You bury yourself in thousands upon thousands of words. You tinker endlessly until you sense you’ve got something ready to go out and change the world. Then you release it into the wild and your mother reads it, and the one or two voracious fan/friends repost it just like they do every time you write a blog post or witty status update—all of which is great. It makes you wonder if it would resonate with other people if they read it, too.
There are good days when a reader takes your ideas seriously and engages in a conversation or constructive criticism. There are bad days when you’re not even moved by what you wrote, but you feel like you’re supposed to keep trudging through the literary swamps because you’ve heard rumors of glory.
Then some days take you by surprise, when someone else recognizes your craft and tells other people about it. Someone who isn’t just a fan or an acquaintance, but someone who knows a few things about writing and living well.
The Literary Fever That Changed My Life
I fell in love with words at the end of high school. In college, the lovesickness expanded to a full-fledged fever.
In those days, my perspective expanded to make room for more nuance and grace when I read a book called Blue Like Jazz by a writer I came to appreciate for honest thoughts, understandable doubts, and resilient hopes.
I remember lying on the floor in my Oregon apartment, reading Through Painted Deserts and wondering what I would learn from experience if I road tripped across the country. The value of fathers and mentors turned into from an intellectual agreement to an emotional one when I picked up To Own A Dragon a while later.
When scorching summer came, I sat in the shade of the porch, meditating on Searching for God Knows What. An unsettling sense—a sense my life was meant for more than I was living—wouldn’t leave me alone after I read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. That one wrecked me.
So I took more risks. I asked a girl to marry me and asked people I deeply cared about to help me make the most of my work and relationships and dreams.
And I began to write.
The crazy thing about words is that they stay with you for years.
Words are teachers that keep giving you new lessons to take you to new places. (tweet this)
One of the things I love about the written word is its ability to inform, persuade, challenge, encourage, and motivate. Because of the way books and articles and ideas influenced me, I wanted to provide that influence for others.
So I wrote.
And when more risks crossed my path, I said yes. It was accepting a new job, moving across the country (literally, the whole thing), venturing into the wilderness, meeting strangers from the Internet in person, and learning more about growing healthy relationships through uncomfortable seasons.
The challenges pushed me forward. The people I cared about made me realize I wanted more for them and for myself, so I read Scary Close to deepen my understanding of intimacy, commitment, beyond surface level friendship, and the rich stories that come from marriage.
Cutting Through the Noise
Even when no one read, I kept writing. And even when I want to quit because it seems like the writing’s going nowhere and doesn’t move people to action in the way I hope, I commit to keep placing word after word, building a playground of ideas and a web of connections, praying against apathy to cut through the noise and land on the fertile soil of a curious spirit.
And to my surprise, occasionally, someone finds it and likes it well enough, even the words I thought were far from my best. And yet to my greater astonishment, people who know what good words sound like say that it’s worth a glance.
One of my favorite writers, Donald Miller, recommended an article I wrote.
[This is the article he recommended, if you’d like to read it: The Secret Enemy in Your Marriage.]
I’m blown away, and frankly, curious how it happened. But I’m also curious because, like any good story, you never quite know what’s going to happen next.
Who’s one writer who has influenced you?