When I was in high school I was never good at creative writing. Whenever a teacher assigned a creative writing project I was stressed. How would I think of a story? When I was a senior many students took a creative writing elective. I did not take it. I was convinced that I would do poorly in that class, and I probably would have. I also did not care for research report assignments with two exceptions that I can recall: my 11th grade history paper on the Aztecs and my senior English research paper on Beowulf. I enjoyed both of them because both covered very interesting topics.
When I was in college I preferred taking a test over writing a paper because I could sit in class, take the test, and be done with it. In seminary I enjoyed some of my papers. My dissertation was interesting, but after working on it for so long it felt like a mountain I would never pass. Finishing it lifted a huge burden from my shoulders.
As I explained here I struggled with finding a job in ministry. I started an apologetics blog with the hope that it would get my name out and help me get a job. I also did a great amount of reading which was vital to forming my views on some important issues. Through writing the blog I discovered that I enjoyed writing. Some of my happiest moments were when I was sitting at my computer writing a blog post on an interesting topic. I remember one time at church I had an idea for a post. I was so eager to go home and write it that I did not check with my friends to see if they were going to eat somewhere. Instead I just went home to write. I also wrote an article responding to Richard Dawkins for the Christian Research Journal.
Eventually my posts on that blog became less and less frequent until I stopped completely. I have not posted to that blog since 2011. Aside from a yearly article for a ministry in Raleigh I went through a period of no writing. This added to the struggles over not finding a job. I knew I enjoyed writing, but I did not know what to write.
I tried some creative writing (short stories), but I kept running into writer’s block and quit. Again I went through a period of no writing which contributed to my struggles, but the desire to write nagged me. I have long been interested in the Protestant Reformation in 16th century western Europe, and for years I have thought that contemporary evangelicalism needed another Reformation. I toyed with the idea of a new blog on that subject and eventually started my blog In Light of the Reformation.
I later started this blog as an outlet for writing about miscellaneous topics that do not fit a theological blog and for writing on subjects that will require little or no research and will allow me to focus simply on writing. The idea came to me at work. I had recently spent part of a Saturday in Athens and at the University of Georgia. While eating lunch, partially so that I could have fun writing, I wrote a Facebook post reflecting on what has changed since I graduated. While at work I decided to make that the first post of new blog, and during my lunch break I wrote my ideas on a piece of cardboard cut from a box of items that I had been stocking.
I have also begun work on some short stories. As I said above, I kept hitting against writer’s block during my previous attempts and gave up. However, my ideas would not leave me alone. Sometimes I feel like something inside me wants to break out and get past these insufficiencies. For now I am not worrying about whether I can publish anything. I am writing what I can and learning what I can and trying to enjoy the ride.
Through this process something interesting has happened. I have become more driven to write some each day, and I do not feel right if I have not spent some time writing. When I am at work I am often eager for break time or lunch so that I can work on some notes, and I am eager to go home so that I can write. However, even though I am driven to write, I sometimes struggle with beginning and with focusing once I have begun. It is an odd combination. It is also hard on some days to write because I am always tired after a day of manual labor. Nonetheless, I strive to leave room in my schedule each day for writing. I wish my job left more time for writing, but for now I must do the best with what I have.
The graphic at the top of this post quotes Victor Hugo saying that “A writer is a world trapped inside a person.” That is how I feel sometimes. I have ideas inside, and I want to express them. I am coming back to writing. Hopefully my theological blog can help Christians live for Christ today, and in this blog I hope to have fun reflecting on various topics that interest me and just enjoy the process of writing about them. (By the way, if you know the source of the Hugo quote please post it in a comment. I would love to read it in context.)