I just reread a post I’ve never shared. I wrote it a while ago about a subject that’s controversial and difficult. A subject about which even Believers do not all agree.
I think my personal response to this topic would surprise many people – those who are on both the left and right, liberal and conservative, Believer and atheist.
And I cannot bring myself to click Publish.
When writing became my work, I had a lot to say about a lot of things – light-hearted stories about clutter and circuses, deeply-felt memories about family (here and also here) honest feelings about hate and violence in the world.
But I knew the time would come when I would step over that line I had drawn for myself in the sand. The Safe Line.
Someday I would click Publish when the words were not all sunny or funny or universal.
That time may be drawing near and it scares me more than I thought it would.
Left/right, liberal/conservative, Believer/atheist. I see the faces of those I love in each group as I ponder the thoughts I put into written words. I think about family dinners and coffee with friends. I think of future writing gigs or speaking opportunities and wonder Will these words or ideas or convictions or positions create distances between her and me? will they diminish my faith in his eyes? will they ever hire me to write or speak once these words are no longer private thoughts?
I’m sure God has asked me to write. I’m still stumped about how this will all play out, but that’s beside the point.
But I’m still asking What is my job?
Some of the more accomplished, followed, and well-known writers of this era and those past have advice for those of us at the beginning of our careers. Some of them have hard and fast rules: you have to write everyday, you have to write at least (fill in a number) words every day, don’t ever use the word “that”, make sure your title has a number in it, be diligent about your SEO, keep a rigid schedule.
Good golly, Miss Molly. Famous or not, who made you the boss of us? (Is that too sassy?)
And maybe the schedule is a good idea.
But there are practices I have been encouraged to keep that make sense to me.
- Find your voice.
- Be consistent with your message.
- Be faithful to your readers.
- Respect them and offer them something of value for their time.
- Be authentic.
Authentic. That’s the tough one. Does that mean I should be brutally honest? or just not phony? Do I tear open my soul and simply pour it out for the world to see? to analyze and dissect? to embrace and share – or to slice and dice?
And, dear God, how ready do I have to be for the aftermath of going public? How thick does my skin have to be?
How do I prepare for sharing my words that may be completely misunderstood? or answered with vicious words … anonymous, hateful, condescending?
Holly Gerth says it this way: Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little.
Hmmm. Sounds familiar. Like …
… Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Well, look at that. It appears that my answer has been there all along. Right there in plain sight. An answer I have seen and said many, many times. I just wasn’t listening with both ears or an open heart.
My job: write authentically, with conviction and without fear.
So, my lovelies, I guess that about wraps things up. Thanks for listening. Thanks for being there when I stumbled onto the answer to my oldest question: What is my job?
So, what’s your biggest question?