On Writing: A Love Letter

* I intend for this blog to be issue based and professional. This is something of a personal interlude in the midst of that. But if I’m asking you to invest in my writing, it seems worthwhile to reveal a little about why it matters to me. 

I’m currently taking a class about women and voice. Coinciding with our reading assignment for this week, I was asked to reflect on a series of questions about when I have felt silenced and voiced. I had written my answers down and each chance I had to share back I simply read the words I had written.

One of the questions was “Where are the places in your life where you speak freely and honestly? I had written in response, “In my writing. Beyond that, I am only just beginning to learn how to trust others to be a free and honest space for me.”

My professor asked me, “Which writing? Your blog? Because people give responses to that.”
I said, “Yes, my blog. And sermons. All of my writing.”

She wondered aloud why I felt that way about my writing if not other conversational and relational spaces. I spoke instinctively, without knowing what I would say.

“I was three when I learned to read. I was four when I decided to be a writer. I claimed writing as my own before any dark things in life got their hooks in me. It has been mine since before any of that, and so nothing and no one can take it away from me.”

It wasn’t until a few minutes later that the truth of my own words really struck me. Wasn’t my very practice of reading out my answers evidence of my relationship to writing? I was very young when I learned to read and write—younger than most I think. And it was never a stranger to me. From the first it was a friend. My oldest friend. My closest and most stalwart companion.

I have had a harder life than some—though certainly an easier life than many. I’ve had my share of pain and fear and grief and trauma—the dark things. I have often and in many ways felt silenced.
But writing has always been with me—my comfort and my conscience. I consider it a gift—not because I am necessarily great at it—but because its presence in my life has always been a means of grace. It is the singular constant: the through line to all the me’s I’ve ever been—including those I’ve forgotten or shoved away.

I wonder at how I’ve gone so long without ever appreciating the gravity of such a relationship. My ability to take it for granted is only further evidence of the gift it is to me, but that is no excuse really. Where is my gratitude? Where is my commitment in equal and opposite measure? Writing has been such a friend to me (what other friend would give you the very means of expressing your gratitude?)—how have I been so unfaithful in return? How has there ever been a question as to where my loyalty, trust, and investment belong? And how can I make up for it—return the favor now?

I must.

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