Revolution: Die to self

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Last night, I tried to preserve some words for my fiction. I did write a couple pages. Better than nothing. But it wasn’t satisfying. My heart was here.

Last night, I made the point that writing is for the readers and not the writer. I believe that. I believe it, and yet I struggle against it.

When I first started writing in high-school, it was to feed my enormous ego and deny the niggling thought that the reason I was going ignored by the world wasn’t because I was so much more intelligent and insightful than others, but for the opposite reason. I lived in fear that someone might find out the truth. And I simply couldn’t have that happen. So I lived to impress with my words and I became very fragile, lonely in my self-conscious tower of crystal glass, rejecting the very thing that could heal me, the truth, the thing I most feared.

The fact of the matter is, I’m a classic egotist. I believe in logic and precision and exactness according to a standard of true value—things perfectionists are really proud of. It may come as a laughable admission for those who see only imprecision and illogic at work in these words. That’s fair. It takes a long time to achieve perfection. And I don’t have the time. If you want the truth of it, none of us do.

Instead, here I choose to be fallible, prone to exaggeration, imperfection, oversimplification, and fuzziness. I do try to have a point, but I don’t take time to clarify and draw all the lines together and make sure my statements are homogenized for a commercial audience. Maybe I’m a fool for doing it. In fact, I know that I am a fool for it in many eyes.

And I used to care so much about how I looked to others. I was the oldest of three brothers, the first born pastor’s son in our little community where my parents planted a church, growing up under the watchful eyes of the well-meaning churchy folks who just loved to shine the light on this intensely shy, fearful kid who wanted nothing more than to be anonymous. I grew up knowing too well how important it was what others thought of me, of my parents, of our family.

The voices will often keep me from writing. They say, “You’d better be careful.” “Don’t let them see that.” “What will they think?” I struggle to ignore them, but they’ll never go away. I’m making slow progress. I’m fine with that.

One of my major purposes in this blog–and I should have said this before–is to be completely free and unchecked. It’s so rare I get to do this in my life. I’m not saying I’m trying to be inexact, off-the-cuff, imperfect. But it’s going to happen. And once you realize I’m working from this foundation, I’m hoping you’ll cut me a little slack. It’s a blog for Pete’s sake.

But that overly concerned, frightened egotist me is the me that’s died. I am no more that person. People can think what they want about me. People can think what they want about me. The more I say it, the more I believe it.

Tonight, my fervent hope is to say my piece on perfectionism and self-consciousness to serve my readers. Because Tony Campolo is right: We live in a world that’s dying and no one gives a shit. The ship is going down and we’re all swimming around in our life preservers, waving at them on their way down. “Here, listen to this story.” They need another pointless story like a lead weight around their necks. When you write, write to save, write to change. Write your stories with the winsome, peaceful manner of Christ, and die to self.

Perfectionism and self-consciousness are the thorns in many a writer’s side but without the struggle against them, you’d never fight so hard to write.

When you write, write for God.

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5 thoughts on “Revolution: Die to self”

  1. Perfectionism and self-consciousness truly are bound up with each other, as you say, Mick. And in this post-modern, post-traditional, post-conservative, post-evangelical, and (as I heard a young pastor say recently) post-everything day in which we write, it’s sometimes tricky to find a platform from which readers will truly be reached.
    All I know to do, while dying to the old self, is to be true to the new self, the new creation God has made me to be. It’s always a challenge, but if I’m not “perfect” at it, He will use even that to reach readers. I, too, have embraced fallibility.
    Betsey Newenhuyse, an editor at Moody, recently told me that readers aren’t looking for answers as much as they’re looking for connection. That helped me a lot!
    Be encouraged that you are connecting with your readers, Mick. You say about your blog, “Here, I choose to be fallible.” I must object to your choice, at least in part…Fallible’s already taken! That’s the name of my blog!

  2. Feel better, relevantgirl. The world is waiting for the Word you possess.
    Katy, I love your blog! I’d never dream of infringing on your fallibility with my own.

  3. :) At the time my hubby was helping me search for domain names 4 years ago, “fallible” was on a very short list of one-word domains still available. We noticed the list in Wired and raced to register it. Who wouldn’t want a great name like fallible? Besides, “Infallible” was taken…..A little sick I-grew-up-Catholic humor…Have a great weekend!

  4. Mick,
    You said:
    The ship is going down and we’re all swimming around in our life preservers, waving at them on their way down. “Here, listen to this story.” They need another pointless story like a lead weight around their necks. When you write, write to save, write to change. Write your stories with the winsome, peaceful manner of Christ, and die to self.
    What a great challenge, so graphically illustrated. Thank you so much for being a voice calling Christian writers to a greater purpose. I fear the reactionary tide to preachy fiction is sweeping the other way–and will beach us on an island of irrelevancy. We need to hear your challenge!

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