Friday, September 21, 2012

Writing about Not Writing

I'm doing my best to write this morning, but it's not happening.  The pictures are clear, but I can't seem to ascribe words to them.  I got up this morning, took a shower, got dressed and made my way to my favorite coffee shop.  I was lucky enough to not encounter someone sitting in "my" chair, so I settled in, ready to compose something worthy of the time I invested.  I wanted to walk away, thinking to myself, "I wrote something today!  And, damn!  It was good!  BEHOLD!  I AM A WRITER!"  It's not happening.  Nothing is being transmitted from my brain, through my hands and onto my laptop. So, I'm writing about that.  I'm writing about not being able to write today.

I tell myself everyday, "Jake, It just might not happen today.  Don't let it get to you.  EVERY writer struggles with writing, probably more often than not."  In fact, Donald Miller just wrote an amazing blog on this exact subject. The 5 Steps to Writing a Book. I suppose if Donald Miller struggles with writing, I shouldn't be discouraged when I do.  He's good.  I'm worse.  "Much much worse."  (Remember that episode of Seinfeld?)

Writing is not easy.  It's much more difficult than I ever imagined, and most of the time, I hate what I write. I'm my worst critic.  My wife Kelly usually edits, and critiques, what I write. She usually loves what I write. If if were not for her constant encouraging words of affirmation, I probably wouldn't write another word.

I didn't always consider myself to be a writer.  I wrote because I enjoyed expressing myself with the written word, but never classified myself as a "writer".  What makes a person cross that threshold, ushering them into this category of identification?  I'm not sure.  The transition was not immediate for me, nor did I eagerly embrace it.  At first, I seemed to be reluctant in telling people, "I'm a writer."  I remember having lunch with a good friend of mine and him asking me, "So, are you a writer now?"  I guess I am.  Humbly, I'm a writer.

I love the fact that what I have to say matters to people, even if just one person sometimes.  I hope that I always earn the right to write for those who read what I compile.  I don't think that I have any hidden insight to the world, culture or theology.  I just seem to be able to put it all together in a way that people enjoy reading.  I see pictures in my head and writing is a way of sharing the images with you.  I hope that I'm always able to do that, and do it better as I continue writing.  I appreciate the fact that you read what I have to say.  It means more to me than you might realize.  God has blessed me with the ability to communicate in written form.  That's it.  I know it.  I accept it.  I embrace it.  I'm thankful.

So, here I am.  Writing about not being able to write.  Frustrated.  Staring out the window.  Kicking myself because for someone reason I have nothing to say.  And I really don't.  I'm writing a blog about not being able to write.  But as I find myself not being able to write, I write. Does that make me a writer or what?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I'm sitting in Starbucks this morning, trying to work on several writing projects at once.  This blog is just one more avenue that I'm finding myself drifting down.  Being OCD does that to you from time to time.  Starbucks is a dangerous place for the OCD personality.  People walk in.  People walk out.  Each time the door open, or someone passes within my field of vision, I instantly look up.  I enjoy people watching, but not when it distracts me from writing.  Today is one of those days, but it was a laughing little boy that derailed my thoughts completely, and possibly for the rest of the day.

The door flies open and a little boy runs in, probably no more than 3 or 4 years old.  His mom follows close behind as he giggles uncontrollably.  I laugh to myself and watch him race across the room.  He bounces with excitement and I think how rare it is that I find myself that excited about anything in life.  "unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)  Running. Skipping. Laughing.  Overwhelmed with excitement.  Are these aspects of life that we've completely lost touch with?  And if you coincide them with essentials for seeing God's Kingdom, it's just a tad sobering, isn't it?

Nostalgia is also one of my character traits.  I don't simply think about the past; I obsess over it, especially when I screw up in life.  This is the point of my blog this morning.  I screwed up last night with my 16 year old.  I hurt him deeply, just from a word that I allowed to slip out of my mouth.  I spent most of last night beating myself up over it, and continued faithfully into the morning.  And then that little boy ran across my path.  I don't know his name, but instantaneously it became Ian.  My 16 year old boy was transformed before my eyes into this little stranger. As he laughed, I saw Ian laughing.  As he ran and jumped with excitement, I saw Ian running and jumping with excitement.  As I gazed on the innocence of this child, I remember the innocence that Ian had many years ago, and for a second, I wished that I had the ability to manipulate time.

Time races by us at light speed.  Just when we think we have all the time in the world, we are faced with the sad reality that there really is not that much at our disposal.  I remember thinking that I could not wait for Ian to grow up.  Being a parent of young children is hard.  But these days, I just want the clock to stop, if only for a few moments.  I long for those days when a single word would not cut so deeply into his psyche.  It's so hard these days.

I got up to get a refill of my iced coffee and as I walked to the counter, the little boy ran up to me, with a big smile and laughing.  I love kids, so I bantered back at him with a funny face and turning my hands into my signature snapping crab claws.  He laughed even more and reached out his arms toward me.  Mom was smiling, so I assumed it was OK to return the gesture.  I extended my arms and he jumped into them, continuing to giggle.  I guess it was a little too much, considering my emotional state this morning.  I felt tears well up in my eyes and tried to conceal them.  It wasn't a stranger that I was holding.  It was 4 year old Ian.  I remember how it felt; him holding Daddy as tight as he could.  I remember that there was a day when I could do no wrong.  I was superman.  Now I'm just an old jerk that has has trouble taming his tongue and having to end this blog immediately because I'm crying like an idiot.  Sorry.