On Writing

by Elizabeth


You may have noticed that I’ve taken quite the break from blogging. {More likely, though, you have not noticed any such break.} The break was originally unintentional, but it morphed into something more intentional. {And more on those intentions in a future post.}

In my not-writing-phase, I had time to think about many things, including, but not limited to, writing. I thought disappointingly about how I used to be funny. Awash in culture shock, I had written some genuinely funny stuff. I quite enjoyed being funny for the first time in my life. But alas, t’was for a mere six months.

I wish I were still funny. But now, nearly two years after culture shock began waning, I have to admit that I am no longer funny, and may never be again. I must accept the fact that the only thing I really am is wordy. Oh, and also, emotive.

But not only am I disenchanted with my sense of humor, I am also disenchanted with the actual process of writing. Before, there was some experience I just had to capture, and all I needed were a couple hours to write a blog post. By the time I finished, the intro and conclusion somehow magically tied together, and I felt both satisfied, and amazed.

Nowadays there are things I feel so deeply about that I just can’t make them funny. And I can’t make the words flow again, either. Writing is hard work, and after every single rough draft, I get depressed at my horrifying lack of writing skills.

I have been assured by real writers, both in person, and in books, that this feeling is entirely normal, yet I can’t seem to stop myself from mourning that terrible first {and second, and third, and usually fourth and fifth} draft. Gone are the days when something shocking or humorous happened, and words would literally flow out of my fingers.

Thing is, though, I believe writing is one of the things I was put here on this earth to do. There have been a lot of things I thought I was supposed to be in this life, starting with archeologist {but what child doesn’t think that??}, and moving on to fiction writer, then elementary ed teacher because I liked ALL the subjects and couldn’t pick a favorite.

I decided early on in life that I wanted five or six kids. {I think I failed on that one.} And in the eighth grade I was convinced ceramic or nuclear engineer was the career for me.

There was a short undecided phase in high school while I frantically worked through trigonometry proofs, redox reactions, and All My Sons. Then there was my Twila Paris obsession and the accompanying secret singer-songwriter dream. {Permission granted to laugh, even though it’s at my expense and not remotely because I’m funny.} Then engineer again, this time chemical.

Teacher again, when I discovered that engineers work in {surprise!} factories. And a mom, always. Lactation consultant {there’s something new}, college professor, then doula.

Blessedly, I am both a mom and a teacher. But I can’t seem to escape from this drive to keep writing, either, so I suppose I am also a writer. I am writing again, even though it is hard work. {And in fact, I am currently in the middle of several writing projects.} I’ve come full circle, back to my third grade dream of being a writer, though this time around, I’m not aiming for fiction, or for fame.

Instead, I press on, with messages burning in my heart. Trying to tell the truth always, and hoping desperately that my words might bring healing to people’s hearts.

So when you read something I’ve written, know that it was pounded out on a keyboard in Cambodia, through tears, mistakes, and frustration. Typed with uncertainty, and published with trepidation. But also know that it wouldn’t arrive at a screen near you if I didn’t care deeply about the message, and about the manner in which it is presented.

In continuing on the path of writer, I am choosing to entrust you with my words, and I am choosing to entrust you with my heart. And while it may seem a fearless thing for me to do, know that I am doing this afraid. Always.

6 thoughts on “On Writing

  1. I bet you will be funny again – or be in a situation that is best processed with humor. Most things in life have seasons. Writing through the challenging time will make you a better writer. The words will flow again!

    • Thanks, Rachel. I sometimes think I would have to go through culture shock again in order to be funny again. Not something I’m overly keen on doing regularly! ~Elizabeth

  2. Dear Elizabeth, I could help but laughing about your “unfunniness”. After almost 7 years spent mostly on continents other than the one I grew up on, the feeling is all too familiar. Keep up the great work. Praying for perseverance for you and yours. Blessings from the equator in Africa.

    • And blessings upon you as well. We are sweltering here in Southeast Asia, in the middle of our hottest season. If you are in the middle of, or approaching, your hottest season in equatorial Africa, may you stay as cool and sane as possible!

  3. mmm yes. this is good, honest, and raw stuff. some things are so easy for me to write, and others, i honestly avoid because i know it’s difficult and i’m afraid i can’t do the topic justice or tell the story in a way that honors those involved. and sometimes, i just feel like i don’t have any time or brain space left. (and by the way, i totally wanted to be an archaeologist in greece when i was about ten years old. 🙂

    • Thanks for reading Whitney! It’s amazing, really, how much writers can have in common in regards to the actual writing process, since it’s such a solo activity. And yes, about those difficult subjects, I’m in the middle of one now. Ug. And I remember last year, being in the middle of a difficult subject — took me months to actually complete the project!
      And so glad we got to meet in person last week! Blessings 🙂

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