Sunday, September 15, 2013

To My Daughter - As She Writes

Dear Faith,

Weekly writing assignments.

I know this is new territory for you. I know at this point organized writing, pre-selected topics, and the length of three paragraphs feels like an eternity compared to free writing in a journal where you could doodle pictures and write about whatever you wanted.

But oh, baby girl, this door that is swinging wide for you – I am so excited about this for you. I think you heard a little of this excitement in my voice this morning as we finished the throw down about homework (it will be done before anything else happens), or at least you heard the fierce passion in my voice about writing. I know it feels like so much in this moment. But oh, baby girl …

You come from a legacy of words. You come from a wealth of letters. Yours is a birthright of narrative and storytelling. Language and phrase and the ability to describe a jaw-dropping sunset or the aching longing for what you want most were woven into the molecules of your DNA as surely as were your green eyes, honey-brown hair, and boundless smile.

You see your Mama writing all the time – not just here on the screen – but in my notebooks that fill my bags and every corner of my desk, on scraps of paper, on the backs of checks, on paper tablecloths in restaurants. This is what happens when your very existence is crafted on words and expression. Life bleeds out of your fingertips and you learn to never halt the flow of phrase when the muse hits.

But here’s the trick my little girl: like any gift or talent, it begins and is cultivated with practice. Always writing. Always capturing the moment. Always being willing to take the time to write it down. Even when there is no muse. Even when there are no words. This is the gift that comes with doing it over and over and over again and schooling yourself in the drawing out – on discovering the magic that happens when you come once again to the sacred space of putting pen to paper and letting go.

And it is magic. I can no more explain the mystery of how I write (how we write) than I can explain how I cook or how I design or how the music happens when I get near a keyboard. Yes, I can explain the technicalities of these things. I can tell you the proper way they should be done and the order of the business. But I can’t explain the magic. That discovery will be yours alone as you begin to write your own words down. As you begin your journey of letters and ink.

You will follow me, as I followed Nana and Papa, as they followed their writers before them. You will find your inspirations until your shelves are covered with the ones you can’t live without; the ones you turn to – the way I turn to Madeleine L’Engle and Ann Voskamp. You will find the music that drives you when you write. And you will find your space where the mystery becomes complete and you give birth to your art.

There will be times when you feel as dry as parched earth; when there are no ideas; when there is no inspiration. These are the times when you go back to the backbone of the craft – where you go back to the beginning. This is why these early exercises are so important. This is where you will learn to keep on pushing ahead and writing it down – even when it seems like you’re not saying anything at all. Because as you push through those dry spaces; as you write though your deserts; as you wrestle with words that will not come, you will suddenly find yourself in the midst of a breakthrough or an oasis and then you’ll barely be able to stop.

Do not be afraid. Be bold in your words. Be brave. Let them spill out over page and table and onto the floor beneath you. Write into the teeth of what frightens you most and never look back. Be fierce as you discover your voice – know that it will be an evolving thing – and be willing to move and change with it. It is as organic as you are, and if you honor your voice and practice your art, you will never be afraid of what you write.

I’ve seen glimpses of the writer in you already. I’ve been a bit awed to think that some of these ideas can come from someone so small. And yet I can’t be all that surprised, given where we come from. Keep going sweet girl. Writing is in your veins, and it will be one of the most rewarding things you ever do.

I pray that as you do, you remember where your gifts come from – that you will turn your eyes inward and heavenward and use those gifts for His glory as you craft out your creations. Everything comes from His hands.

Any excuse to put up a link to the amazing Sara Bareilles - especially this song.
Love it - and it says so much of what I want to say here. 


  1. I love this, my friend! So much truth here - as we gladly pass down the torch to create beauty and grace with words unfolding... the gift, the call - to write all the things down - when they are pretty - and when they are not... such a release and a growing into! Practice... Always! Write... Always! (and Sara? Well - yeah!)

    1. Always interesting to be able to turn a tense parenting moment into a blog post. She read it this morning. I think it got through a little, but its one of things that probably won't make an impact for a decade or so. But I'll keep at it all the same! She did like the video for sure :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Barbie - if nothing else, it's a good reminder to me about why I write!


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