“So, how’s your writing going these days?” a friend asked me recently.
I had to chuckle. As a published author and Internet magazine founder, people are always curious as to what you’re working on. After my book Bulletproof Faith came out in 2008, people asked all the time if a follow up was on the way.
Indeed, I did have some ideas for a sequel to Bulletproof. Hell, I had ideas for a whole franchise to make it my life’s work and income source! But, the publisher wouldn’t bite, so the outline languishes in the backwoods of my computer’s filing system at the moment.
Being a writer is hard work, I’m discovering, especially when one is not working on a specific project at the moment. Do I have ideas for projects? Sure. But, nothing has really lit a fire under me, not the way Bulletproof Faith did all those years ago. That was a book I was destined to write.
“How long did it take you to write the book?” countless people asked me at book signings and other events.
“Ten years,” was my standard answer.
Oh, the actual writing of the book took about 9 months, but the creation of the book really did take about a decade. The seed was planted in an article I wrote in 1998 for my now-closed online magazine, Whosoever, which was a publication for LGBT Christians (the archives remain online for those who wish to read them). I really had to live into the precepts laid out in that original article for the next ten years before I could condense all that I had learned into a paperback book for mass consumption.
This is what makes being a writer so hard — for me, anyway. I can’t seem to crank out pages and pages of audience-ready books and articles on a daily or even annual basis. Some people can, and do. It doesn’t make them better, or even worse, writers than me. It simply makes them more commercially productive. I wish I could be, but it seems my gestation time for public pieces takes a bit longer.
The good thing about the magazine (as well as this blog) is that it’s a vehicle for me to keep writing, to keep trying out ideas and putting them out to the public for feedback. This is a major piece of the writing process – being able to run stuff up the flagpole and see what people tend to salute and enjoy.
Over the past year or so, however, the impetus for my writing has changed. With Whosoever, it was driven primarily by producing material for the spiritual and moral uplift of the LGBT Christian community. I became quite proficient in refuting the anti-gay arguments of religious and social leaders, using logic, reason, biblically-supported evidence and cutting sarcasm to tear apart each of their spurious arguments against our community.
Now? I don’t get fired up at the prospect of tearing apart such arguments. In fact, such arguments that LGBT people are somehow more sinful or morally deficient than their heterosexual counterparts are so blatantly ridiculous on their face, I can’t fathom how anyone can believe them anyway. Their arguments, in the end, are self-condemnatory.
Instead, I resonate with the words Bishop Yvette Flunder said after facing opposition to her recent sermon at a small Tennessee Bible college.
“I’m not using my energy for useless fights,” she said. “I’m using my energy to find peace. Let there be peace on earth.”
I’m tired of fighting anti-gay bigots who have nothing better to do than spread their hatred and vitriol. Instead of wasting my energy on arguments that condemn themselves, I’m using my energy to find peace and create more peace. This is what is driving my writing these days — but it seems that people are more attracted to snarky take-downs of critics than they are pieces that seek to increase the peace among warring tribes.
The conundrum becomes then, how to create articles, books and other pieces that motivate people to create more light in the world. This is the center of my current explorations here on this blog. It’s been a slow start, but ideas are beginning to spark, new creations are taking shape and I am now writing more to uncover my own new journey than I am to criticize anyone else’s.
This really is the writer’s job — to write about what they don’t know about themselves to eventually uncover the universal truths that resonates with everyone and invites a deep and meaningful participation.
That, I think, is the measure of all worthwhile writing endeavors.
It may take another ten years to produce something commercially viable, but my writing, not in spite of, but because of its seemingly aimless meandering, is going very well, indeed.