Pitfalls of Tongue and Pen

I recently joined an online writer’s group through a Christian website called (in)Courage.  Each Friday we are encouraged to write a blog.  This week we had three choices from which to choose…I chose option #1 which was to select a quote from chapter 1 of the book we’re reading and write about how this quote spoke to me and how I related to it.   The book we are reading for the “class”  is called, The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard.

As I read the first chapter, there were many quotes that jumped out at me, so it was difficult to decide about which quote to write.  I decided to compile a few of them that had the same thought.  The first two quotes come from page eleven where Annie is speaking about putting a book together.

The first quote was “Your freedom as a writer is not freedom of expression in the sense of wild blurting; you may not let rip.”

As I read this quote, I was somewhat “convicted” in my heart as to my own speech.  I have been told that I am opinionated, and am prone to speak my mind.  Those with whom I share my concerns or opinions know I mean well, yet they may not always appreciate my point of view. The reason being, they haven’t asked for my advice or opinion about a certain matter.

I guess one could look at this as “wild blurting that I let rip.”

I appreciated this quote that reminded me to choose my words carefully and to do so with much wisdom and discernment.  I need to keep this in mind not only when I speak directly to someone, but also when putting my words in writing.

The second quote was also on page eleven and said,  “The obverse of this freedom, of course, is that your work is so meaningless, so fully for yourself alone, and so worthless to the world, that no one except you cares whether you do it well, or ever.”

Not having appreciated vocabulary in school, I had to look up the word, “obverse.”   It basically means,  “the opposite.”  As I pondered this quote and reread it numerous times to better understand what Annie was saying,  I understood it to mean that when I write, I am basically doing so for myself and no one else.  My words, whether written or spoken might, at times, seem meaningless or worthless to the reader or hearer.

What a perfect opportunity not to take this situation personally but to use it as a reminder to how unique we all are…I can use both positive and negative responses to my words as a means to improving the way I write and speak!

I was thankful for a perfect illustration to this thought as I was having my quiet time.  As I read Matthew 27:44 which says, “And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way,” it dawned on me that Matthew didn’t share as much detail with us as the other writers of the Gospels did about the two robbers who were crucified on either side of Jesus.  This thought helped me realize how different we all are in our personalities and that my style of writing can’t be compared with anyone else’s! 🙂

The last quote was on page 17.  In this paragraph, Annie was speaking about the written word being weak and how many people prefer life to it.  She continued to say that “This writing that you do, that so thrills you, that so rocks and exhilarates you, as if you were dancing next to the band, is barely audible to anyone else.”  As I thought about this quote, I connected with her words because these are the emotions I have when I write! 🙂  I need to keep in mind that what thrills and exhilarates me when I write, might not always bring about the same emotions to the reader.

My heart’s desire is to be an encouragement to others and to share the Gospel through the means of writing.  I have chosen to use my gift of writing in a way that allows those who read my words to know what God has done and is continuing to do in my heart and life.  So, there’s no holding back as I share the good, the bad and the ugly that God, who began the work in me, will bring to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).  Knowing this, I must write with discernment, choosing words using God’s wisdom and not my own.   My “wisdom” will only puff me up and be a cause for stumbling and will not be a good example of being like Christ!


3 thoughts on “Pitfalls of Tongue and Pen

  1. I need to share how much I appreciate my husband helping me edit my writing…he’s been such a help as I’m learning to better myself in writing…after thinking about numerous titles for this blog, my husband gets the credit for this one! 🙂

  2. I really loved reading your thoughts here, Kelley, and all the quotes you chose. I pondered over the first two quotes for a long time. I interpreted the second quote a little differently. Since she was talking about the freedom in which you have to do your work, I felt she was saying you actually have to be diligent to make sure your work is not worthless or meaningless. No one will notice your work until it is finished – therefore it would be easy to give up or never finish. A body of writing like a manuscript is not only for ourselves but for others.

    However, there are times when writing is just for us and like your interpretation. 🙂 I enjoyed how you encourage us to just be ourselves as we write, not worried about comparison.

    • thanks for your thoughts, Jamie, as to your take on what Annie meant…isn’t it neat how we can all have such different interpretations as to the meaning of words?! 🙂 I’m sure your interpretation is probably more along the lines as to
      what Annie was trying to get across! 🙂

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