Full Stops & Commas
Writing was definitely not on top of my list as being one of my accomplished goals while being in school for the short time that I was. Come to think of it reading was pretty low on the list too. Always behind in climbing the color reading charts, that I managed to find a fast way just to be good enough to pass.
As an adult, not an entirely responsible or mature one at that, I am a work in progress. I was captivated by listening to renown public figures, who prided themselves in the way that they were able to hold the attention of their audience through their brutal humorous, well-quipped truths. There was one person that I took a particular liking to, Paul Henry. A New Zealand broadcaster, who would take the risk of saying the things that everyone in the room was thinking but too scared to say. An openness that wasn't always welcome.
After listening to one of his hilariously honest stories, I thought, I would like to get to know you a little more. So I marched myself up to the local bookstore and purchased his autobiography. It was the best read ever, I found myself letting out roars of laughter at some of his life lessons. It was a book that was hard to put down.
Before that point, I couldn't understand how someone would choose reading a book over watching the movie. I was mystified when I would read reviews - Riveting thriller, Action packed, Words taking on a life of their own, that type of stuff, things that would confuse me. How do you get all of that from a book?
Fast forward a few years, and now here I am, a published author. I think I get it now, it is a craft that lays squarely on the shoulders of the author. Who possesses a skill and passion for drawing the reader into a world where we the readers are allowed to pull up a chair, lean against a wall or sit quietly at their feet as they invite us into their world. A precious world of words, framed to make each sentence cause us to build an imagery of pictures that make us feel like this experience is more than just watching a movie from the outside looking in, but to in fact draw us in further and to perhaps morph ourselves into one of the characters.
People spend years crafting this gift, a fabulous one at that. One that I can now appreciate and try and aim towards even remotely good at.
One of the hardest things that I have had to learn about this writing process. Is that even when I think it's done and ready? I'm prepared to hit the print button. There seems to be these hidden floodgates of edits that jump off the page that I never noticed before.
This editing phase can be much like my life. Just when I think I have reached my state of perfection. God reveals and highlights areas of my life, attitudes, and thoughts that are in need of an edit. That some parts of my life are requiring a full spot or a comma.
I noticed that every well crafted, well-edited book. The author has the power of shifting and changing the direction of the story with the punctuations and grammatical enhancements that they choose to use.
It's what I have found God doing with my life. Two of my favorite punctuation marks were highlighting fresh perspectives on this new journey of my life.
My life was full of full stops which would usually be followed by a period of procrastinating. A very long winded paragraph break. Pausing too long to move forward. Not noticing the capital letter that accompanies the full stop, set in place by God to begin a new sentence, an original thought, a further step forward, a new lesson. I needed to make sure that I didn't settle in this state of procrastination, this state of waiting passively for dreams to appear, for healing to take place, for the future to be lived out. I needed to actively start a new sentence, to bring attention to my heart and mind that we were about to embark on a grand adventure of the untouched parts of my fresh imaginations. To give my dreams the wings needed to take flight.
John Maxwell said it well "Jump now and build your wings along the way."
And then, of course, there are the commas. Where do I start with commas? In writing, commas have become my close friends, if I didn't know where to next, I would add a comma. During my life, I have learned to use these in place of adding a new paragraph or a full stop. My editing tool was usually prompting me to add a full stop due to the wordiness that I used the commas to hide. A whole lot of great stuff that looked all too fluffy, because I chose to group them together with a comma.
God has allowed me to see these commas in my life as a "same, same but different" view. It looks the same - the setting, the background, the people, the fluff. But there is a new lesson to be learned here. This has been helpful when I let out the "Not again" cry, words that trapped me in a circle around the same mountain again mentality, instead of taking notice of the lessons or direction that was being birthed. The new sentence that I was heading towards. Teaching me to replace the comma with a full stop, when I would sometimes relish too long on the various points. Learning to look for the new experiences rather than been fixated on the feelings that were grouped together in a familiar pattern that locked me into the past tense.
Edits, though a time and energy consuming part of my journey, add to the richness and authentic quality of the whole story. These edits that I have come to accept as part of taking on the characteristics of our creator. And no one knows our story better than the author and finisher of our faith - God. Who spoke a word and we become, and who crafts the details of our lives to reflect His beautiful, and abounding love, with an unparalleled penmanship.
I have learned to admire and value the process that an author goes through, to draw the reader into the story. I believe God as the ultimate author is always looking for new ways to open our eyes to the part we play in His story, His plan, drawing us in, as deep calls to deep.