Each year I send and receive hundreds, if not thousands, of emails. Most are quick and informational with little content. Some are personal and deeply meaningful. At the turning of the tech era, I still kept most of the meaningful ones as prized letters of yester-year. Now I toss (knowing they will either get stuck in outdated software, get lost in a crash, or be read out of context), but not before I clip out the amazing, timeless bits. Some of the most prized stories of family and children are found in emails.
I add these bits to my journals, memoirs, some fiction. It’s all an experiment. At this point, I write for a particular audience–that audience being God and me in messy journal format. Sometimes what I’ve written seems like it might be helpful to another. In that case, I share bits of correspondence or musing with that person. Rarely are these collections of words meant for a broader audience, then again, maybe they are and I just don’t know it yet. (Thus, this semi-private site where I post.)
Maybe because I enjoy connecting at any level, I’ve finally found freedom to use words in the moment: fluid, water to refresh the soul, a spark of inspiration, a tune that entertains, a phrase bringing new awareness of what is true, or to challenge what is not. And then I forget them.
My writing and speaking memory is like bacon on teflon: words sizzle, pop, then go sliding right off the edge of my brain.
My inability to hold words does not mean I value them less. Words are powerful. They carry the gospel. They can oppress, manipulate, coerce. I also speak carefully chosen words in earnest and am devastated when they have little effect.
To James, words have more form, are of a concrete nature. Dates, times, exact choice is very important. I appreciate his passion for thinking first before speaking, to steward and use words with great care. To worship and proclaim. To speak into existence.
One might imagine that communication between a teacher and a writer would go smoothly. We craft words for a living. Not so. In fact, the extreme opposite proves true.
For an external processor, and a lover of good story, poetry and humor–just for the sheer delight of it–my approach to speaking and written correspondence is often the polar opposite of husband James, and this proves distressing. As you can imagine, he questions motive, finds me sloppy, too loud, and sometimes rebellious. I can injure him with words.
I’ve chosen a career around crafting prose, collections and compilations. Why then won’t I finish and sell my own? Why after all the sacrifices he’s made for me to sit at a keyboard day after day do I shrug, grow apathetic and mute? He wonders. I feel guilty.
So a hobby then? No. Nope. No way. I can’t imagine the pouring out of heart and soul in any form is a mere past time. Communicating is sacred because those to whom I am speaking are sacred, writing in whatever form it takes receives the prime hours of my day. Sharing story–yours, mine–is the central passion of my life. And, still, miscommunication happens. The airwaves scramble. Our past, our current paradigms, our upsets get in the way.
So, I often write my best when speaking to a specific listener… as I am now. I imagine you across the table. Your presence brings a level of civility and peace. I feel like that you are somehow able to listen beyond the words I choose, but I may be totally off.