Writing as me and no one else

It doesn’t matter how much I want to write.  The writing and getting to the writing is the hard part.

In high school and college, I wrote constantly.  I journaled, I wrote poetry, I wrote fiction, and it just flowed.  I would sit down and write, and the crafted words would just come out.  What came out of me was actually pretty good writing that made people stop, read, look at me and want to talk about what they had just read.

I majored in English in college and I wrote plenty in that program, but, looking back, I have wished I had been able to find a writing degree  instead of just an English program that was much more focused on reading for the purpose of teaching than writing for the purpose of writing.

My dad is a published author many times over in the non-fiction realm.  When I was a child, he would disappear to his “study”, which was the dining room table that he’d taken over with books and an electric typewriter in that formal dining room we never used.  My evenings after dark were spent to the gentle hum of that typewriter off in the distance and his pecking away at the keys.  He would take breaks, eat a snack over the kitchen sink in our small galley kitchen, and then he would get back to his quick-paced hunting and pecking.

My dad has never formally learned to type in the ways I was taught to type in high school.  He still hunts and pecks on a keyboard faster than anyone I know.  It’s incredible to watch.  He would sit in the study, night after night, hunting and pecking away, building a book manuscript on pieces of typing paper.  I once met his editor, and she was a serious lady who knew how to slice and dice his manuscripts to make them brilliant.

He also had a newsletter that he would manually mail out back in the day.  My first job was typing in his newsletter subscriber  addresses into our Apple computer database software.  He was also always working on articles for periodicals, and the massive Writer’s Market volume was a constant around our house.

I grew up wanting to write like he wrote.  I wanted to publish books and articles and be known for my knowledge and for my nuances.  It was a very early goal (besides running for President).

Around sixth grade, I wrote an article outlining tips to get autographs on baseball memorabilia.  I submitted that article to a national baseball cards periodical, and they bought it!  They sent me a check for $20 and published my article with a byline, and I was so proud.  My dad was proud, too.  It was an incredible start to my career as a published author.

Through college, I worked at the local newspaper doing a combination of technical and creative work, including photography, layout, proofreading and editing.  I was never satisfied with how much writing opportunity I had at the newspaper.  I would wait intently for the week the sports editor would go on vacation so I could fill his spot and write actual articles for the newspaper.  I loved having a byline with my name on it alongside words that I had crafted specifically for those readers.

I think it all changed when I went to law school.  Law school changed both my thought processes but also my life processes.  The intensity of work gave me less time to pursue creative outlets, including writing for my own sake.

Law school pushed forward the more technical, more non-fiction part of my brain.  In doing so, it shifted how my mind settled in quiet moments, and honestly, I lost some of my whimsical creativity.  Everything running through my brain shifted into a technical processing of facts and details into theories and meanings.  It wasn’t bad.  It was just different.

It’s now almost 20 years later.  Life has become a version of busy that I never anticipated —  insanely busy sometimes.  I have a wife, a gaggle of kids, a career, commitments, and a life that doesn’t stop moving at many levels.  It’s hard to fit additional things into my life that I don’t really love and that I’m not really passionate about.  Just managing the daily details of our life is enough to keep anyone busy full time, but I’m still drawn to write.

I enjoy writing, and I write as lawyer, but it’s mostly drafting documents.  I feel I have really good at technical document drafting.  But I want more.

 Over the years, I have written some informational, promotional and periodical articles when asked to do so for work or for church.  At one point, I even wrote a recurring newsletter for our church’s small groups ministry.  I have run a few blogs and found a creative outlet there, but even then, I was mostly focusing on politics and religion (or coffee).  I’ve become more of an “expert” than a “creative,” although I’m still a very creative expert.  Over time, I’ve lost sight of that dream of being a “writer,” but it’s still lingering.

And now I find myself here — a dad, a husband, a professional, a middle-aged man — and I want to write.  I’m feeling a constant urge to write *something*, *anything*.  About a year ago, a friend challenged me to start journaling, and I did.  Then I set up a new blog space (this one), and wrote a little bit.

Interestingly, last December, my writing process fell apart.  I was talking to a trusted friend who enjoys tracking me, and he had read the few blog posts I had written.  In that conversation, he encouraged me to actually write *me* — not just ivory tower, preachy thoughts.  He has read other random, passionate posts of mine over time, primarily on social media, and he told me that my writing on my blog was nothing like what he knew of the real me.  He challenged me to write with meaning and honesty and out of the real me.

I took his encouragement to heart, and then I got stuck.  He was right.  I wasn’t writing me.  I was just writing to write something and be someone who wrote.

I has taken me most of a year to settle into a place of figuring out how to sit down and do my best to just write out of the person I am instead of writing out of a person I envision people want me to be out in fake Internet land.

For the last several weeks, I’ve daily said I was going to write.  And I haven’t.  And I understand that writing is a discipline that I just must do.  But there has been more to my struggle to write.

I have not been writing because I don’t want to disappoint myself.

I have not been writing because I don’t want disapproval of my closest people.

I have not been writing because I don’t want to realize that no one cares what I write.

I have not been writing because I don’t want to write something that triggers negative reactions, whether from myself, my closest people, or any third party out of there, whether they know me or not.

I have not been writing simply out of fear — pretty much fear of rejection.

Here I am writing anyway.  And, I’ll tell you, my heart is racing.  I’m not writing out of the deep engaged passion of a writer who can’t stop (although there is some of that mixed in).  I’m writing to get over the hurdle of anxiety of not writing well enough to be proud of what I’m doing.  Honestly, I know I will do well, but only if I write out of me.

If I write as a persona of a person that I think people want me to be, this won’t work.  And if I write gripped with fear of disappointing or offending other people, this won’t work.  I just have to write and reach deep inside, dig through the surface, and get past the facade I hold up that I think is the writer people want.

Instead, I need to write as just me.  Let’s do this.

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