Friday, March 16th. The 24th day of Lent.
What an amazing thing this Lenten writing discipline has been for me.
The story so far:
- Depressed and desperate, I launch my anonymous Salon blog in December of 2002. I wasn’t sure why I did it. I had a sense that in this medium I could tell the truth about myself. I was tired of the filters that came with being a pastor.
- To my surprise, people seem to like my writing. I feel so proud. Maybe I could be a “real writer.” For some reason I have obsessive thoughts of that phrase. “A REAL Writer.”
- January of 2003, Eerdmans sends me an email asking if I want to do a book. (Those were the golden years of blogging. Not that many of us, so things like this actually happened.) My head explodes with shock and delight. “?Does this mean I am a real writer?”
- Book comes out in 2004. Yay. Bit of a let down though, as it doesn’t really sell that many copies.
- Start writing essays for Christian Century in 2005. By then I had decided that I was indeed a writer, and it had nothing to do with being published.
- I wonder if maybe I could write for a living. Write Write Write Write Write Write Write. Somehow years go by.
- Eerdmans remainders my book in 2007. I honestly have no bad feelings at all about it. I’m happy, in fact, to have bought all the remaining copies for 25 cents each. The shipping costs more than the books and I am MONTHS paying it off. I build furniture out of the boxes of my books.
- I come up with an interesting idea to publish my own book by inviting my blog readers to publish it with me. The Consafo concept is born and Turtles all the Way Down is published in 2009. Lots of fun. No serious money but LOTS of fun.
- Blogging becomes boring in late 2009. I have a number of life challenges in 2010: pregnant daughter, leaving the ministry, running out of money. I decide that Real Live Preacher is done. Probably had been done for at least a year by then. My own writing bores the shit out of me. I can’t bear to look at the RLP website. That feeling remains to this day. I don’t want to read anything I wrote back then.
- I drift into professional writing gigs that take up my time. Writing for the High Calling and Laity Lodge. Writing for a number of professional clients, doing boring articles that are mostly designed to attract Google’s attention.
- I start Tertium Squid in 2011 but vow not to write for any reason other than my own desire. Consequently, I don’t write very much.
Something kind of died in me in 2010. I felt very disillusioned with ministry and writing. The two things I gave myself completely to seemd to have let me down. I worked hard at both of them, but I ended up with no money, no savings for retirement, my family struggling financially and I felt like it was my fault. I started thinking of myself as a “has been” writer. Maybe I had a chance to make something of my writing once, but I lacked the self promotional skills. Or maybe it was that self promotion makes me want to throw up.
Lent 2012 arrives. I’m on the verge of becoming an Episcopalian and I don’t even know why. On a whim I decide that my Lenten discipline will be to write every night during Lent. Whatever it takes, I will write something. Milton does it. Maybe I can do it.
Hey, writing every night is what it is. Some of what I’ve written is rather pedestrian. Whatever. But there are sparks of something familiar in some of it. I’m beginning to remember how I used to write. I need SOMETHING driving me. And then I dip into my unconscious and stuff starts pouring out. I’m getting excited again. I’m not the same writer I was in 2002 when I began Real Live Preacher, of course. I think I’m more polished, but I’m also more self conscious, in spite of what I said in my writing manifesto.
But this has been good for me. And I’m only halfway through Lent. I may come through this a changed writer. Back in touch with something essential inside of me.
I don’t know. It’s too early to tell for sure. But I feel something inside that I haven’t felt in awhile. Something both new and old. Something familiar.
And I like it.