Write What You Are

Sometimes, I eat chocolate chips with a spoon.

141211 chocolate chips.jpgOriginally shared at Breathe Christian Writer’s Conference:  http://breatheconference.com/…/feat…/write-what-you-are.html

Sometimes, I eat chocolate chips with a spoon.

Really, who does that?

Right now, it’s because I’m sitting at my desk, typing away, and sticky fingers + laptop keyboard = bad news. I wish it were a more interesting reason, like … they taste great that way! Or … I fear the transmission of germs from my keyboard to my fingers to the chocolate chips to my mouth!

Still, it’s something I do. Me: the person behind the words, the hidden human sending you messages through little black symbols on a screen.

We are told: “Write what you know.” (Good advice, if grasped that knowing and personally experiencing are not one and the same.)

I have learned that I must also write what I am.

In my writing, I must be a student of myself. This is a terrifying endeavor. I have more than once hidden behind half-hearted assertions, cloaked my thoughts in vague and undefined clauses. I have trembled in the shadows of my words, hoping not to be noticed.

My fears sometimes surface as hero-emulation. If I mimic so-and-so, my writing will be good. Clearly, we must read what others have written. We admire—and imitate—their humor or their gravity, their varied vocabulary or their clean, simple prose. We read what we love and we honor their skill.

But let’s not get sidetracked by fear-driven faddism.

Here’s something I remind myself: God created me and He was pretty stinkin’ delighted about it. Me, with all my passions, quirks, fortes, and, yes, my flaws. He didn’t make me J.K. Rowling or J.R.R. Tolkien or John Piper (because that would be weird). And really, if we all wrote like John Piper, there would be a lot fewer interesting books out there to read. Just sayin’.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember this, when your writing vision is just a little, unformed thing—a little, wet, ridiculous looking chick fighting to get out of the egg. You have your main character eat chocolate chips with a spoon—and you wonder if it’s a mistake.

If only we knew. Who is waiting for that sentence, the one that terrifies you to write, the one born out of the hardest or happiest day of your life?

In writing, there is no room to be shy. Because I myself am what I bring to the table. When I let my personality infuse my writing, my passions drive its focus, my unique perspective color my world, it comes alive. When I stifle these things in my writing, I lose the chance to connect with the people I want to touch.

I must write what God put in my heart to write. If it stands out as weird, funky, or ridiculous, it may just be because it’s me-flavored. But I plan to write it. And keep on writing it. I will let my readers see me—a person who eats chocolate chips with a spoon.

I bet there’s someone else out there who does too.