Wednesday, May 02, 2012

When to Write...

As a matter of principle,  I seem to be late a lot. And I am very late in joining Lyla over at TweetSpeak Poetry for their book club reading of L.L. Barkat's wonderful small volume on the craft of writing and the life of the writer. It's called "Rumors of Water,"and I cannot encourage you strongly enough to read this one through. Mark it up, read it again, live with it a while - if you ever have occasion to write anything at all, ever, her words are wise and truly helpful. This is the last week and it's on the last two sections of the book: "Glitches" and "Time."

I am wrestling today with this whole idea of time.
When is it time to tell certain stories?
When is it too early?
Or too late?

How do we know when the time is now?

I've had this blog for a number of years.
It was initially an assignment,
a strong request from my boss,
who had a blog himself and 
he wanted others on the church staff to have one, too.

I've loved to write ever since I can remember.
I've had teachers encourage me to do more of it.
I've even had a 'call' to do it,
an almost audible voice asking me to
'write my life down,' primarily for my then newly-born elder granddaughter.

She is six years old now.
And I still haven't done it.
I've made a stab at it here and there.
I've written some of the stories.

But about five years ago, I came up against this extremely painful reality: 
parts of my story may be mine, 
 but they impinge on the lives 
and feelings 
and experiences of others. 

So maybe they're not my stories to write after all?

Let me explain a bit more about what I mean.

In the right hand column is a list of the archives of this blog. You'll note that I wrote about 20 times the first year - 2006. And about 10 times the next year.
And not at all in 2008.
Not one post.
From summer 2007 until sometime in 2009,
I stayed away from here, 
badly burned by a most difficult experience:

I wrote a story before its time.

It was a difficult post to write because I had just spent a pretty rough week watching someone I loved suffer terribly. 
I wrote, without names, about that experience.
About how watching others suffer,
wondering, "How long, O Lord, how long?" - about how
that is a particular kind of pain straight from the bowels of hell itself.

My boss was thrilled with the post.
He thought it was powerful,
true and necessary.

However, someone else who was close to the situation 
was deeply wounded by what I wrote.

And you know what?
That wounding far outweighed my boss's appreciation.
FAR outweighed it, if there are some kind of 
cosmic books being kept of such things.

That post was 'live' for a total of about 12 hours, 
and then it was sent into cyber limbo, 
never to be seen again.
But the repercussions from it reverberate 
right into the present day.

So I am left wondering.
When can this part of my story be told?
Maybe so.

And that's a hard reality to look at.
I am hoping Ms. Barkat is right.
"There is no hurry. 
The things we cannot write about today, 
we will surely find we can write about tomorrow."

Perhaps time will tell. 

A patient reader of this blog will also notice 
that from 2008-2010, 
almost all posts were strictly work-related - 
prayers and sermons I had written for corporate worship. 
It was not until I retired at the end of 2010 
that I began doing 
regular, reflective writing once again. 
And I do it very, very gingerly still. 
The last thing I want my writing to do 
is to further complicate or make painful the lives of others - so I'm learning 
(very slowly) to dive beneath the surface, 
to put some of my observations about life 
and death 
and family 
and faith 
out here in print. 
I'm not sure I know the answer to the questions 
I've raised, 
but I'm trying to do what L.L. suggests: 
"Trust the process and move on."