Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Quandary of the Writer

It’s probably safe to say at some point every writer has thrown hands to air and moaned, “Why would anyone ever want to hear what I have to say?”
Whether it’s after a particularly difficult day of writing in which the internal editor vetoes every sentence or it’s the result of receiving another “pass” on a project, there will just be those days when we wonder why we even bother.

A dear friend of mine faced one such moment during a difficult critique session. Afterwards one of the members of the group stated that she would never purchase a book dealing with the written subject. What made it even harder to hear was that the critiqued piece dealt with something the writer had difficulty facing herself in the first place.

Questioning our purpose isn’t limited to just writers. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah is dubbed the weeping prophet for a reason. There was little that happened during his lifetime to rejoice over. He spoke the words he was called to speak and was ignored, rebuked, and rejected by his people. In a fit of despair he even accused the Lord of trapping him in an impossible position.

He lamented, “…if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in, indeed, I cannot. (Jer. 20:9 NIV)

As writers we all face moments in which we have to answer for ourselves if our calling is worth the heartache and pain.

It’s one thing to write for entertainment; however, the words that ultimately hold the most lasting value are those which hold up a mirror and cause us to look at uncomfortable things about ourselves and the world in which we live.

Words that reveal a truth we may not wish to see.

As a result, there will always be someone who, intentionally or not, will cut you down. There will always be moments we look at our work in progress and say “I cannot write about this. It’s too hard.” 

This is especially true when writing about something that’s controversial or sensitive in nature.

In speaking with my friend we both learned that sometimes the question we ought to be asking is not “Who would want to hear what I have to say?” but rather, “Am I willing to listen to what is being spoken to me?”

Sometimes the very thing we write is meant for our personal growth and healing. When that process ends up helping someone else it’s just an added bonus.

In the end it may not matter if what we write goes on to be published to raving acclaim. Sometimes all that matters is that we finish what we start. And finish it well.

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