Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bleeding at the typewriter

Okay, break's over. I need to start writing again.

I mean, I've been writing. Just not here. No, I don't have another blog. I'm not cheating on this blog by posting elsewhere. I'm a monogamous blogger.

I wrote and delivered a talk to my ACTS team tonight. It was about the role that values play in my life. I was supposed to talk about service, which would have been easy because I heard a service talk a few months ago and immediately had a shit-ton of ideas on how to write my own. So that's what I signed up for, and that's what I got. I was pretty pleased with myself.

Then the Holy Spirit decided that shit like that doesn't fly, and that we only grow when we are challenged, and blah blah blah. My retreat director called me one night and said, "Oh, hey, so there's another team member who feels really CALLED to talk about service. Do you want to talk about forgiveness or values?" Well, fuck. My last talk was about forgiveness and if I did that again I'd be mailing it in. I mean, I'm all past that and stuff. This left values.

Values are really fucking hard to write about, because they're so damn ambiguous. Forgiveness is easy: someone does something incredibly boneheaded and you forgive them. Viola! Service is pretty walk in the park, too: these are all the ways I help others. Boom. Done.

Values? Yeah. Huh.

So I said, okay, I'll do values, because I try really hard in group situations like this to be the easy one, the path of least resistance, the person who fills in the holes and makes life easier for the poor slob stuck running the whole show. And then I hung up and stuffed it down deep in my brain because I wasn't ready to think about it.

I mean, I had a chunk of it immediately. There are two men who were instrumental in forming my values as I was growing up. It's not too difficult for me to talk about what amazing men I have for fathers. But the crux of these talks is baring your soul, sharing a difficult time or a struggle and how you made it through. That's where the good stuff is. The juicy stuff that people can either relate to, or be amazed by. It's where you strike the chords, get attention, drive home a point.

So I forgot about it, and off we went on our vacation. I was stupid and checked my email periodically, mostly to avoid being blindsided by anything huge happening at work or at home. Last Monday our retreat team got an email from the director, in which she cheerfully reminded everyone that Amy is giving her talk on values next Tuesday night!

This is when the alarm bells started sounding in my head. Instant panic. I think I even started sweating. Well, as it turns out, riding for miles and miles in a car with beautiful scenery all around gives you lots of time to think. Ideas started forming, and I bounced them off M. He solidified a few things, suggested a few improvements, and my brain was off to the races. Sunday, after we dropped Zoe off at Girl Scout camp, we went to his new office so he could put things away and generally get set up. I took my laptop and, as he likes to describe it, barfed all over the page. The entire speech came out in a torrent of typing. A few tweaks here and there, insert appropriate scripture reference, a final proof to make sure no f-bombs sneaked in (this is a church talk, for fuck's sake), and it was in the can. I felt better immediately.

Until tonight when I had to deliver it to my team. Holy shit I hate public speaking. The writing was easy, once I finally knew what I wanted to say. It was having to stand in front of 30 people and read it. All while trying to make eye contact and slow-the-shit-down-already. (I tend to machine gun my speech when I get nervous.)

So I'm on the flip side now, having delivered it, and feeling much better about the whole thing, although I'm a bit flummoxed by my comment sheets. "Share more of your faith journey!" "You shared enough of your faith journey!" "Slow down a bit!" "Your delivery was perfect!" I do have some edits I want to make, but sheesh. It's hard to tell exactly what to do when some people say do this and others say do that. Eh, I'll figure it out. The hard part is over. I bled.

Ernest Hemingway said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed."

My best writing comes when I'm passionate about something, when I bleed.

Or maybe when I'm drunk.

(I'm neither tonight, but feeling somewhat slackerish since it's been so long since I posted. I guess I wanted to get something out here that says yes, I've been writing. Just not here.) (And this was an incredibly long-winded way to say that.) (Many apologies.)


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