We made it to our first 1,000 hits this week, which is amazing to me! In view of this I thought I’d share a little about my background, and why writing this blog as been part of a process of healing for me.
I never thought that writing a blog about my thoughts and experiences would interest other people, which is why I’ve never done it before. But after about 6 weeks of writing I’ve reached over a thousand hits in 32 different countries. I’m not saying this to show off, but because I’m dumbfounded by it. For years I’ve had all these ideas rolling around in my head, and I fantasised about writing a book one day. Not that I thought anyone would want to read it.
This process started because I’ve been writing various letters, updates and leaflets about an upcoming outreach project I’m starting. The process of signing up for training and raising financial support has involved a lot of writing! One of the main pieces of feedback I received from people was,
“You should write more!”
So I have been. It started with a little post on Facebook which then became the first post on this blog, and I was really surprised at the response.
I guess for me I’ve always struggled with wanting to be heard. I come from a family of extroverts, so getting a word in edge ways wasn’t always easy (although I’ve more than made up for that now!). I hated school because my mind and what I created often didn’t fit into the boxes of standardised education, which left me incredibly frustrated. The other big problem was my handwriting. As a child I had severe eczema on my hands, which has left my knuckles permanently whitened by scar-tissue. This meant that learning to write was a struggle. My torn up hands struggled to hold a pencil properly so the school suggested a special pencil holder. Unfortunately they gave me a left-handed one by mistake. This really didn’t help!
The other problem for me with handwriting has always been that my brain moves faster than my hand can write. I’m fairly sure I’m somewhere on the ADHD spectrum, so my mind is like a constantly spinning kaleidoscope of thoughts. This leads to terrible handwriting, smudged ink and sometimes missed words as my hand is a few sentences behind my head. When I was a kid teachers weren’t taught to recognise such things so I was often labelled lazy or incompetent by them. One in particular took great delight in getting me up in front of the class, showing them my inky scrawl and then throwing it across the room while announcing how useless I was. My 12 year old self spent the rest of the lesson in the corner of the classroom quietly deciding that writing wasn’t so much fun. Computers changed a lot of this and I learned to touch-type before most of the kids in my class even had one. Unfortunatley though classroom laptops were not available in those days.
Recently I’ve been slowly working my way through Robert M Pirsig’s seminal work, “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance”. Such a fantastic read. In one section the protagonist reflects on teaching English literature to the class. He realises the utter hypocrisy in teaching children to analyse the writing of famous authors and try to glean and mimic their style. Learn the ‘rules’ of good writing. He taught this in full knowledge that most of these authors didn’t subscribe to any ‘rules’, they just wrote. The confines of this narrow way of thinking in education were a real cage for me, and were one of the reasons that the day I left school was the happiest day of my life at the time.
“Schools teach you to imitate. If you don’t imitate what the teacher wants you get a bad grade. Here, in college, it was more sophisticated, of course; you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of the instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you A’s. Originality on the other hand could get you anything – from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it.” Robert M Pirsig ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’
I’ve come around to viewing writing as a form of pure artistic expression. I’ve always been so jealous of illustrators and painters, my poor pencil skills leave anything I draw looking like the work of a five year old. I’ve played a fair bit of music over the years, but the shackles of rhyme and timing always limited my expression. Since writing regularly I’ve felt such a deep sense of catharsis, all the creative energy whirling inside me has begun to be set free. The chaotic kaleidoscope of my thoughts has started turning a little slower and more regularly now, and above all I’m experiencing some peace.
But writing isn’t an entirely selfish experience for me. Life hasn’t always been so easy, and there have been a few bumps along the way. My sincere prayer is that giving voice to what’s inside, sharing stories and experiences, I might give that one extra ounce of strength to someone who I struggling, that I might give a voice to the voiceless that their stories might be heard, and that some of what I’ve seen might encourage others into action.
So this is why I write. To bring some order to the chaos in my head, to share stories which need telling and to comfort the mourning. Ultimately, I write all these musings as expression of worship to God. The most fragrant offering we can give Him is our lives and ourselves, and I write these musings as urban hymns retelling the journey I’ve walked with Him. Am I a little self-obsessed and narcissistic? Almost certainly. But I’m trying to change. And this is helping.