Thursday, June 7, 2012

Up until recently, I never understood it. I never understood how writing could be daunting. Writing frees the mind and expresses what we're passionate about. Something magical happens when words flow, and have a rhythm, and come to life. It's an extremely personal process.

When I heard an accomplished writer say, "Writers will do everything they can to avoid sitting down and writing," I remember being confused. The thought of a writer who didn't want to write seemed a little pointless. Maybe this accomplished writer wasn't so accomplished after all.

But during my Journalism class last semester, it suddenly made sense: I never write on deadline, and no one else has to read what I write. I write on my own time. I write when I feel like it. And as we can see from the gap between last entry and this one, "when I feel like it" isn't very often.

It took me so long to get words on paper during my class that I didn't turn in a single story until the last week of school. We only had to write two stories for the whole semester---two feature stories at that! Features are coveted plots in Journalism real estate. But I just couldn't write.

Maybe it was because I knew it would take hours. I knew it would take hours to get one sentence. And I knew the sight of that stupid, blinking cursor would mock me until I got something out. But I just couldn't do it.

Instead, I did everything I could to avoid sitting down and writing---exactly like that accomplished writer said. I busied myself with other tasks, overcommitted to other papers and homework assignments, and did anything to distract myself from turning in a story.

It worked until the last week, too, before I had no other choice. I remember making an iced latte, heading outside with my laptop, and determining I'd stay until the article was finished. And I did it. After a few hours of writing and deleting, writing and deleting, I had an story that I was proud of.

And it was in that moment that I felt like an accomplished writer. It was in that moment that I flashed back to memories of high school Journalism, and co-editing our yearbook, and writing all the time, and remembered how much I love the process even though I also hate it.

I think every writer has to hit that sobering moment, too. It's because writing is so personal that it's so daunting. Turning in a story to your professor (editor) is like turning in a part of your soul. You've just spent hours writing and revising and being mocked by the cursor and sweating over each sentence and in an instant, that professor (editor) has the power to do whatever he wills with it. He could hate it and tell you to start all over again. (This has happened, does happen, and will continue to happen). He could think it's okay overall, but then take out the one part you thought was so good. Or, he could love it. But even if he does, there is always something that can be tweaked. Definitely daunting.

Like everything, though, writing is a process. And arguably, it's one of the most beautiful processes. The feeling I have after I write is like the feeling I have after a good piano performance. There is so much anticipation and hard work that goes into the process, and the process' entire fate rests in a few short moments. But once it's over---once the cursor has stopped blinking and once the last chord has struck---it's indescribable.

The love I have for writing is one of the most concrete passions within me. It's why I am only an English major now (and graduating in one semester), and why I really want to pursue Journalism as a career. The idea of de-cluttering sentences and reorganizing their structures excites me. If that isn't a clue that this whole writing thing isn't just something I do "when I feel like it," then I don't know what is. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Finding joy in the little things is the best.

This last week was insane




But I loved every minute of it.

It helps that my classes this semester are rocking my world, and that by the time 80 minutes has passed, I haven't even batted an eyelash at the seemingly magnetic clock in the back of the room.

It helps that teaching kids how to swim is something I love more and more every day, and I am in fact at the pool, every single day. (Let me say, though, that I wholeheartedly look forward to the time in my life where chlorine will no longer be my natural perfume).

It also helps that this week the music department went through yet another CD recording, and it was by far the most enjoyable one to date. It reminded me how beautifully rewarding it is to put your heart and soul into something; to go from classes, to work, straight to recording for 4 hours, but still go to bed with a smile on your face. Exhaustion definitely threatened to take over mid-week, but even then, the smallest conversation, the smallest shoulder-squeeze (unplanned alliteration!) by the person standing next to all just exemplified the tangible strength and love of Christ. This year was unlike years past for that reason.

Plus we just had fun. Yoga competitions...pizookies for 90, (well, now-vegan taste buds were
jealous for half a second, but then I just ate my salad) sopranos singing to the altos, tenors in (short) robes, hairy chests/legs and's all these little things that come together (!!!! that is totally a choir song, completely unintended) to make something bigger than just the task we set out to do. It's incredible to see how far it has all come.

Every semester brings with it a new challenge, or a new mindset, or an evolving goal, and although my track record with Spring semesters in the past hasn't been the best, there is something about this one that is sweetening any leftover bitterness I have towards the second half of the year.

It's often in busyness that the (good) little things become the (good) big things, and its in those moments we are lead into humility and thankfulness, which is exactly where I sit tonight.

Happy (almost) Superbowl Sunday!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Deep down, we all want to be great.

Granted, greatness is relative, but for each, personal, definition that "great" holds, there is a part inside of us that wants to achieve it.

Sometimes the pursuit for greatness is unintentional. We will gradually begin morphing our ideas, our values, and our dreams into one collective mindset that equals greatness, and it becomes who we are. It shapes us, and we may not even realize it.

Other times the pursuit is very intentional. We work our butts off to be great, and we know we're doing so. We put all of our efforts, our blood, sweat, and tears, into the one thing we believe will give us greatness; satisfaction.

That's the thing, too. We desire greatness because it gives satisfaction. It gives us a satisfaction in ourselves and our work--we accomplished something, we became something, we reached something.

In essence, none of this is a problem, either. It is good to have goals and it is good to achieve them. It is good to be pushed towards something more. But sometimes I wonder why we all do the things that we do. Even as I write this, I want it to be great.

We want our stories to be great. We want the experiences we share, the memories we make, the words we compose, to all be great. We begin to seek the approval of men in what we do, and based off that approval, or lack there of, the idea we have of what it means to be great transforms a little bit more.

I'm not even too sure what my point in all of this is, except that it's something I've been thinking about. I want to know that balance between who I am and who I still want to become. But I don't, under any circumstances, want it to be a selfish pursuit for what I believe is going to make me great.

I don't want to see someone else and their life and wish it was my own. I don't want to wonder why I am not a certain way or why the things that make me uncomfortable, make me uncomfortable. The reason we become insecure in who we are and the things we do, is because we begin to compare ourselves to people and lifestyles that, internally, we deem greater than our own.

That is a place where we will go to war every day if we allow it. It comes down to Who defines us and what defines us. I want to live a life worthy of the calling I have received--not the person next to me. God is the Great I AM, and I would like to become great in His eyes, not the world's.

Greatness to me is having the ability to let love in your life and give it back. It is living wholly and authentically, it is letting the relationships you have with people reach a place of depth. It is believing in, trusting with, and pushing forth the ones we care about; pushing them towards a greatness that far exceeds the world's standard. It is a taking the time to have a conversation, and it is absolutely taking the time to listen. It is believing that every moment, and every encounter, holds significance, and thus taking advantage of that.

Be great. But be great in the ways that greatness isn't usually defined.