So… you can laugh at me if you’d like to. You can tell me I’m overestimating my own ability to use the English language. You can tell me the statists one how many people successfully make a living off of a certain career. It won’t change a thing. The truth is, I’m in love with words. I’m irresistibly drawn to a blank page. I obsess over pens and paper. And I often dream of being a real, published author some day.
I’ve spent hours just listening to people talk in an attempt to improve the dialogues I write. I give immense attention to the details of things, often thinking in full sentences describing in detail the world around me. I’ve sat down and read the dictionary, broadening my vocabulary and knowledge of the English language. I’ve read books upon books about writing techniques and styles. I’ve read classic literature, studying and practicing imitating the styles of great authors. And I’m sure I’m digging my own grave here, because you’re all reading this and wondering why my posts aren’t better written, but that’s beside the point. The fact is that I love writing. I want to write. And I’ve put at least some effort into improving my writing.
A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with someone that I’ve been thinking about. One of the staff members here at school asked me if I had any idea what I was doing after graduating and I automatically answered no. But instead of dropping it then like most people do, he kept pushing. He wanted to know about any interests or talents I had. I mentioned that one thing I would love to do is write. He seemed to like that answer and started giving me all kinds of advice.
He talked about writing styles, about observing life, about reading classic literature. We talked about the preparation I’ve put myself through and encouraged me to continue in those things. Then he brought up ideas. We were in the library when we talked, and he took me to a shelf full of philosophy books. He told me that not all of the ideas written by these men were correct, but he’d read some of my homework and had talked to me enough that he thought I could discern what to accept and what to reject. He said one that it was in those books that I would find what could make or break my writing.
He explained to me that writing wasn’t just about the words. Yes, having a mastery of the English language is important. You need to know how to weave the words together to communicate your ideas in the clearest, most memorable and convincing way, but the words are just the framework and what matters is what the words are holding. What does your writing say? Does it strongly communicate themes that will resound with the hearts and lives of your readers? Are the truths communicated timeless and relevant?
I know it’s a rather elementary idea. I’ve heard people say countless times that what you say matters more than how you say it. But somehow, the way he put it challenged me to take a step back and look past the words of what I write… to look at what I am actually communicating, if what I’m saying is even worth the reader’s time. In my thinking and studying, I’ve been considering what I write in light of a few different verses…
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. Luke 1:3-4
Now therefore, write down this song for yourselves, and teach it to the children of Israel; put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel. Deuteronomy 31:19
I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 1 Corinthians 4:14
These things we write to you that your joy may be full. 1John 1:4
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:31
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8
So I guess I’m still thinking… thinking about how to write… thinking about why to write… thinking about what’s worth writing… and thinking I’m more in love with it than ever before.