Because Of The Story (Why We Blog, Part III)

May 15, 2009 | 11 comments

I can’t remember a time where I haven’t written.

I started writing stories as a grade-school girl. I began writing news when I was 16 years old. That’s when I started writing neighborhood news for the local weekly. These were the stories where you learned that Hazel and George had the neighbors over for Sunday coffee. Or where you found out that the pastor’s wife would be hosting circle and planned to serve ham-salad sandwiches. The neighborhood news was the most well-read part of any small-town newspaper. Still is. (That, and the obituaries.)


In freshman-year of college, I joined the newspaper staff. I had an opinion column with a cheesy title: “I Column As I See ‘Em.” I served as editor of the college daily for one year. My time as editor was marked by one controversial story after another: protests, sit-ins, accusations of racism directed at university administrators.

Meanwhile, the paper was entangled in disputes with the college president over our refusal to back off the coverage. (We didn’t.)

1993 — I learned a lot about the First Amendment that year, skipped more classes than I attended, and smoked a lot of cigarettes while bawling my eyes out on the loading dock behind our newsroom.

But I didn’t quit writing. I wanted to tell a story.

***

I graduated from Iowa State in 1995 and took a job covering crime at the Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska. I covered the shooting death of a police officer — who was about my age at the time. I went on stake-outs and drug raids with local officers. And I saw far too many 14-year-old boys in caskets. Their gunshot wounds were disguised by putty in the capable hands of morticians who were accustomed to this sort of thing.

1995 — I learned a lot about mortality that year … and I smoked a lot of cigarettes while bawling my eyes out on the deck of my one-bedroom apartment.

But I didn’t quit writing. I wanted to tell a story.

***

I took a job at the Des Moines Register in Iowa a few years later. I covered the Y2K disaster-that-wasn’t, the state’s methamphetamine crisis, and the Bush-Gore presidential race (with its hanging chads.)

When I was a few months pregnant with our first daughter, I drove east to Indiana to cover the execution of Timothy McVeigh. That year, I also covered tornado-ravaged cities, college-tuition hikes and one man’s attempt to eat a five-pound steak.

2001 — I learned a lot about what mattered most that year. With baby curled inside, I stopped smoking — but I still had plenty of good cries in the yard out back. Those were the years when I covered the death of family farms in Iowa, the Sept. 11 attacks, and the murder of an Iowa toddler.

Horrid as it was, I didn’t want to quit. I wanted to tell the story.

***

And then I quit news. Just. Like. That. I quit.

But the story didn’t end.

Lydia was born, on Nov. 16, 2001. With a 5-pound, 9-ounce girl cradled in the crook of my arm, the story took a turn.

Newswriting is a noble calling, indeed it can be a high calling. But I needed to set the pen aside for a time. I needed to pause for a time … and just listen.

And that’s about the time that life became more than a story to me. That’s about the time that I got to know the Author.

***

I’ve always written. This is what I do. It’s not who I am. But it is what I do.

Now let me get something straight: Writing is hard for me. It is really, really hard for me. I’ve written thousands of news stories, and it still isn’t easy.

For me
Writing is a tug-of-war with words
that don’t come easily
I grip at a sentence like it’s a braided rope.
I pull at it,
and I strain over it,
and I brace against the pull of it,
and in exhaustion, I often let go.

And most often, in the letting go,
I find the answer …
in the freedom
of having let go.

Why do I blog? I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. And I’m OK with that. This is a process of discovery.

For the first time in my life, I have no idea why I’m writing. There is no paycheck, no editor to tell me “job well done,” no front-page story, no police-scanner attached to my hip, no press conference to attend.

But I have this: a letting-go of the rope that brings me closer to the One tugging me in.

And that is more than enough. That is more than it’s ever been.

All I have seen teaches me
to trust the Creator
for all I have not seen.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

***

This is the third installment in the “Why We Blog” series. If you would like to participate by writing your own “Why We Blog” post, let me know via the “Contact Me” link or in the comments. I’ll link to you here at Getting Down With Jesus.

