3.25.2015

How I Write So Much

I write a lot. I mean, I am by no means truly prolific; I've written one book and won't have the next one drafted for another year or so. I have friends like this who turn out incredible numbers of well-written pieces. But, I do publish fairly frequently for a person who works a full time pastoral ministry job and parents two small children. A couple times lately people have commented on this, and I've felt all weird and panicky, like, I need to explain myself. Like I must be guilty of dereliction of duty in other areas of my life because I write "too much."

So, I'm explaining myself. Not because I really have to, but I do think it will make me feel better.

I write a lot in part because I've always written a lot. It's been a habitual part of my life for more than twenty years. When I was in grade school I wrote a novel. When I was in Introduction to Creative Writing at Kent State University during my freshman year of college, I wrote exactly twice as much as I was supposed to per the syllabus - in part because I was too afraid to ask if the twenty-five journal pages were supposed to be double-sided, and in part because I just had that much to say. Back in the heyday of this blog I published upwards of twenty posts per month. And for the first five years of my ministry I also wrote a sermon manuscript nearly every week. 

More and more frequently, I'll think of something I want to write and instead of writing it for my blog, where I have a very modest readership and no source of revenue, I'll tailor it for a publication that pays and has a broader audience. In that sense I'm not necessarily writing more than I used to, though I do think I'm writing better than I used to. 

And then there's this, and this is key: I borrow time to write from three different areas (more or less).

I take time from my personal life; I don't knit anymore, and don't watch nearly as many television shows and movies as I'd like, and don't have the tidiest house on the block, because I choose to spend time writing instead. As I gear up to work on bigger projects - currently a preaching commentary, soon enough a book - I know that this is the area that will require the most sacrifices. I am mindful about protecting time with my family.

I spend pretty much all of my ministry-beyond-the-walls-of-the-congregation time to write. I used to serve on denominational committees, and I don't anymore. I miss it. I am way less connected to both the UCC and the DoC locally than I was when I traveled to Altadena once a month to serve on the Pacific Southwest Committee on Ministry, but I can't do that kind of thing anymore if I'm serious about writing. I think, though, that writing is a legitimate way to serve the greater church.

And I borrow some time to write from my pastoral ministry. I'm often thinking through issues that are deeply relevant to my "day job", and able to reuse bits and pieces of writing for church things - and, critically, because my church is supportive of this. I was told when I was interviewing here that they'd written the job description to cover 2/3 of a full time position, so that whoever came to the position could bring their particular gifts and graces to fill out that last 1/3. Writing doesn't comprise an entire third of my vocation here, but it's certainly part of it, and for that I am very, very grateful. I try to "give back" by writing things that are highly specific and practical to my congregation - hymns, pageants, etc.

So, that's pretty much how I write so much. And why do I write so much? That's a much easier answer: because I need to.

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