I’m not sure that everything I write is meant to be read. I have untitled documents on my computer littered with brief flashes of inspiration. I have notebooks and post-it notes and random scrap pieces of paper covered with moments of creativity. I have written enough to fill books, but not all of it I believe is meant to be seen. Not by you. Perhaps not even by me. It is quite possible that sometimes words are merely words, scrolling through my mind with no explicit purpose.
And yet I’m a writer. I long to put my thoughts, my ideas, my stories on the page. My fingers ache to create in ink the occasional musings of an occasional madwoman. Sometimes I feel as if I have no choice but to write down what I’m feeling and thinking. Because this is my calling, is it not? To bring to life that which is locked in my swirling mind? And to have it be read?
It is easy, I think, to become consumed by our own cleverness, enamored with our words. No one could say it quite like this, we think, as we spew our words onto the page or screen, the need to say something, to leave our mark overwhelming all other intentions. We read back over our words and see bits of genius. We impress ourselves with our talent. Our ego grows as our skill with vocabulary and storytelling improves.
We live in a world of social media that raises us out of anonymity and says that we can become somebody. If we speak loud enough and with enough wit and brilliance, people will clamor for our attention. Our words are given power, and we drown in it. We watch as people like our statuses, retweet our tweets, and reblog our posts, and we become high off the affirmation of our thoughts and opinions. We are told we are right, therefore everything else we say must be right. People who agree with us gather around, all of us content in the community we’ve created for ourselves. And with the support of the like-minded, we speak up and speak louder.
But rarely do we pause and consider that perhaps there is no need to give voice to every thought. Perhaps to write in this way is nothing more than selfish, self indulgent. Perhaps this is neither the time nor the place for our opinions.
We forget to listen; forget we aren’t the only ones with a story. We forget that perhaps our words aren’t genius; our words can hurt. We forget we aren’t writing gospel.
We are blind to the idea that maybe, just maybe, we could be wrong.
Not that our stories are wrong. Our stories are the lives we’ve led and they will forever be true, because they are our experiences and our past. God gave our stories especially to each of us, and they will always be worth telling, a thing of beauty.
But in our need to say everything that occurs to us, we forget to listen. We develop tunnel vision, focusing only on what we know and what is true in relation to our story. And by doing this, we disregard those around us with different stories, different experiences, and different opinions. We inadvertently toss their stories aside in order to build ourselves and our stories up. We forget that while our stories are true, they are not Truth. Our opinions can be misinformed. Our words can hurt those who feel discarded.
And I would never want my words to wound. I would never want my words to belittle. I would never want my words to cause anyone to doubt the beauty and worth of their amazing story.
Though I want my words to challenge and invite questions, I don’t want them to be read as gospel. I don’t want them to be seen as the only side of a million coins.
Because if we, as writers, expect people to listen to what we desperately feel we must say, we need to be willing to hear, to be quiet, to take a breath and revel in the silence. Because in our silence we give someone else the chance to tell their story. We recognize that we always have something more to learn. In our silence we humble ourselves to the idea that perhaps our words do not belong in this moment. It is not always our time.
Maybe, today, someone else can say it better.
Because if we ever write merely for sake of hearing ourselves talk, we’re doing it wrong.
Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.