Word of the Week

Courage for Writing

One of the most commonly heard excuses as to why people who have something to say don't write are 1) time 2) courage to say what needs to be said. 

The more I write, the more I realize what hard work it is. You think you are through with a piece and then it's time to edit and edit some more. Sometimes this involves throwing out an entire page or two all together. A simple exercise that you think might take a short time turns into a long time.  Writing and the time it truly takes is a discipline to grow into. This process is not to be rushed!

Yet, the courage excuse takes work of a whole different kind of effort to get over. With feelings that surface like, "Who would read it?" "What would people think?" "I can't be that honest!" it takes a large dose of gumption just to do it. This type of gumption I call self-confidence. It's a solitary determination to believe in what you have to say. Sure, as writers, we'll all say things that are off-base, poorly written, or inappropriate from time to time, but should this keep us from giving life to the stirrings in our souls?

This is a question I've been thinking through this week as I've pondered what future projects I might like to tackle.

As I have been reading my former professor's Stanley Hauerwas'  beautifully written memoir, Hannah's Child, I received a gift of courage.

Hauerwas writes about his experience of beginning in the publication world and soon receiving correspondence from those who were responding to his work. First being unsure of the purpose of sharing his writing, but later reflecting on its great gift to his life, he says:  

The habit of correspondence, which I developed at Notre Dame has continued. I have always regarded the letters I receive as sheer gift, and the time I take to respond as my ministry, to the extent I have one.  . . . Some of my closest friendships have begun in this way. In fact, I regard writing as a way to discover friends I did not know I had. Writing an essay or a book is like putting a letter in a bottle and casting it into the ocean. You never know where it is going to wash up. Often there is no one there, but sometimes, and it can be years later, someone comes along and reads with understand what you have written. (134-35).

Hauerwas' words sparked in me motivations for why I write as much as I do.  Yes, of course, I could think of thousand different reason as why not to do it, but in sharing authentic ideas bridges for friendship are created which may not be built any other way. And, with publication of ideas so easily shared these days, the possibilities of friend making are endless!

There are people I need to know and you need to know too, if we will just be willing to put our gifts out there. For some of us, this might not be writing. It might be painting,  jewelry or carpentry among many other talents.

I'm glad the friends the practice of writing has given me and will continue to give me. I'm hoping my sharing of ideas will  continue to mean something to someone at sometime. This gives me courage to keep putting myself out there. Here's to hoping for more courage for you and I both to keep living into our vocations.