Sabrina Reyes-Peters

The Writing Life

I've had all these ideas floating around in my head, and not enough energy to spin them out. In other words, I've at least half a dozen unfinished blog posts swimming around in there. But I've noticed recently, and quite painfully, that my writing muscles have gotten flabby, so I need to crank something out whether I think it's perfect, or not. Journaling helps, but there's no pressure to make something even slightly coherent in my journal.

I've been thinking about why I write and what my purpose is in posting things to one tiny corner of the interweb. Of course, I write to live. Simple as that, yes? I would not feel whole without writing. But why post here? Why share anything?

I have this high and lofty idea that I can shepherd people to enlightenment, quietly, without stirring up too much trouble. I write for hope, love, healing, and justice. I write for laughs and for critical thoughts. Sometimes I feel such an urgency to reveal a wrong and correct it, you'd think I was trying to play the Holy Spirit, for such an urgency correlates with a feeling of responsibility. (In all excruciating honesty, I have tried to play the Holy Spirit.)

Here's the thing.

I am not the Holy Spirit. There's only one of those.

I don't have to be certain that my words are weighty and convicting. I don't have to worry about bringing enlightenment. I don't have to worry about causing trouble. I don't need to feel rushed. I don't have to be perfect. I just have to put my words out there.

And then there's this constant, unhealthy habit of comparison. I want to compete, but I hold back, letting my little jealousies harbor and breed. Wanting someone else's life never does anyone real good. Sure, jealousies may reveal desires to be pursued and capabilities to nourish, but trying to actually be someone else does no good at all. It's a denial of uniqueness. It denies creativity.

I want to feel what I want and want what I feel and think what I think and chase after all those things, for myself. I know I am capable of things. Maybe I fear I am too capable, so I try to numb those feelings of capability and chase after things that other people have. I don't think I'm the only one.

It isn't simply about letting go of those varieties of fears, or even conquering them. It's not about caving into comparison or pretending to be the Holy Spirit, either. It's about generating beauty in defiance of fear. It's about telling stories. It's about joining the human chorus of stories, regardless of how they are told. I just so happen to use a keyboard, most of the time.

I write to live.

For me, then, I write to be human.