Participating in “Why We Blog” so far:

Sarah Lopez at “God’s Not Finished With Us Yet joined the “Why We Blog” crew today with her post and photo collage. She writes: “I blog because I have a passion that Christ has placed in me.”
mom2six at Treasures of Darkness, with her post.
Chrissy at A Pastor’s Wife … The Faith Journey. Here is her post.
Christy Rose at The Secret Life of an American Wife and Mom. Her post: “
Why I Blog.”
Spaghettipie hosted a similar series at her blog last year. Here’s her
contribution to this project.
Lyla Lindquist at A Different Story, with “
Why We Blog: Blame it on the Grasshoppers.”
James Oh at Christian Walk Toward Destiny, with
“Why We Blog”.
Valerie at Simply 4 God, with
It’s My Blogoversary.
isumom at ISU and Other Life Details, with
Why I Blog.

PHOTO: A collage of the stories behind the story.

by | May 15, 2009 | 11 comments

11 Comments

  1. Arianne

    I love reading your stories. You have a natural ability even though you say it’s hard for you. I hope to add to the Why We Blog, but I’m not through with it yet! :o)

    Have a blessed day!

    Reply
  2. Jennifer

    Thank you, Arianne. I’m encouraged by your kind words.

    I look forward to reading your Why We Blog post. I’ll drop by over the weekend to see if it’s up. Or drop me a line …

    Thank you for stopping by. I love hearing your voice.

    Reply
  3. Jennie

    “For me
    Writing is a tug-of-war with words
    that don’t come easily
    I grip at a sentence like it’s a braided rope.
    I pull at it,
    and I strain over it,
    and I brace against the pull of it,
    and in exhaustion, I often let go.”

    Dear Blogging friend,

    I am so familiar with that tug-o-war, wrestling over words. Writing doesn’t come easy to me either. I’m not fast, I’m not efficient. Sometimes I am painfully slow to get the words out…but I learn so much along the way.

    Thanks for exhausting yourself to tell the story.

    Reply
  4. valerie lynn

    I have an award for you on my blog. Blessings

    Reply
  5. patty

    Thank you for the willingness to share your story with us…it’s always a blessing.

    Reply
  6. Christine A. Mayo

    Hi just stopping in to say hello, your site is inspiring….check out my site at http://samaritiandiva.com loving the series on the reason why we blog, I think blogging helps release whats on the inside to help someone else , so God in his infinite wisdom can fill you up again and again, have a blessed day!

    Reply
  7. Monica

    Well, I’m glad you do blog 🙂 You make me think, and grow in my relationship with Christ. We live in a world that is always trying to distract us from this very important relationship and I thank God for people like you!!

    Reply
  8. elaine @ peace for the journey

    Writing is a difficult “tug” for me also. I think some would think it just falls out of my pen, but it doesn’t. Yes, there is a natural “bent” toward words, but posting often takes me a few hours to write; still and yet, I can’t keep from doing so. It’s now part of the journey that I’m on and one that has birthed innumerable friendships and love through the rich grace of God.

    He’s using the cyberspace to bring together hearts and lives in a way that stokes the fire of hell’s fury, and as for me; anything that does that? Well, I’m up for it.

    Keep to it, Jennifer. God has anointed your pen with creative impulse and foundational Truth.

    peace~elaine

    Reply
  9. L.L. Barkat

    This arrested me…

    “And then I quit news. Just. Like. That.”

    Funny, I did that with graphic art. Went to Paris, the artist’s mecca and came home to quit. Just. Like. That. Sometimes i think we’re on our way somewhere or away from somewhere and we don’t know it. Until it happens quite suddenly. We’re here. We’re gone.

    Reply
  10. Warren Baldwin

    You are a good writer – you convey an idea and do it with pizzaz. I agree with L.L. about that statement being arresting.

    This one got me, too: “Writing is a tug-of-war with words.” It is a struggle for me, too, so I’m glad to see other writers wrestle with words.

    Then your follow-up: “that don’t come easily.” Words will come, but they have to be tugged and pulled at.

    Even though it is work, I think I’ll keep writing! Thanks.

    Reply
  11. H. Gillham

    Loved all of this…

    So much WORD.

    I am a blogger, but I am not a writer.

    Interesting enough, there are so many writers who blog… and that's been pure enjoyment for me as I have found blogger after blogger giving me beautiful and meaningful writing for free.

    🙂

    Reply

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