Psst…I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

It’s something that every writer knows, so perhaps it’s not too secret.

But here it is: Writing is really, really hard.

Painful, really.

We agonize (true agony, I tell you!) over each letter. Each word. Each word combo. Each comma. (Should it even be a comma? Or would a period be best there? Maybe it should be an exclamation point!)

In short, it is torture.

And we do it all in a quiet room with no one else around. (Which, to introverts everywhere, might sound a bit like paradise.) Until those inevitable, venomous thoughts start to spiral and there’s no one there to help corral them.

Every writer goes through this, even the greatest writers of all time. J.R.R. Tolkien, for instance, endured intense painful doubt while he was writing some little project called The Lord of the Rings.

Who would care about Middle Earth? he mused angrily. Who would care about a made up elvish language??

Then, a fellow in his writing group piped up. He cared, he said. He thought the story needed to be told. The world needed it. He needed it. He saw Tolkien’s vision for the project and knew it was worth fighting for.

And thus, with that one voice of encouragement, The Lord of the Rings was born. (That encouraging fellow, by the way, was none other than the impeccable C.S. Lewis. Imagine being in their writing group…)

You see, writing is really, really, hard.

Because, though the writer is alone in the room, they’re writing a message that burns within them. A message that is intended to be shared with all the people who are not in the room. A message, dear reader, that is intended to be shared with you.

So we writers grind and bleed, wrestling the words forth from our veins, hoping against hope that our message is clear, that it makes sense, that it will have some impact on the people who read it.

But there we are. Still alone. Unable to see the effect of our words or the fruits of our terrible, excruciating labor. Unable to understand and believe that our message matters. That our work is worth fighting for. That sharing our voice, our thoughts, our hearts is worth enduring this utter agony.

And that makes it feel as though we’re not alone at all. No, it’s much worse than being alone. Instead, we’re shouting our message to a crowded room with such vulnerability that we may as well be standing stark naked. Then, once we’ve laid every ounce of our heart bare before the world, feeling exposed and raw and bloody, we await a response.

But there is none. No one’s listening. Or so it seems. We’re alone, and yet, we’re not. It’s as though everyone else stands beside us, disinterested, staring blankly at our naked, bloody, exhausted self.

It’s weird.

But like I said, every writer goes through this. Including me.

In fact, that’s one reason you haven’t heard much from me lately.

I cranked out 20,000 words on two projects back in April (which, for me—a lady who is constantly surrounded by swarming children—is nearly miraculous.) Then life steamrolled me in May and June, making it impossible to write one single word. Come July, I sat at my computer, staring despairingly at my manuscript.

Who would care about this? I mused angrily. It would be so much easier to stop this madness. Just throw in the towel and be done with it.

And I did.

I decided in that moment to stop. To be done. And for once, I didn’t feel shame in that.

But I could only revel in that relief for about half a second. Because in that moment—and I mean THE moment I officially decided to stop writing for good—I heard from a friend who I haven’t spoken with in years.

And it was this:

This book, Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson, was all about finding and following God’s vocation for writers. And I drank it in with one big gulp, as a wanderer in the desert thirsts for water.

So you see, friend, for some inexplicable reason, God has called me to this.

He, in this moment, was my C.S. Lewis. (Imagine being in a writing group with God…)

Because of that, I must give Him my fiat. I must act. I must write.

So here I am, returning to the keys, ignoring the trembling in my fingertips as I give you a bit of my soul. Please be gentle with it. And, on the off chance you know a writer (I’ll send a few your way), read their work. Reach out to them. Let them know you hear them. Let them know you see them. Let them know their writing is worth fighting for. For you, friend, have no idea how much your words matter to us.

Much love,

Kelsey

9 Comments on “Psst…I’m going to let you in on a little secret…”

  1. I’m glad you’re not giving up (though I’ve been there myself several times and know how dark and overpowering those moments can be). Your writing is a blessing–whether fiction or non-fiction–and I would be a lesser person for not having gotten to know you through your writing. I can’t even recall how we first came across each other now, but I know it had to do with your blog (i.e., your writing). Keep persisting, and keep being patient. The world moves at a faster pace than God most of the time, which can be frustrating for those of us trying to hear His voice amongst the jostle of people screaming at us to speed up, write this, blog that, podcast this, tiktok that. (Can I even use “tiktok” as a verb? Haha. I clearly don’t use that platform.)

    Yesterday I published a post on my group blog, Storyteller Squad. I’ll link it here, in the hopes it will encourage you. Cuz I wrote it to encourage and remind ME, a slow writer in a fast-paced writing world, that as long as we write for the Lord, we’ve already achieved “success” in His eyes, despite what the world may think. Blessings, my friend! ❤ https://storytellersquad.com/2021/09/28/to-the-average-good-and-faithful-servant/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. God sends us messages in a variety of ways and how cool it was to see how your friend, sharing her book and encouraging you to keep up the good work, provided just the right incentive for you. GOSH…well, that certainly was a long run-on sentence!! Anyway, I admire how you manage to juggle the art of mothering and the art of writing…along with building shelves!! in the same 24-hour period that we mortals have, too. God bless you, Kelsey, and keep on sharing your stories as we love to read them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, yes! Although I do not write novels or a blog, I know well the agony and the feeling of vulnerability, along with the conviction that I must share my thoughts. I am almost compelled to write, believing what I have to say needs to be said, but never knowing how it will be received. It may help someone, it may anger someone, it may cause me to lose relationships with others. I never know. May the grace of the Holy Spirit, the inspiration of all writers of Truth, be with you and lift you up as you work to convey your thoughts for the benefit of your readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Kelsey,
    If you only knew how much others truly care about your writing and your life! Thanks be to God for your timely messenger friend Gina who encouraged you, by His grace, to continue to bless others. Just now your writing put a smile on my heart as I was trying to be distracted from the devastating news that my precious cousin Glenda lost her husband Chris to covid today, and i am overwhelmed with sadness. Seeing this blog and thinking of how happy it makes me to see (and hear! ha ha! I had 4 small children at one time too) you and your husband and your adorable family at Mass. Seeing your family makes me want to know everything you are willing to share about your life, about how you do everything so joyfully. Please persevere, and continued prayers and smiles for your success and peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Theresa, I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. Thank you for your kind words, especially in the midst of such personal tragedy, and please know I will be praying for you and your family. Hope to see you at Mass soon. ❤️

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