Chapter(5)

 

Wow! We’ve made it to Chapter 8 in our discussion of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by co-authors Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig.

For a recap of previous chapters, click here.

Today we’re asking this question:

 

Check out these helpful thoughts from Ann and Charity in the video below:

 

 

One thing I appreciate about the conversation in this video is when Charity points out that “not all writing leads to self-discovery.”

To me, this was freeing — it lifted the potential for me to feel like I’m not doing it right if I’m not discovering something new about myself every time my fingertips touch the keyboard.

It also made me appreciate even more those few and far between, sacred moments when the veil is lifted and we do see ourselves more clearly than before. Those moments when we slip off our shoes, because we suddenly realize we’re treading on holy ground.

One instance comes to mind. I sat alone this past May, my laptop tucked into a three-sided, cubicle-like desk at my local library. My kids were at school, and I had limited hours and hefty word counts to meet.

I set my mind to chronicling the account of my first child’s birth, to fill in a portion of a memoir I’m working on.

I intended to just tap out the details of the labor and delivery. What I didn’t expect was that through my writing that day, the Lord would connect dots in my identity that had been hanging loose for years.

 

Here’s an excerpt from that chapter:

Becoming a mom in South Africa wrapped my identity tight around this far and foreign land. I became more than just a visiting volunteer missionary. I did more than marry a local. I spread my roots and brought forth life in the shade of this place.

Giving birth on African soil gave me a sense of confidence — a sense of place. American friends who had never been to Cape Town doubted the quality of the healthcare I would receive, questioning the hygiene levels in the facilities. But the Lord caused the boundary lines to fall in pleasant places for us, and through Him, we were victorious, my daughter and me. Though my sweet girl was half American, she was just as much African. She belonged — and through her, I felt that I did, too.  

I thought about Mary in the Bible, how she housed the Son of God in the fiber of her being. How the Father split her body open to let the glory out. For nine months, she was His dwelling place. And I wondered if she found her home in Him.

As I grew into motherhood, home grew into me. I discovered the miracle of gripe water, and learned to call diapers “nappies.” We shopped for a pram instead of a stroller, and debated the pros and cons of introducing a dummy, which I’d only ever known as a pacifier. Instead of liquid Tylenol, the options for children included Panado and Calpol. As my daughter developed and learned new things every day, so did I.

The early months of my pregnancy were marked by the unexpected loss of my husband’s uncle. Death left its stamp on our hearts and changed us. But that was not the end. My pregnancy culminated in a miraculous new life. An abundance of gifts — and I saw the gospel in living color. I saw the effects of sin in this fallen, broken world. The pain that comes with death and loss. And I saw the promise of new life in Christ — the One who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. I cradled my newborn, and my fingertips touched the fragility of life — the realization that this home is only temporary. It’s not the end — there is more to come.

***

That afternoon, the process of writing led to self-discovery.

It doesn’t happen to me every day. Not even every month. But thanks be to God when it does happen — when He uses the gift of writing to help us better understand who we are in Him.

 

 

What about you? What’s your story?

 

Here are some link-up suggestions for today’s topic:

 

Write your own blog post or journal entry on one or more of the following topics:

Write an essay or blog post on the subtitle of this chapter: “When I write, I find myself.” What does that mean to you? 

What have you learned about yourself as a result of writing? 

Imagine someone you love is dying. What would you want them to know? Write it down.  

If you could describe yourself through your writing, how would you do so? 

 

Next Monday and Wednesday we’ll be discussing the chapters entitled, Engage and Plan. Click here for some discussion suggestions around these themes.

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15 thoughts on “on being a writer :: discover {chapter 8}

  1. Kate- what a beautiful reflection on the birth of your child. I read it twice, noticing different things each time. So, so good. It’s evident that your words were coming from a deep, newly pioneered place. They are fresh and have a rich energy about them.

    I love the Dani Shapiro quote at the front of this chapter: “… The page is your mirror, …” This is a huge reason why I write now and why I fell in love with writing as a young girl. My mind and I race through life, but every once in a while, I’ll notice something that forces me to slow down and realize there is something more there. Writing gives that “more” a voice.

    Writing help me discover who I am, what I think, feel, and want. Often, I don’t know any of that until I reach down, start pulling out words, and work to fit them together.

    However, this is also why I struggle with thinking that publishing/promoting such work seems narcissistic. I’m thinking about #4 in the discussion question at the end of the chapter. I understand the value of writing for my own growth and discovery, but often struggle with why others would value from it. My finger hovers over the publish button and often never presses. I’m pretty convinced that’s a good thing.

    Again, it all comes down to posture of the heart, I suppose.

    A great chapter and food for thought. Thank you, Kate!

    • Karen,
      i am convinced that some motives need constant assessing. I’m learning to be be all right with the hesitation over pressing publish. I want to feel the tension to know for sure.

    • If we don’t offer the lessons we’ve learned through our writing, no one else can take advantage of them or identify with a fellow human being, knowing they’re not alone in their views, mistakes, lives.

  2. Like Karen, I tend to rush through so much of my day that writing brings things to a manageable pace and allows me to digest life. I participated in the Brene Brown group nearly two years ago with her book The Gift of Imperfection. She used art journaling in that course and that added a new layer to discovery that the written word doesn’t always reveal for me. Maybe that’s why I like to include photo’s in my writing.

    I’m thoroughly enjoying this conversation as it brings out much more of the book to me. Sharing our perspectives enriches our own.

    • Debby, I did Brené’s class, too. She really opened me up to finding expression for my creative desires. When she said, “unused creativity is not benign” I listened carefully.

  3. kate, i loved your description of the birth of your daughter! what a graphic description! i could both picture it and almost feel it! i also remember feeling more a part of jamaica like you mentioned after the birth of our second daughter who was born there. somehow, i felt more a part of that country by having her there. i would never have thought to express it the way you did. it was beautiful!

  4. Coming rather late to the discussion this time. Very much appreciated this prompt as it was the one that led me to dig a bit deeper in to discovering my motivations/desires etc in relation to writing. Thanks, Kate: it’s been a really really great series. [Loved your writing in this post, too].

  5. […] Today is the 9th in the series at Kate Motaung’s blog titled On Being a Writer by Anne Koeker and Charity Singleton Craig. The book is also available at the website. This is week five. She has links to all this information and earlier posts on her site. Here are the links to my earlier posts: Identify, Arrange, Surround, Notice, Write. Send, Promote, Discover. […]

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