There is nothing I want to do less than write today. After a long weekend, I’m back in the swing of things with a messy house, overdue projects at work, a lawn that needs mowing, and a tight deadline to hit by Friday. I lost my wallet, and had to go to work without it.
As I’m sitting here, I catch myself asking why I’m even writing in the first place right now. Surely my time is better spent working on that late project, or hitting that tight deadline, or working on my chores. But here I am, hitting the “pause” button and writing. Why?
Writing is a sorting into buckets of the whole world. For me, writing makes sense of the things that don’t make sense. Don’t call it escapism, but a more subtle word – strategic retreat – might do. Writing is a chance to stop, take a breath, and remind ourselves of the things we know. I tell my Sunday school kids that a catechism is just “reminding us the truth we already know, but forget.” That’s what I do when I write.
This is the time to remind myself that the wallet will be found, the project will be done, and the lawn will be mowed. Life will go on. God holds the earth in the palm of his hand, spinning and whirling through space at thousands of miles an hour, and I’m worried about a credit card. Writing is my chance to gain perspective and stand outside of the stresses of everyday life for a few minutes. So, too, fiction writing is just my own subconscious sermon to myself: writing the things that I know to be true, through the lives of my characters.
After all, there’s not much to being a writer. We all write, whether it’s a brief text message or a million-word opus. A writer just puts into words the thoughts, emotions, and feelings that every peson feels. And because every person does this, isn’t every person a writer? The world might be better off if everyone took ten minutes to pound out a few confused words on a keyboard. Rarely does my writing make any sense – it’s the process that’s cathartic and calming. There’s no information in here that you didn’t already know: that I didn’t already know. But I write it to catechize myself – to remind myself of the truth I already know.
In the busiest days, when the world presses in hard, there is a plan that goes above my worries.
In the most frantic days, when I don’t have an instant to think, the still whisper of God can pierce the thickest shell.
“You are chosen and loved – not for anything that you will or won’t do today, but because I chose you. Before you were formed in your mother’s womb, I knew you. What you feel today is not the world: take heart. I have overcome the world.”