By: Jana Greene
Observations from Outside of the Circle
A Writer Looks at 50 First Blog Posts
My dear friend, Liz, and I were at the beach, watching her six-year-old son play. He had found a long stick of driftwood and was using it to draw a tight circle around himself in the sand. When he was done, he sat down in the center, knees drawn up to his chest.
“It keeps the monsters out,” he said, matter-of-factly. With the imagination of a child, he enjoyed the safety of his circle. Pleased with himself, pleased with the illusion that he was safe…that although he could get out, nobody else could get in. It reminded me of writing.
I don’t think I’ve ever written every day for fifty days in a row before. Even though it’s my passion, I’m too wonky and inconsistent to employ the self-discipline. But today, as I write the 50th blog post for The Beggar’s Bakery, I am keenly aware that I have so much to learn about the craft.
Learning be true to my own story. God didn’t give me a love for writing so that I can be someone else’s mouthpiece. I’m working on the bad habit of second-guessing myself all of the time.
Learning to be as honest as I can. This is difficult, because when I write in my most honest voice, I will potentially offend/shock/elate/disappoint/inflame/inspire/make nauseous any number of friends and strangers.
Learning to treat heavy subject matter with gentle care. Addiction, rejection, the difficult aspects of parenting and marriage, self-condemnation and the theology of grace. And that could be the combined topic for any given Tuesday. “Keeping it real” may help someone in a similar situation know that they are not alone. At the very least, it helps keep me humble, sober and realistic.
Learning to appreciate the writing community. I have gotten to know other writers who, much like sponsors in recovery, love to encourage new bloggers. They are amazingly, selflessly supportive.
Learning to let others IN. Anyone who has battled addictions knows that you protect your secret with your life, until it becomes your entire life to protect it. By it’s very nature, alcoholism demands keeping others out. It just makes sense to me, then, that recovery means letting others in.
At some point during the past 50 days, I realized that I don’t want to live in a tight little circle anymore; writing to be pleased with myself, pleased with the illusion that I am safe…. that although I can get out, nobody else can get in. That self-drawn circle is cramped and predictable, and the edges are the same in every direction. Writing is stepping out of self-preservation in order to let others in. It is running full on- to the sand, inviting others to join me, even though the tide keeps rearranging the landscape.
Constantly rearranging it.
And what about the monsters that the circle was supposed to keep out?
Honestly, none of my monsters has ever respected my boundaries anyway.