Behind the scenes of my writing.

 

In her article “God is always calling,” Andi Ashworth says that “because new aspects of our callings unfold with age, we can always live expectantly.” When I felt the Lord asking me to leave the job I loved in this last season, I felt like I could only whisper a prayer for a new dream. I honestly could hardly believe it when I was listening to Donald Miller’s webinar about what it takes to be a writer, when I felt the Lord whisper back, “you could do this.” And I believed him. Later that day, I was journaling in a coffeeshop and someone came up to me and asked if I was a writer. As I looked around at my notebooks and pens and stack of books, I realized that the Lord had been preparing me for this next step all along. I took a deep breath and timidly answered, “Yes, I’m a writer.”

Now here’s the thing, I don’t really know much more than that. When I tell people I’m writing, they have all kinds of questions about what and how and why. I answered some of them in an email to my dear friend, Christine recently:

Last year I wrote a weekly email to the students I oversaw in my building. It’s main purpose was to communicate my office hours for the week (since they changed week to week) and share important announcements. I also turned it into a way to share my heart and something that I was learning. My blog merely feels like a continuation of that, minus the office hours’ availability. I went months without ever hearing feedback from students, and only hoped it was helping someone. It was only in my final months there that I started hearing how helpful my words were for students. I think this was good for me, as I entered into writing again, to come to it without expectations of feedback. It is always nice, but not needed. I’m grateful that this is familiar territory.

It is nice to be able to picture at least a few of the people I am writing to-some dear students, a few friends, my boss/mentor. The pressure feels off to impress anyone and I can just share my heart. Writing about what I’m learning is incredibly motivating to me. Writing to people I love is motivating to me. If I’m struggling, I picture one of my favorite RAs sitting across the couch from me and think about what I would tell them. If I don’t know what to say, I think about what I want to tell one of my friends about what the Lord is doing or teaching me. It usually gets the thoughts flowing.

When I listened to Don Miller‘s webinar in April, he recommended not writing a blog if you don’t actually want a blog. If you want to write a book, he recommended just writing a book. Don’t waste time on immediate gratification through Instagram or a blog if a book is your aspiration.

But reading Austin Kleon‘s stuff made me reconsider. He talked about sharing your work on the internet and the benefit of doing so. Here’s some of the notes I took on the topic:

“Do good work and share it with people. Enjoy obscurity while it lasts. Use it-experiment and do things just for fun. Step 1. Doing good work is hard. Make stuff every day. Fail. Get better. Step 2: share. Put stuff on the internet. The more open you are about sharing your passions, the closer people will feel to your work. There’s no penalty for revealing your secrets. You don’t put yourself online only because you have something to say-you can put yourself online only to find something to say. Share your dots, but don’t connect them. You don’t have to share everything-in fact, sometimes it’s much better if you don’t. Share a handy tip. Share a snippet. Share a glimpse of the process. Mention a book or article you’re reading. “If you’re worried about giving your secrets away, you can share your dots without connecting them. It’s your finger that has to hit the publish button. You have control over what you share and how much you reveal.””

So I decided on a compromise between Don and Austin. I would blog, but not every day. Initially I decided I would just post once a week on Tuesdays, but decided to add Fridays to the mix too. I’m writing every day and sometimes what I’m posting was actually written a few days prior. I liked the idea of my readers getting to know me while I’m working on the book. I remember something Marjorie said about Calm Waters Coffee and how all of Bristol is anticipating the coffee shop because they’ve been experiencing their coffee for months now. I think the blog feels like that for me. I have no idea if I’ll ever be published or if the Lord will do anything with my book, but I want to act like that’s a possibility. I feel like the blog gives me a chance to share my heart while still working on other things.

I love this paraphrase by Eugene Peterson from Romans 8:15-16, “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike, “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.” (The Message) This is my hope through the writing Jesus is having me do: that my words would help myself and others come to Jesus with an adventurous expectancy, full of trust and courage, as he shows who we really are.

Thanks for coming along on this journey. Each comment and text and encouragement feels like the Lord confirming that this is the calling he has for me for this season. Thanks for cheering me on as I write, with the hope of pushing myself and others towards courage and a better story than the one we’re living.

“What’s next, Papa?”

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Mommy says:

    LOVE this. Some of it we already talked about, but it is good to read about it and get it all. I am thankful you are finding your way. We have a very good Papa.

    Like

  2. Heather says:

    Alison, I stumbled upon your writing today and I see you, I see Jesus, I hear you, I hear Jesus. I write for similar reasons, and on some similar concepts but YOU do it beautifully and uniquely and I was blessed today from your offering! Keep bringing your heart and art to the pages…both here and for that coffeehouse you’ll open someday 😉

    Like

    1. Heather, thank you for this beautiful encouragement! Your words are a gift straight to my heart. I write always with the hope that others get to see Jesus. I’m so grateful to hear that is what you hear.

      Like

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