Thursday, May 3, 2012
I get asked all the time what it is that I do. And I typically respond with "I write, I am a writer." Then I swivel around in a perfect pirowet (I misspelled this word so badly that I can't even correct it) break into song about books whilst birds begin their chirping, until I get the inevitable blank stare that says "I prefer my Kindle".
But every time I say I'm a writer, even though I'm spinning around and singing and stuff, I feel kind of like a liar. Maybe I'm a liar-writer. But to call yourself a writer just seems pretentious doesn't it? It sounds like my opinions count more than other peoples. Of course I believe this most of the time, but it doesn't give me the right to go around telling people, or gasp, blogging about it!
It's just not the case with me, that I'm a real writer. I suppose I'm a writer, or at least a blogger. But I've never actually been published anywhere, at least to my knowledge. I love to fantasize that in some country I've never heard of, my blog posts are being carefully printed, bound and ordered along a Dewey-decimal system (which is one of the mysteries of the universe) and are currently forming the back-bone of a great revolution. One day libraries of my own work will be burnt, as people put their lives on the line to defend my powerful ideas, sticking their hands into the fires to retrieve my precious morsels of unearthly wisdom. I know it's happening somewhere.
But at work here in Orlando, I'm asked to write up discipleship stuff for Student Venture, so I guess that counts too, though it's a little less romantic. And I wrote a lot in college and seminary (of course professors made me do it), I'm always quick to bring this up when singing and twirling, so they can know that I am so legit.
But if I go back to high school, I have to admit that while I wanted to write for the newspaper because I just knew I was profoundly deep and enlightened (at least while I wasn't trying to figure out how to make a new noise with my armpit) I didn't because I thought writing for the newspaper would land me solidly in Geekville, in the Land of Nerdious. Of course it probably would have.
So rather than writing, I threw myself into soccer. It was so cool and it was my life. As my parents will tell you, I spent hours and hours and hours training. Unfortunately for me, while I loved working on skills and things that I could show off with, I really hated the difficult stuff of training. Say sprinting, long runs and sit-ups, those are icky things that should be left for amateurs who sweat a lot. They made me feel like I was going to throw up and who wants to throw up? Not me.
Of course I did find a strange fascination for push-ups and pull-ups that has carried over into adult-hood. It's kind of embarrassing, but I liked how big they made my chest look and would pause whenever I passed a mirror to admire and examine my triceps. They were my glory. Of course, when I looked at my 9th grade gym teacher with his shirt off, I was always a little worried that the bigger and stronger I got, the higher my chances for having really saggy bosoms in the future would be. Currently my kids love my bosoms, and are constantly pinching my nipples, so so far this fear has been totally unfounded.
Funny that I would have grown so enamored with my upper-body since I was trying to become the world's greatest soccer player. "Wow, look at his glorious pectoral muscles when he strikes the ball." My goal was to feel my chest bounce when I ran (too much information I know!). I blame my condition on genetics. I was blessed with "thunder thighs" so I never had to work on my legs for them to be absolutely riveting and glorious.
So, as you see, being a writer is not about your ability to use words good, at least not for me. In my background, other than reading a lot, I was pursuing all the wrong venues to become the next Shakespeare. In fact, in the high school lunch room I was probably pitying the next Shakespeare, sitting all by himself. Although I had my times at that table, which is another hard story for another hopefully not so hard day.
But what makes me a writer, aka pretentious snob, is simply the willingness to share myself with you. I have a desire to be heard yes, but I also love the idea that in some way that through my wrestlings, strivings, failings, wanderings, meanderings and meaningless-random-musings-thingies, my life will be transmitted and I'll be building something, possibly a kingdom.
I hope it's not simply my kingdom, although I know I put a lot of effort into that. I am absolutely floored when I hear that something I shared helped someone. I think, "Man, I'm just rambling, and you found that really helpful. Writing is crazy!" (of course along with that thought, my very next thought is "Of course! Why doesn't the whole world think I'm amazing? The world is so messed up!")
And there's something in writing that forces me to take stock of where I am. Like taking my temperature, say, anally (just kidding). No it's just really helpful to seek honesty and truth and to begin seeing where you're lying to yourself.
Also as I often wrestle deeply with depression and melancholy, writing rarely if ever gets me depressed. It almost always lifts me. And I think it's because while I am putting down my own thoughts, I'm forced to see them in black and white, and it helps me to see the ridiculous as well as the true. And then there's the fact that God does speak, and he guides my words sometimes. Yes you heard it here first, I write the infallible words of God! No, not yet anyway.
So if you're wondering what I do, or why I write, and why I wince when I say I'm a writer, there you go. Also I'm hoping this will encourage you to take up a blog or a journal (they're infinitely cooler - plus people will wonder what in the world you are doing with that flat object and stick. Then they'll come up to you grunting with their Lattes in hand, and start asking "Ook, ook, is that the new i-thing, ook ook?") and start creating.
My advice, for what it's worth (which is about $3,013.58) is to focus on making a mess until something else takes over. That's what I do and it seems to work for me.
Although, since I get nothing but praise from my family, I have the sneaking suspicion that I could be like one of those contestants on American Idol who has absolutely no clue that in other parts of the world where there are more fragile ecosystems the tonal quality of their voice could kill off entire species (like one of those ridiculous orange frogs. They are so ridiculous! I for one don't believe in them). Of course if you've read this far, you either just like watching what sort of train wreck this post will become, or you perchance actually like what I have to say. I'll imagine the latter and be on my merry way.