Ten years ago today, I birthed my words into the world for the very first time.
I was in a dark season, nursing a fussy baby and living with my parents. It was smack dab in the middle of the 50-month season of silence I discuss in Sacred Mundane. Jeff knew I needed something, an outlet, a way to express my angst and process my feelings.
He bought me karipatterson.com for $13 and told me I now had a blog.
I had never heard of a blog. At this point people had MySpace accounts, and that didn’t interest me. A blog sounded even less desirable–like a mix of a slog, a bog, and a log. None of those were appealing, but I did believe with all my heart that I was called to write.
At that point it had already been about seven years since I first heard “Sacred Mundane” whispered to my soul. I knew I was meant to live first, and eventually, write a book by this title, but I may as well have been called to walk on the moon, the distance seemed so vast between where I was and where I hoped to be.
Jeff opened the window on my browser, showed me how to click the “Publish” button, and told me to write every day.
So I did. I began with our love story, When God Broke My Heart, and went from there. I didn’t know how to add pictures or share posts (I didn’t even have a FB account). I think I had two subscribers–Jeff and my mom.
But it was a freeing place to play with words. It was fun to experiment with expression, to attempt to articulate complex emotions, conflicting feelings, confusing situations. I enjoyed the regularity of writing every day, whether I felt like it or not, knowing no one was probably reading it anyway so it was okay to just be raw and real. I wasn’t trying to wow anyone, I just enjoyed words and played with them until they best expressed my heart.
Then I tried my hand at some magazine articles. Not one of them were published.
They were awful because when I wrote them I was trying to be a good writer. Anything I’ve written while “trying to be a good writer” has usually turned out terribly. Even as I edited Sacred Mundane and revisited portions written several years ago, I could easily identify, “Oh, I was trying to be a good writer right there. Delete it all.”
Why is “trying to be a good writer” such a detriment to great writing? I believe it’s because it puts the focus on self, and nothing is more off-putting than reading a book that draws unnecessary attention to its author. Superb writing draws attention away from itself and onto the beauty of the idea expressed.
When I stopped trying to write a good book, and began loving, praying for, and caring about the people who would turn its pages, I began to write something a little more worth reading. When I stopped trying to “be good speaker” and started pouring out my heart and giving myself for the sake of the souls in those seats, then maybe I began sharing something a little more worth listening to.
Most of my time here on the blog has been rather mundane. I learned early on that in order to write well I’d need to write some trash as well. This too was freeing. But over the course of these ten years I’ve written thousands of blog posts, adding up to more than million words. For several years I wrote a new blog post every single day, as a discipline. Now I’m slowing way down, as I focus my energy more on raising my kids and (Lord willing) writing more books.
My point is simply this: What is it that you are called to do that may as well be walking on the moon, for how far away it seems?
They say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. Of course that’s not always true, but it doesn’t hurt to try. I’ve probably spent close to that many hours writing, and certainly haven’t mastered the art. I’ve spent more than that many hours parenting, and still feel hopelessly under-qualified at times.
Whatever the aim may be, I encourage you: Don’t focus on “being a good _____” (writer, parent, teacher, speaker).
Focus on the people you’re serving, loving, raising, communicating with. Focus on the glorious God who gives good gifts of words and stories and wrack your brain on how to draw attention to Him. Don’t settle for just “being a good” whatever … look beyond you to them, the ones who will read, receive, enjoy.
And remember, God’s pleasure over you does not rise and fall with the Likes, Shares, follows, or reviews you receive.
My work hidden in the shadows is just as valuable as that done in the spotlight.
What is worth ten years of your time? I’m very grateful for these ten years of tapping away on these keys. It’s been good for my heart, and I hope, in just a little way, it’s been good for yours too.
Thanks for reading.