Yesterday morning, I drove into nearby Pittsburgh in an attempt to attend a talk that I thought would inspire and influence me. It was called “Writing as Vocation.” All week (more or less) I asked people if they wanted to go with me and even succeeded in finding someone willing to drive into the city with me. Unfortunately, that fell through about twenty-four hours before hand, as she found out about a meeting she was required to attend. I decided that I would go to the talk anyways, even if that meant driving by myself.
Despite the fact that I am typically okay with driving in traffic, I got flustered in the light traffic that I encountered coming through the tunnel on Saturday morning. The short version of this story is that I ended up driving around downtown Pitt in search of St. Paul’s Cathedral, certain that I would find it. But my twenty-minute cushion time quickly dwindled as I realized that I was nowhere near the cathedral.
In a last effort to get to the talk on time, I got back onto the highway that I had come from. The highway only took me back to the tunnel and so I drove out of the city, fifteen minutes after the start time of the lecture, frustrated with my spoiled plans.
“Lord, bring good out of this.”
The two phrases alternated in my head for the next five minutes. Then I made up my mind to enjoy myself and drove to a little French café that I discovered over the summer, deciding that well, if I couldn’t attend a lecture about the vocation of writing, I could at least write.
Maybe that is what I really needed that morning—a sort of retreat from familiar faces and places, a time to recollect myself and to think about how writing is a vocation and what that means for my life.
Maybe there are times in our lives when we don’t need conversation. Times to pause and think. Times to enjoy a smooth cup of black coffee. Times to fill the cream colored spaces between notebook lines with dark loops and swirls.
Writing is something I can throw myself into—with my heart, my mind, my short experience, and my faulty wisdom—and become better for it.
Writing requires endless learning. Not simply learning in the sense of research, but in a deepening disposition of wonder towards the world.
In the development of a critical eye for culture and for my own writing.
In the discovery of my own relationship with the Infinite.
In an understanding of how particular circumstances relate to the universal situation of man.
In a tuning of my rhythmic ear.
In a ripening sense of humor.
In a sharpening of my notice of small intimate details.
In a deepening ability to relate to all types of people simply because they are people and I am a person. In a discipline and passion for the gritty revision of my own words.
In a vocabulary that expands to become more precise.
At this moment, looking at all these ways that writing will continue to demand the best of me and to sharpen what exists of me now, I have great hope! It is a work that will not be futile, a calling that will stretch me beyond the narrow limits that I set for myself.
Writing about writing—what a stereotype! But it’s necessary sometimes to step back from what we are doing and to think about why we do those things.
So why do I write? I write because it’s how I discover the world. It’s how I discover myself. And it’s how I discover God.
If the glory of God is man fully alive, I pray that the Holy Spirit comes to animate me, to inebriate my writing, so that my person and my words may be a spring of water welling up to eternal life; so that through my work, I may be refined into the sanctity that the Lord requires of me.