I had a teacher in graduate school who began each class with a prayer. This wasn’t an unusual occurrence as I was a graduate student at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, and many of my professors did the same.
This particular professor prayed in a particular manner, asking God to bless the class, both the students’ learning and his instruction. Again, this part of the ritual wasn’t unusual or unexpected. What has stayed with me are the words he used to end his prayer. The same words, verbatim, every time––“Lord, forgive the one who teaches, for his sins are many.”
His words resonated deeply with me and have risen often to mind in situations that have been both obviously similar and seemingly unrelated. This blog and the thoughts, ideas, and opinions expressed in it may constitute one of the latter; still, I find myself reciting that prayer, speaking it over my written words like a mantra.
Writing represents a mixed bag of emotions and experience for me. Over the years, I’ve experienced moments of soaring confidence as well as those of crushing self-doubt. I’ve wandered through periods of passionate intention and wallowed in those of unabashed neglect and stagnation.
I started this blog, Urban Mulberry, in July of 2017. At that time in life, I was full of passion and determination to become a freelance writer, and I wrote several articles, in particular related to eduction, to fill out a sort of writer’s portfolio. I wanted people out there to know that I can write. To know that I know things about education and counseling and all sorts of other interesting topics.
Then, life happened. I got distracted. I got busy. I lost my interest in and motivation for writing. Essentially, I crushed my passion and determination for writing with other passions and interests, and once I gave up the daily practice of writing, an insidious voice took up residence in its place. What do I really have to say to anyone? Who am I to put my thoughts and ideas and opinions out there to the world?
These confessions, I realize, afford me points for neither originality nor candor. Most writers know that the dizziest heights of confidence may be followed with crazy–making speed by the depths of doubt and self–criticism. Many writers love writing, yet many also experience extended periods of stagnation. Descent into the maelstrom might begin with anything––a thought, an off–hand comment, a competing dream… Anything.
One personal nemesis: the recurring thought that too many people are doing what I want to do. Everyone and his brother (sister, hair–dresser, minister, local restauranteur, etc) it seems is writing a blog these days. The voice repeats: Why would anyone read mine? What if I have nothing to offer that’s original or valuable? Worse, what if someone reads my blog and thinks I’m stupid, uninformed, arrogant, or just plain wrong?
Again, I know, no points for originality here. I’m writing my way through the maelstrom to find the clarity that will allow me to say what I really want to say about writing. Specifically, about my writing. The writing I post here that someone, someday, may actually read.
Once upon I time, I taught my creative writing students that a writer is someone who writes. Not only someone who writes brilliantly or flawlessly. A writer is simply someone who writes. Who plays with words. Who loves words and the clarity of thinking and judgement that playing with words inevitably brings.
Once upon a time, I taught my literature students that we write to understand what we think, how we perceive, what if anything we can conclude about literature. I preached to them that writing is a type of learning, of discovering. That we can’t wait to write about a piece of literature until we know all there is to know about it. If we did, after all, we’d be waiting a very long time.
Now, I must teach myself everyday that I am a writer when I choose to write. When I take the time to play with words. When I use the written word to understand more perfectly what I think and believe about life and the world around me, about the people who inhabit my world, and about the woman I have been, am, and am becoming.
I want to learn, to explore, to exchange ideas, to challenge those around me and to be challenged by them. Not in an ugly, antagonistic manner but in the manner that all true and elevated discourse challenges those who engage in it to hone and sharpen their minds and their understanding.
I do not write because I am expert in anything. I write because I wish to be a student of many things. So, I write in spite of the fact that someone, someday, will probably read the words posted here and conclude that I am stupid, uninformed, arrogant, and just plain wrong.
I suppose that my point in these many words is to declare myself, to myself, as a writer. I have a passion and aptitude for words; I do not have absolute wisdom concerning all the words I write or any given topic or idea I choose to write about. So…
To the future reader(s) who may encounter my words as I send them out there, I say simply, forgive the one who writes, for her sins are many.