What we do when it all comes down says who we are. And who you are is a writer. This work of words. All you do is this...this flinging.
What are you really doing? Anything? Sometimes it doesn’t look like much. People’s huge, busy lives swirl around and you sit here alone. You take so much time for this, do you realize? When all else is stripped away do you honestly believe this is your real work, this constant grappling with concepts extracted from a life that’s not nearly so full as others'? Would anyone be able to take the simple scraps you choose from the heaps of the unsaid and be able to point to why in the world you do this?
I believe you might finally find the answer to that question once and for all today. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Now think about your writing time. Let’s say it’s now (or at least once you’re done reading here). You’ve heard it before: now is all you have. And you write because you believe (however weakly) it’s the work you were given.
It might not look like much—and sometimes it will look bad—but all the work you do here and now makes everything else you could do, at least for you, pointless. I know excuses can pile up like leaves but this shouldn’t need any more establishing: your work is inspiring hearts to prepare them for their true work.
When I was nine, my grandparents took us to the petrified forest. Giant log-shaped rocks lay all over in the scorching desert sun. Chemical reactions, pressure, sediment, I couldn’t follow it, but something to do with the volcanoes and a lot of time had turned these once living things to stone. The park center was basically a room large enough to contain all the signs threatening imprisonment, torture and excruciating slow deaths to anyone considering laying his hands on a piece of their fascinating wood rock (actually, several billboards outside assured children their relatives would be stoned and buried shallow if they so much as thought about stealing rocks). The experience leaves such a strong impression on me that to this day, I can’t look at a big rock without losing a little bit of my bladder. So scared I was (petrified!) of the park officials seeing me eyeing their treasure, I crept around the desert, my hands sweating in my empty pockets, eager to escape.
Altar boys never felt guiltier.
The more people I meet, the more I think there are unbelievable numbers of people feeling this way, day in and day out. They haven’t chosen to feel like outcasts, or worse—suspects. But living as though they're unworthy, and liable to be useless at parties and probably going to steal something given the chance, they miss out on their dreams, on the party, on life.
And I think it's this certainty of hopelessness that most often makes people into real thieves—stealing from their better selves to ward off this false belief they should be ashamed.
You’ve done it yourself. Stealing time. Stealing topics. Stealing words. All to feed a lie.
It’s the writer’s curse. We sit to write and we can't even see the road in front of us. Yes, we’ve proven over and over how useless we are. How can we possibly think we’re supposed to write?
Maybe that’s just it. We can't do it ourselves.
God knows we’re useless. That’s why he’s given us everything we have. We don’t need to steal. We’re free to steal if we want, ignore all the warnings, even our original design, and fling out whatever words we like. But what is really ours? Nothing. And if only we'd finally realize that, maybe we could write what we’ve been waiting to for so long...
This isn’t stealing: take the time you need. What will it finally take to make you realize that we have nothing else because we need nothing else? What would you do with anything else anyway? You could have all the wood rocks in the world but would you write like no one could ever shut you up no matter what threatening realities they flung at you? Would you give up this chance to make something of all the beauty in this homesick world, this sanctuary you're asked to witness and speak to life for someone?
I know it's a dark road, but what if this was your chance, your one chance to give back? To sit here. Alone. And to think about this. Isn’t this why you return again and again?
Are we ever really alone?
What better place to remember the point of it all than right here?
Write, you beautiful, child of the true King. Write, and never, ever stop.