. Foley used to say!

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  2. There’s artistic solace in the knowledge that God reads all our work. He’s both our toughest, and most encouraging critic. Sure it’s a limited audience, but WHAT AN AUDIENCE!

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  3. Thank you both for the generous and encouraging responses and insights. The fear of exposing ourselves to others is quite common for writers, and I think most of us probably “dance” around the issue at least some of the time. For me, God has been so present to my writing process, I don’t tend to think of him as audience. But ultimately, God is the Only and Perfect “Reader/Viewer”: God is ready to be delighted as our loving Creator, and he perfectly understands both our intentions and what we are trying to do, whether we succeed or fail. The truer we are to ourselves in our writing or media production, the more I imagine God being pleased with us.

    Thinking of God as the Audience of our work is probably the most encouraging thought we as writers can carry in those challenging moments.

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  4. My writing is my little prayer. It is also my little apology for what I didn’t use to be. But I never have a problem with “revealing” myself to other people in my writing. In fact, my problem is just the opposite–I don’t know when to put the pen down!

    I like to keep St Thomas Aquinas’s quote in mind: “all I have written is as straw”…because in the light of God, all we write will be like straw. Let’s just make it edible, useful straw for God. 🙂

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’d been finding it difficult to write recently. Then my dad told me that I could write honestly or I could try and game it out and anticipate my audience’s criticisms, but I couldn’t do both at the same time. Having the choice presented to me so starkly made writing enjoyable again- I want to be read (and accepted or rejected) for honest and thoughtful writing rather than appealing but fearful writing. Your words reminded me of the wonderful freedom found in letting honest writing go out into the world.

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