Writing in the 21st century can be hard.
On one hand, it seems most people are convinced they have something new and important to say about every conceivable topic. The market is flooded. It isn’t a very novel thing (pardon the pun) to call yourself a writer in any capacity these days, regardless of what type of writing you enjoy.
On the other hand, there aren’t actually that many people who fully, genuinely appreciate the power of written words. This manifests in two ways. Either we restrict our writing to 280 characters – thereby training ourselves not to care as much about nuance, implication, and full comprehension – or we cease to pay any attention at all to written words, choosing instead to flood our lives with an endless supply of podcasts, vlogs, movies, shows, and funny videos. There is no space in our too-busy schedules to fit in 90 seconds where we sit and scroll mindfully through an impactful article or finish two more pages in a good book.
But I don’t think the written word will ever become totally irrelevant to us. Humans throughout history have always made significant efforts to transcribe their thoughts, even in cultures that we define as “illiterate.” And as a Christian, I believe God cares deeply about written words, seeing as how He chose it for the medium of His special self-revelation in the Scriptures. We should care deeply about words, as creatures made in His image. This can involve an effort to be faithful readers or faithful writers.
I’ve been thinking lately about what it looks like for me to be a faithful reader and writer. As much as I think everyone should care about both, I don’t believe we are each called to read and write according to one universally-prescribed capacity. Even so, I don’t think I have reached a place where I can say I’ve honored this particular calling on my life. I hope God has used my writing to glorify Himself and benefit other people – and I think, according to feedback I’ve received, that He has been faithful to do this even in my unfaithfulness.
The unfaithfulness I’m referring to includes both my neglect of regular writing and my failure to resist comparing my own call to writing with the call others have received. The rebranding of my blog in late 2018 is one good example of this. I believed that the only legitimate way for me to write was on a well-established blog with a large reader base; a very specific subject range (theology from a stay-at-home-wife’s perspective); and a conventional process for thinking, planning, and composing my articles. It seemed that if I wanted to be a “successful” writer, I should try to fit as neatly as possible into the image of other similar writers.
Unsurprisingly, what ended up happening is that keeping a blog turned into a chore and a frustration. I became discouraged when it seemed like my site received little traffic after I worked so hard to create good content. I seethed with envy when I realized I rarely had anything to say about current issues that others weren’t already saying better. I panicked over broken links and layouts. And in approaching the blog this way, I neutralized what should have been a fruitful resource for processing and sharing my life.
So, do I keep blogging?
I think the answer is yes . . . but it requires that some things change in the future. As of right now, I anticipate this means the blog transitions into something akin to a family journal where I (and my husband) can still write thoughtful articles about culture and theology while creating space for more informal, personal material as well. Already my perfectionist heart fears that this will come across as unprofessional and messy and fragmented. I fear I will lose too many readers who appreciate more structure and formality in the writing they consume. But there is plenty of that available elsewhere, and I don’t begrudge anyone who seeks it out.
I guess my point here is that there is a difference between creative expression as a career and creative expression as an essential function of fruitful, daily, mindful living, and I want to take part in that kind of living . . . coram Deo living . . . living “in the presence of God.”
I hope you stick around as we explore what that looks like at the Hageman house in 2020 and beyond.