Writing frustrates me.
Sure, I get great ideas now and then, and I jot them down, but later when I sit down to flesh them out, I too often find that my notes aren’t enough to fully recapture the moment, and it is lost. I miss my lost, unexpressed epiphanies.
Another (related) problem is saying what I wish in just the right way. This difficulty sometimes manifests itself when I have written something one way and wish to make it clearer, more concise, or otherwise better. But it most often occurs right at the keyboard as I’m trying to get something out the first time. Naturally I am aware that what I type is not permanent, yet I hesitate even to commit electrons and pixels if it’s not perfect.
And there it is. I guess you could call me a perfectionist when it comes to writing, but mine is a weird perfectionism. Yes, I feel a desire for what I write to attain some standard of perfection, but I nearly can’t stand sitting there and working it over until such perfection is reached. I want it to spill freely from my fingertips onto the page, perfectly formed. If I have to work at it, well that’s not fun, that’s work! I’d rather go read blogs and emails to which I can easily respond with quick, perfect comments and replies. Of course such responses tend to be somewhat insubstantial.
Yet after I have managed to overcome the self-censorship and actually write something down, and I have smoothed it out into something worth reading, that’s the miracle! It is now worth reading! The original beauty of the thought may be lost somehow in the process of getting out, but as I rearrange and replace the words on the screen, suddenly everything is just right, and there it is! Beauty emerges, born anew.
As an example, recently I had to write a paper with two main sections. I spent a lot of time on the first section, and by the due date I was quite pleased with it. But as I turned the paper in without reworking the second section, I wondered what my professor would say. When I got it back he had written something about how the second section could have used more attention, but he complimented my writing in the first section. As I looked over my paper again, the difference in writing quality was indeed quite noticeable.
¶ For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. (Matt 25:14, 15)
So yes, writing well is difficult. I have to really work at it, and I also have to work at not running off to do something less strenuous. Perhaps I was not given as many talents in this arena as others were. But I can write. I can keep from digging in the earth and hiding my Lord’s money.
For while having finished a job well done always brings me satisfaction, there’s more at stake. I’m not just looking for compliments from my professor. I aim to be faithful over the few things given to me by my Lord. So now the act of writing takes on a whole new significance. The struggle continues, but it is now full of meaning. And it is only at this point, having written this post, that I can finally say
Writing makes me happy.