Pushing away today’s occurring’s — each minute’s demand and every daily mini-intrusion needing my attention — I make room at day’s end to write. I sit at my computer with a thought I wish to share and coax it onto the page as experience and listening allow me. Quiet guards the house while I attempt to form words before sleep asks for time.
To me, each day is a child that needs a parent’s careful eye and patience. Some days I am fully in charge and the day’s intention conforms to my willed direction. Other days remind me of a two-year-old who says no when meaning yes, who struts about with an attitude saying, “I don’t have to” and whose body language winks at you with a full-of-itself attitude. Some days the child simply wishes to exert its presence.
Writing is the day’s opposite. Neither am I in charge nor is it. Writing is a fine relationship between writer and words, one listening and one speaking. Each playfully exchanges those roles within the form allowed by the evening’s quietude. Good writing invites the reader into this conversation. Invites … if “The Elements of Style” (a guidebook for writers) has been followed. Failure ushers the reader on his way.
I remain distant from any accolade identifying me as a good writer. This process is ongoing and I am still learning and seeking to understand good writing’s correctness and distinguishing intangibility tagging an attempt as good. I have submitted myself to its lifelong discipline and instruction. Deeply aware of my deficiency, I learn by reading – Mary Oliver, Christian Wiman, Cervantes, Leo Tolstoy, David George Haskell, Rick Bragg, E.B. White, David Whyte and Verlyn Klinkenborg. These are my teachers. They inform me. I listen and observe.
Motivated by awareness no written piece is ever good enough, I strive to write the better piece. Klinkenborg says why not begin where you are. So, I begin.
He says a sentence is the residue of decisions.
He also says if you get lost, think about these four words, “and then one day.” Don’t use them. Contemplate them. So, I do.
Writers are never fully self-determining. Being one is self-permission—to choose. In “The Elements of Style,” William Strunk writes, “All writing is communication; creative writing is communication through revelation — it is the Self escaping into the open. No writer long remains incognito.”
And when I write, I see a parallel. My life in Christ began. This life is not… no… never finished. And when I’m stuck, I look to God and say, “What’s next?” I can’t do this on my own. Help me discern truth. Guard me against hearsay and heresy. Show me the way. He does.
Being Christian is never fully self-determining. A Christian’s life is the residue of his decisions. Submitting to Christ exposes you — to yourself.
In Christ, I submit myself to His lifelong discipline and instruction. A residue of my decisions, I remain an unfinished piece. I am exposed.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).