A few Octobers ago, I wrote to save my life. I’d become angsty, entitled, and was flailing to find my place with four kids age 7 and under. I found out about a blogging challenge Write 31 Days (where you, surprise!, write for 31 days) and I decided to try to find beauty in my mundane. I spent my nights writing and finding pictures and reading and commenting on other blogs. I felt like I was a part of something. I felt like all my pent-up creativity finally had an outlet.
I felt like I was alive again.
Writing was like that for awhile, something like oxygen to gulp down when you’ve just realized you’ve been holding your breath. It was full of play and twirls and spins and twists. It was full of little squeals when a “real live author” would comment on something I said on Twitter. It felt like life itself.
Then I realized that artists are people, too — complete with laundry, to-do lists, and the hard work of creating not just their prose but also all the marketing to go along with it. That authors are just people who do their thing — just like CEOs and attorneys, stay-at-home moms and those in the service industry. We’re all just doing our thing. One foot in front of the other. Some tasks are delightful and others a slog, but isn’t that a bit how life is?
I think I’d expected the writing life to be the answer to all the angst inside, because it was for awhile. I still write to find my way home. I still write to give my words away. I write because storytelling is the best way I know how to chase beauty and practice sustained attention. I write because it helps me to stay curious about my own life and stop pressing all the easy buttons.
But writing — or creating or making enough money or buying that new dress — will not actually solve the angst inside. It comes out sideways when we push it into new containers that we expect will fill us up. I’m learning to hold those emotions with open hands. To not push away those negative feelings of resentment when my insides itch. After all, they’re little warning flags asking me to pay attention, to show up boldly in my own life. They’re flags that tell us something is rotten in Denmark. So it behooves us to pay attention.
Yes, I’ll keep creating because that is just what I do. It’s how I’m wired. But I can’t ask it to save me. So even though I know that I’d get some terrific content out of Write 31 Days, that I’d get some more blog readers, and be encouraged, I’m in a season of “no” right now. I’m trying to realize I need to match my output with what I’m actually capable of in my real life. That means right now, lots more time outside, driving my kids to soccer, reading with them, and trying to keep my room clean. It means long walks and good food. It means I work towards longer writing projects in early morning hours that no one will see. It means I can breathe.
For I’m finding, without margin there is not much room for the Spirit or my spirit to move.
Of course, there on the edge, the wide expanse feels scary. It’s hard to know what I’m falling into. But I’m convinced that only there — when I intentionally make room — will writing make me come alive again not because it scratched an emotional itch, but because it is what I’m created for. It is my glory song back to the one who hovered over the expanse. Who called all of it good.
More: My friend Mary Hill interviewed me for her Write 31 Days theme: 31 Days of Christian Women Bloggers. I’d love for you to read more about the writers who inspire me, and how apparently I’m really reticent to have a “favorite” of anything (song, bible verse, etc.) here. Read on for other women writers to inspire you, too.