Thursday, July 28, 2016

Reading and Writing.

I read an article last year that said reading does not necessarily make you a good writer. If this were the case we'd see a closer margin for how many kids per classroom excel in reading vs. writing. This article emphasized that it was being read to out loud and memorization of quality pieces of literature which bring us closer to the title of "excellent writer", not just plain old reading.

I agree, for the most part, but I also see in myself an ability to write with more ease and accuracy when I've simply been reading good books. I imagine the more I read, the better literature I read, and the more I commit certain passages to memory, the more my writing would improve. As I read good literature out loud to my children, I do see more improvement in my own vocabulary and ability to string together a better sentence, but alas, there are only so many hours in the day, and there are also so many dirty dishes and loads of laundry in my day.

Each day as I wade through what needs my attention and what can be set aside, I would almost always choose reading over dishes if I had no regard for my husband's time or his opinion of me. Oh yes, and my commitment to serve my family, let's not forget that. But really, I do spend a lot of time scrolling Instagram, checking for messages on Facebook, and browsing through Pinterest looking at beautiful homes, amazing color-schemes, and blossoming floral arrangements. Why? Why do I trade real work, profitable work, even work that is fun for me and helps me to reach my goals, for mindless scrolling and browsing?

Besides feeling more than frazzled some days, I recognize my desire for beautiful things. It's part of eternity and God's loveliness set on our hearts. There is joy in witnessing something amazing, something so lovely we fail to adequately express it to others. We get distracted looking for that beauty in all kinds of places and often forget to stay focused on the tasks piling up behind us. As I am doing now... I'd much rather talk about beautiful things than tell you about what I am attempting to do right now, which has little to do with beauty and more to do with commitment.

At SheSpeaks, one of my sessions was with a publisher from Zondervan and she said one of the best things we can do is to read every day and write every day. Blogs, news articles, and letters don't count as reading. It needs to be real literature; even self-help doesn't quite make the cut. Emails and text messages, no matter how long, don't really count as writing either. There needs to be a level of commitment to reading great work and releasing what is in your mind.

I actually read or heard this same advice from two other sources within the six days I was out of state. Once from a "real" writing book, and another time was from an autobiography. Funny how God does that.

So here I am, writing today, at 9:15pm PST. Better late than never, yes? While I certainly don't think I'll commit to writing every single day, I am taking baby steps to writing more often, even when my thoughts are not fully formed, when there is no moral, lesson, or specific devotional-type theme in my writing. Madelein L'engle talks about how writing comes from your hands as much as it comes from your brain, so I'm taking her word and practicing putting my thoughts onto my blog, trusting the process, and hoping for progress.

As my life is about to get a little crazy this coming month, I hope to stay on here in an effort to not only keep you all updated, but also to sort through my thoughts a little. It's easy to forget the intensity of God's calling when you get back home and into the seemingly mundane task of keeping a home and rearing children, but I think writing more frequently will help keep my vision and His calling fresh.

What is that calling you ask? Well, I'm not completely ready to reveal everything, and I'm also not completely sure what it will amount to. I will say that despite being a person who wears their emotions on their sleeve, I've been very hesitant to admit the desires of my heart. It's scary to say "I want to pursue X, Y, Z." and see what happens. Plus, I love to over-analyze, so I always need to leave a little room for that. But even after sorting out the differences between selfish ambition and a calling from God, I realize that I have been slow to truly admit what I want.

In Psalm 139, there's a point where David is asking God for revenge, then he switches gears and talks about God knowing his beginnings, his heart, his earnestness. I feel like this now, like I want to ask God for something but I am a little scared, not just about the future, but of pursuing something that is out of a sinful desire. I keep coming back to how David handled it and saying to God "You know me. You know better than I do if this is from a pure heart. You take this desire and grant it or replace this desire with righteous motives."

This is where I am today. Admitting to God what it is I want, putting forth effort to pursue it, and trusting God to steer me and my family as we make decisions. In my role as wife (and certainly not the bread-winner) this gets a bit more tricky. I trust God to move my husband, but I'm a little more ready to leap at new opportunities and plan out all the details right away, so balancing my desires to move forward and figure stuff out with following my husband's lead and trusting him to make decisions, is faith-building to say the least. But, I can write, and I can read, and I can spend time every day doing at least one or the other.

This is a form of pursuing excellence. Even when I cannot make big decisions right away about our living circumstances, I can make decisions about how I invest in myself. It's hard to wait, to sit back, and support my family without pushing them into my plans, but losing myself in a good book and putting my thoughts onto paper (well, a computer really), is a great way to keeping investing in this vision and taking steps into the person I want to become. And really, who ever regretted reading Anne of Green Gables instead of mopping? Definitely not me.

1 comment:

  1. YES! I completely connect with what you said about being hesitant to admit the desires of my heart. I'm so afraid that my desires are selfish, and honestly, sometimes I'm not even sure what my true desires are versus what the world encourages me to desire. But I want to go back to Psalm 139 and remember that God knows better than I do, and I want to hold on to that trust and just tell God every day, "I trust you and your plans for me." The next step is to move forward and at the same time, listen to God's direction, trusting that he will open and close doors according to his will. What a good daily practice!