It was seven words.
In third grade I stole a necklace.
I typed them in the cold basement, hunched over the keyboard with my bulky red fleece robe pulled up to my ears.
And then I typed more, in early mornings and late nights and in fragments squeezed between stirring noodles and buttering bread, between folding dish towels and pulling rocks from the washer. Those seven words became 104,000 in two years. And in that time I wrote myself, with God’s grace, straight into faith.
It was foreign ground, this faith. Having abandoned God twenty years prior (or perhaps I never knew him at all?) words on the page and screen tread an unfamiliar path toward him. I didn’t even realize it at first – I simply thought I was writing my life. Turns out, I was writing toward life.
When I wrote that seven-word sentence and then more four years ago, I wrote to believe, to find my way into belief. Not much has changed since then. I still write to believe every day.
You see, I’m the kind of person who lives fast. I talk fast – my Nana used to say it was the French in me – I drive fast, I clean fast, I read fast, I type fast. I am a champion multi-tasker. Let anyone challenge me to a multi-tasking duel, and I assure you, I shall win.
The trouble with living fast, of course, is that I miss things. Big things, small things, pretty much everything. Without words on the page, I miss God in the everyday.
When I first started to write I worried that it was cheating to walk through each day with an eye toward what my life might produce for the page. Did I experience life, really live it, or did I simply observe it through a viewfinder to record for later?
What I’ve realized, though, is that writing compels me to look at everyday nuances more closely in the present. Writing slows me down, helps me absorb.
Writing helps me see, feel, smell, hear, breathe. Praise.
Light on auburn eyelashes. Splash of scarlet on the woodpecker’s speckled back. Chanel No. 5 wafting from the lady stooped over her cane. Humming chorus burrowing into coneflower blossoms. Owl calling in slate-blue morn.
If I didn’t write, I might walk right on by. Writing primes me to see God more clearly than ever before.
I see holiness everywhere. I tread on holy ground, look around, see, worship.
And then I write. Because for me, to write is to live and relive and live right.
Talking about why we write over at Ann Voskamp’s place today. Why do you write?