This is Part 3 of my Journey into blogging. If you haven’t read the previous posts, I would encourage you to get caught up here with Part 1 – What’s In Your Hands, and here with Part 2 – Believers, Building and Beginnings.
After about six months into blogging, I was starting to timidly take flight. Gaining confidence in my projects and presentation while acquiring new friendships in the blogosphere, I thought things would continue to gradually increase.
What I forgot in my blissful start was that greater always comes from process, and process isn’t usually pretty. In fact, process often looks like what we thought was beautiful writing torn up and marked in red; process can look a lot like editing.
Learning How to Edit
If it weren’t for an experience I had in college working for an English professor, I might have downplayed the importance of editing in the writing process. Working for the professor, I had the job of doing the preliminary grammatical grading for his freshman class. I am grateful I was hired, though I still don’t know how I got the job. He asked in the interview if I knew the rules of sentence structure and the rules for commas. (A pause in speech was not the correct answer.) But in that place of marking up spelling errors and crossing out or inserting commas, I was introduced to the editing process; I found commas and grammar were only the tip of the iceberg when it came to editing and that sentence structure, content, voice and flow were the powerful force behind writing. I learned no writing is brilliant upon arrival. Editing was a lot of discarding unneeded paragraphs and sentences while reconstructing tightly wrapped content with saturated words.
I observed writing was much like analyzing great literature. Extracting the truth and themes of life and then connecting and weaving sense into the ordinary, with the hope of creating art that makes sense out of life. I found writing was only recomposing truth so that life might be more digestible. I discovered the writing process is pouring our hearts out through the keys onto the screen and then closing the screen, sometimes for days, weeks or months. Then reopening it. Sifting through the flow and content, hanging onto good sentences and making them better. Editing is realizing what’s there isn’t the best that it can be. Editing is pausing. Editing is tweaking. Editing is deleting whole paragraphs, and sometimes starting completely over. “One masterpiece is the work of ten thousand rough drafts,” Emily Freeman composed in A Million Little Ways. Editing takes TIME (and I’m not even getting talking about a publishing process, this is just my own personal blog posts).
When Life Invades the Process
And so after six months of a glorious blog honeymoon, life invaded the process. All the things God had said to me hung deflated as I knelt everyday by the toilet, my head spinning, the contents of my stomach reeling over the fifth child embedded into my being. Suddenly, all the excitement I held the last year about the new blog adventure was overshadowed by all-day sickness and the reality of an unplanned fifth child. What I didn’t know was that the start of my pregnancy was the beginning of a two year editing process in my life.
The key to editing is time, and time allows no short cuts.
The life process first looked like pregnancy sickness, followed by a move, followed by the birth of our daughter and initial recovery, followed by substantial health problems intertwined with the worst bout of anxiety I had ever faced. There were so many days I felt like I didn’t have the time let alone anything to give creatively or spiritually. I was exhausted, living with widespread, undiagnosed pain while emotionally defeated; even maintaining a blog looked more like a dream slowly evaporating. I was determined, even in the midst of pain to be faithful with what was in my hands, although there were days I did question if I should go on with blogging.
However, no storm lasts forever. At some point the editing process ends and the story unfolds. The life edit for now was lifting the pen of pruning, revealing a story with a stronger voice, refined character, interwoven themes, and grammar corrected. A story of brokenness made beautiful was continuing to be revealed.
The editing process is not usually what we envision when we begin any dream. It’s ugly. It’s uncomfortable. It’s demanding. It’s refining. It’s hard work. It’s never what we thought it would look like. Joseph thought his dream would be glory, but first found himself in prison. Abraham imagined his promised land filled with children, and yet he walked his son up the mountain to sacrifice. David knew he would be king, and yet had to flee for his life from another king for seven years! Jesus told Martha her brother’s sickness would not end in death, and yet, he was dead, for four long days.
We hear the words” its time,” and recognize our gifting, and then have this glorious picture of what it will look like. We think taking flight looks like flying, but how often do we forget the importance of the maintenance being done on the tarmac between every flight? How often do we remember that no writing is good upon arrival? The only good writing is edited and edited and edited.
In the process, am I willing to believe that He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it?
It’s easy to think we missed it or even maybe God missed it for us when life isn’t beautiful. But what we don’t realize is the turmoil of editing is really just the process of making us more beautiful.
To be continued…
Thanks for coming along the journey with me,