But I just finished reading a book that I'd seen recommended by a number of people in recent months, If You Want to Write, by Barbara Ueland. It's a fun read because the author is a character. She says exactly what she's thinking, and it doesn't matter that I don't agree with all of her philosophies. It's easy to sort those out and find the nuggets that are true because she's so straightforward, not to mention interesting. And as I do want to write, I have found a lot that I could take home.
For one, she emphasizes that when it comes down to it, every person is "talented, original and has something important to say." The problem is that we tend to either exalt ourselves in our own eyes and so come off sounding like conceited prigs, or we downplay everything we are to the point we become dull as old knives. Neither of those are qualities God desires in us. In His eyes, we are talented, original, and beautifully important--we don't need to prove anything. So, if we desire to write (or paint, teach, sing, research, engineer--anything!), then write, and write what we feel, think, etc. It doesn't matter if no one reads it. If it never gets published, who cares? Get it out!
I needed that encouragement, because writing for me is such a great form of therapy. It helps me get thoughts organized, I feel like I'm using my creativity, and as a result, other things get done better. I'm more on task with home projects and I'm more patient with the kids. There are so many times that I've started to write something and God opens my eyes to truths about Him that I wouldn't have grasped if I hadn't put my questions out there in print. And as a result I know better how to deal with a problem, or God just becomes so much more real to me.
My absolute favorite chapter title was "Why Women Who Do Too Much Housework Should Neglect It for Their Writing." I wish I could say the doing "too much housework" was one of my faults, but despite that, I love Ueland's point. She talks about how we give ourselves up for our families so much that we neglect ourselves, and when we don't feed our own passions (the good kind of passions) we end up hurting our families.
"You make them physically more comfortable. But you cannot effect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. And how to be something yourself? Only by working hard and with gumption at something you love and care for and think is important.
"So if you want your children to be musicians, then work at music yourself, seriously and with all your intelligence. If you want them to be scholars, study hard yourself. If you want them to be honest, be honest yourself. And so it goes.
"And that is why I would say to the worn and hectored mothers in the class who longed to write and could find not a minute for it:
"'If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say: "Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse!" you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably become playwrights.'"So I plan to write, whether here or elsewhere. And something will come of it, I know: God will use it to mold me more into whom He desires me to be, and because it is a joy for me, I will blossom, and I pray my family will, too. What better purpose is there than that?