I’m a little late reading and discussing it this week because we had family here until yesterday, but this is one chapter I did not want to miss.
I’ve enjoyed writing since I was very young: poetry as a child and teen-ager, various journals (which I am grieved to say I threw away in my teens), letters, a handful of magazine articles, a few magazine columns, several years’ worth of monthly newsletters for a church ladies’ group, and a nearly 7 year old blog. I’ve always enjoyed expressing myself in that way, and find I can think things through more easily by writing about them. It’s hard to work through a swirling tangle of thoughts, and by writing I can take a strand at a time, pin it down, and then sort through them all.
I’ve often wondered if God might have something more for me to do with writing. For years I’ve had a desire to write a book, but I don’t know if that’s just a personal ambition or something from the Lord. Edith encouraged me by saying, “Writing for the enjoyment of expression – like music or painting – does not need an audience of more than one,” and “If you simply love to write and want to do it, my advice is write. But write without ambitious pride, which makes you feel it is a ‘waste’ to write what will never be published. Write to communicate to someone, even if it is literally only one person. It is not a waste to write beautiful prose or poetry for one person’s eyes alone! (p. 136).
She mentions several homey ways to write: notes in lunchboxes, cards, letters, writing out our prayers and praises to God, etc. She challenges us to write not just for people whose views are similar to our own. I love her description of trying to “formulate something in writing which will give them the feeling that they have been spending the evening with you, toasting their toes at the same fireplace with a pot of steaming tea by their sides while you have talked earnestly to them” (pp. 137-138).
She encourages us, too, that not everything we write will be a “masterpiece,” or “accomplish its purpose, and more than each meal is going to be the ‘perfect meal’ or each painting the ‘perfect painting,'” but each time we write we can do so “in a way which comes across as giving of oneself” (p. 140).
I received a thoughtful, handwritten thank you note this morning, a treasure in this electronic age, and can enjoy the reading of it over and over and the remembrance of my friend and our time together. Some of my treasures are letters, especially those from my mom, who did not write much (she preferred calling to writing), especially now that she has passed on. I have little from my maternal grandmother, who dies when I was four, besides two handwritten recipes, another treasure.
I was reminded, while reading this chapter, that Laura Ingalls Wilder and other writers didn’t start until later in life, and that she wrote magazine columns before books. That encourages me that sometimes things that have to be left on the back burner are more flavorful for their time there. Isobel Kuhn, a very expressive writer, began by writing “circular letters” of the people they ministered to in China for their supporters, lively descriptions rather than bare-faced facts and figures, and out of that grew her writing of several books. That encourages me that writing “where we are” can develop the skills for a wider audience later.
So I am encouraged and refocused, to write as unto Him, to write as giving of myself, to write to encourage others, to write earnestly so as to make the other feel they’re right beside me, and to trust Him for leading, guidance, and grace to write in whatever venues He provides.