To Write Boldly

20150417-123644.jpgOn a Tuesday, after a surprise spring storm (which my boss sent me running through to deliver what would turn out to be a very rain-splattered commission check) I had the joy of riding home from work with my fiance. Normally I drive myself and although the radio is decent company, Chase is always preferred.

While we were driving over the wet ground and under the bright sky, I was encouraged to hear that he had just been reading not one post, not two, but my entire blog. Then he proceeded to say lots of nice things that are far beyond what I deserve.

Since the beginning of getting to know him, it’s been clear to me that reading my blog was part of what inspired him to pop out of nowhere and pursue me with more determination than any boy ever has. In short, my writing helped Chase, well, chase me. (clearly it wasn’t my comedic genius.)

I have been asked several times why I started writing a blog.  If you look back far enough you’ll find that it started as a place to share my artwork for my senior independent study. But the writing, the part where thoughts and feelings are posted for anyone to see, that’s the part that has been questioned, not always in  a cynical light but often out of innocent curiosity.

Despite how things turned out, the purpose was not to attract a dashing husband. It was a much simpler equation: I love to write and I ought to write.

Before I could write on my own, my young and unreasonably small-for-her-age self would illustrate storybooks, then dictate to anyone who was willing the words I wanted on each page. Seeing as my mother was not a stenographer, she quickly became irritated with this and told me I had to write my own stories. Forced to battle spelling and grammar alone (because “How do you spell ____________?” every other second became equally as annoying) storybook writing became less of a game and more of a self-inflicted chore. But as a child who thought too much and spoke too little, it was a chore I was always determined to master. And as I worked at it, I became increasingly less willing to let anyone read anything I wrote. Even things that were trivial and impersonal had to be hidden away and guarded as a total secret. As a little word hoarder, nothing was quite so conflicting as the teacher choosing to read my work aloud to the class. Hurray! She thinks I’m talented…. Oh no! She’s reading it out loud.

While valiant efforts at “I don’t care what they think,” were repeated in my head, the only true comfort was in knowing that the particularly judgmental classmates couldn’t be bothered to listen anyways. My writing was still safe and sound. However, wanting something to be “safe and sound” can often just be a thinly veiled form of cowardice.

As someone who enjoys singing and acting, I know that the more those talents are preformed, the more they improve. Writing is much the same. I can spend my whole life scribbling on notebook paper then tucking it away in a drawer (Which I still often do. This blog is heavily censored by yours truly, not a journal.) but that will never improve who I am in the same way that saying, “Here is what my creator has given me. Let me share it,” has already done.

If every poem and painting I ever unfolded was hidden forever, I would still continue because I delight in creating art and I know God does too. But if I can further share this delight, I will.

20150417-122156.jpgJust as those who love baking ought to make cookies to be eaten and those who love sewing ought to fashion clothes to be worn, those who love writing ought to form stories to be read.

I have been so deeply blessed by the writing of others. And I know that those writers have been deeply blessed by sharing that which they have been given.

So to all the writers, write. If you are like me, you will become braver and bolder. You will not falter so easily under fear and intimidation.

And as an added bonus, a cute nerdy boy might recognize you and yell at you from across the street. But that is completely beside the point.

Still, you never know what’s happening behind the scenes while you are busy being who you were designed to be. 

//wander//

 

 


 

NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST

– J.R.R. TOLKIEN –

 


 

Idaho.

Forests, rivers, wanderers in pickup trucks.

A man with a cardboard sign stands on gravel across the road from a bar called the Plantation, a Chinese restaurant that smells like stale cigarettes and an unfinished church office, all on the same corner. My brain goes off on a tangent that I believe was caused by the Chinese restaurant. Something about how the one downtown is better because the manager is kind and pretty and the wonton soup tastes even better when it rains… Before I can continue on to puddles and wet hair and all the best things that come with rain, the truck jolts and I’m back by the bar, the Chinese restaurant and the church office. My dad is pulling over…

With a smile and a nod, the hitchhiker jogs up to our Ford.
“Hey, do you mind riding in the back?” my dad asks pointing to the bed of the truck.
“Not at all, man! I’m trying to get to McCall.”
“Alright, we’re headed that way, hop in.”
My dad gets out to help the man and his bike safely into the bed of the truck. I just smile and wave. Dad helping out wanderers is commonplace. Honestly this bearded roadside guy appears to have more figured out in life than I do. He can say with complete confidence that he would like to go to McCall. I can say with complete confidence that I would like to go… somewhere with coffee…? Or without coffee. I really don’t care at this point as long as I get somewhere.

There are a few things I learned about this man along our journey: His name is Steve. He had just completed biking the state of Idaho when he met us. He has a friend who is also named Kira. He likes the way she says, “Keep it real, always.”

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As we drive I glance at our wanderer in the rear-view mirror. He’s looking around, eyeing Idaho and all her beauty. She’s a curvy broad with her rolling hills in all the right places, flowers at her feet and birds in her hair. Staring at her is a given for anyone who is not blind.

The road continues on to the winding Lewiston grade. I think I’d be scared if I were in the back of a stranger’s truck, rushing past so many semis and clunkers turn after turn. But not this guy… If he ever had a worrier’s mind, he let it go a long time ago. He has the look of someone who’s known peace not just as a passerby but as a close friend.

When we drop him off in McCall, he still seems genuinely grateful, even though he just spent hours in the freezing wind, sitting on bark in a truck bed. What matters to him his that he’s made it to his next step. He’s that much closer to home in Oregon.

As less than inspired conversationalists, my dad and I speak to him briefly and without much intention. Then my dad shakes his hand and hitchhiker Steve walks out of the gas station parking lot and down the sleepy streets of McCall.

“Sorry I couldn’t think of anything meaningful to say to him,” my dad says to me as we climb back into the truck.

“I think helping him and saying nothing is better than saying the right thing and doing nothing.”
“Very true…” he replies, “That was deep.”
“Not really.”
“Any deeper and I’d need scuba gear.”
I smirk. The line about deep conversation requiring scuba gear is from another traveler he once met along the way.

“Keep it real always…” I say in my best Steve voice.

“Keep it real always,” he laughs.

And we wander on.

 

Muse (1)

Be my muse so I can write a story about the way you burn toast and leave your socks on the floor. I don’t know if anyone else will think the story is any good, but it will be my favorite. I will write a chapter on how you can’t hold a pitch but I still love to hear you sing, a chapter on your blue car with a rip in the back seat, a chapter about your once red hoodie now fading to pink. You still wear it anyway because you like the way my nose crinkles when you take it off and throw it onto me.

Two chapters will tell about staying up ‘til dawn, laughing at all we’ve left behind. A chapter and a half to show that I was wrong when I ran away, wasting my time.

A page to retell how I knew you unequivocally, but only as a child when we went frog hunting in the pond.

A paragraph for your favorite book, which you read five times in the seventh grade.

A sentence for the tattoo you regret.

A word for when you close your eyes.

The story isn’t being paced quite right. Authors cringe and editors turn me away but I just keep writing because it reminds me of you and I never want you to go away.

So another chapter about when we debate never-ending subjects in the sunshine.

Two more about fist fights with your cousins in the snow.

Another about baking Angel Food Cake just so you could throw flour in my hair.

Then another for the laughter that sang from the ground up as I watched you get stuck in our favorite tree.

One more about scotch by the riverside.

Be my muse and I’ll write it all down.