Archive for Writing

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pretty plain and peaceful

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Sometimes — no, lots of the time — I wonder and question and doubt whether I’ll ever “make it” as a writer. And by “make it,” I mean seeing my name on the New York Times bestseller list. Petty, I know.

One of the reasons I wonder this is because my life seems too, well, normal — while the lives of those other writers who are famous and respected are often great big stinking piles of poo.

For example, in her book “Bird by Bird,” Anne Lamott talks about growing up as the daughter of a writer whose friends passed out drunk at their dinner table, committed suicide at alarming rates and generally made a huge mess of their lives. She tells about how her 3-year-old son one day used multiple curse words — and used them correctly, I might add — because he had heard her say them so much. She talks about what her therapist has told her. On and on it goes, and I think, “My kids have never even heard me cuss, nor do I plan for them to,” and “Why on earth would I need to go to a therapist? There’s nothing wrong with my life.”

So of course Anne Lamott should be a good writer and have lots of success — because she’s got so much interesting stuff to write about. Psychotic and insane stuff, perhaps, but still interesting.

In contrast, I think about what in my life would qualify as “interesting” to a mass audience, and I often come up empty. My life at home is peaceful. My children are relatively obedient, depending upon the day. My wife and I don’t have any screaming knock-down arguments with each other. I’ve tried to cut back on my drunken harangues (that’s a joke). Oh, I get to do some pretty cool things every so often (covering the Olympics is one of the most awesome things in the world), but on the whole, to quote Blind Melon, my life is pretty plain.

But then I think, maybe I have something to offer to those people whose lives are full of the psychotic and insane. Maybe those people are desperately longing for a life like mine — a life that’s peaceful, ordered and calm — and they have no idea how to attain it. So I’ll keep writing, in hopes that what I have to say might be of help to others, and in hopes that others with lives like mine might find something that resonates with them. As C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know we are not alone.”

In doing so, I’ll point them to Christ, who is the source of the peace that passes all understanding. The blessings of my life are not of my own doing, but are solely because God in his goodness has decided to give them to me.

For the past several months I feel like I’ve been on a journey with my writing, and I’ve come to a conclusion that has been helpful. I’m not the world’s best writer. Though I hope my writing continues to improve over time, I may never be widely regarded as one of the best writers of our age. And that’s fine. But writing is one of the things that I do best, and so I might as well go with it.

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