The walls were mostly yellow. Some green, white, red and blue had ended up in the mix, but only out of necessity. I spun around in my place as each grew taller. Eventually, I could sit cross-legged in the tower I was building out of blocks. Each of the facades contained a window, not much higher than eye-level. I had to see if my sister or my cousin were approaching so I could prepare myself for the battle they’d bring.
Once my edifice was about a foot taller than me (it might not have been a foot. I was six and everything seemed bigger then than it does now), I began to add the embellishments. Crenelation was necessary to any real castle, or at least the ones I had seen on TV, so I staggered blocks across the top. I had plenty of blocks left after that, so I began to build a tower in the corner to my right. I had to take part of the adjoining walls apart to make this stable enough to stand, but I had all the time in the world to do this.
I let myself get so caught up in the construction process that I didn’t notice that my sister and cousin had made their way into the room. By the time I heard them giggling, it was too late. The girls pulled the walls down from the outside and in so doing, provoked my temper. We threw blocks at each other until I hit my older sibling in the eye and as a result, got punched in the stomach. We were all so annoyed at that point that the fight was really about to begin, but the commotion and yelling had caught both of my parents’ attention. Their presence was sufficed for ending the battle. I was in trouble for hitting my sister with a block, she got a lecture about antagonizing me.
I loved building things. Linkin logs, Legos and blocks were my favorite toys when I was a child. My imagination manifested all types of creations constructed from uniform pieces of plastic and wood. Inspiration and invention led way to fabrications that started wars, housed Tonka trucks and imprisoned dogs.
Many years have passed and I still want to build. I’m still piecing things together only now, I use words. Verbs, nouns, adjectives, conjunctions and adverbs help me construct run-on sentences and stories, talk crap, declare accusations and make attempts at profundity and humor. Words fit together like blocks, each has its place right between any number of other ones. I’m only limited by my imagination, curiosity and occasionally, a lack of rage. If for some reason I’m deficient in one of these, it’s only a matter of time before one of the others ignites and I’m at work again.
My question is this: Do you write because you have something to say,
or because you love the craft?
(hint: Both are entirely acceptable and I would imagine that all of us would like to think we have something to say….)
It depends. Sometimes I write because I have something to say, and sometimes I write because I want to evoke something that remains unsaid. I think the latter is the love of the craft.
I’m with you on that one, I think I’m going to write a post involving my sentiments when I twitter vomited all over you 😉
First off – another great post. You really have a gift at pulling the reader into your stories. In 5 short paragraphs I already felt like I was the one building the tower (of course, Legos were my favorite toy growing up, next to my suh-weet He-Man action figures. And my GI Joe’s).
As for your question – it’s both for me. I love the craft of writing – finding the right words, putting them together in a way that evokes feeling and (hopefully) action. Sometimes I have my posts all done with the content I want, but have to go back and rework it because it doesn’t “sound” the way I want. I was told in college that I have the ability to write a 5-6 line sentence that is NOT a run-on. What can I say, I like words =D
Thanks Jason! Every now and again, I worry that I’m completely and utterly formulaic. The idea of it just bugs me…. but I digress at this point. I’m glad that it’s both. I can’t stand it when I hear a musician who can write good music, but ruins it with their thoughts (that hits on our pop music twitter conversation). and I hate it when some IDIOT tells a wonderful story that ends up leading us down some path of thought that frankly, should be left alone. It DEPRESSES THE DEUCES OUT OF ME! Lastly, I like short sentences, but I’m good at long ones too. I still call them run-ons because if the reader lost the point in the middle of the process, then someting’s wrong. Not that you do that at all, but sometimes I worry that I do it!
I wouldn’t call it formulaic. You have a gift at telling a story and have found a method that communicates your “message” while also being very creative and drawing the reader in. I genuinely look forward to your posts and will be one of the first to nab your book whenever you write it.
I actually had a professor in college who helped me get better at writing shorter, more concise sentences. It was hell and I hated doing it then, but so glad he pushed me to and helped me to write better.
Now I’ve been able to see my craft of writing get better, but also impact people. I had a coworker earlier this week tell me that he’s been reading my blog and it’s made him start wondering if he should start pursuing God. He’s really opened up to me more and I’ve been able to help him through some tough situations. So very humbling.
Thanks. You seriously have no idea how much I worry about that one. I’m stoked that your coworker reads your blog and what? It points to God? Of course. That’s the best thing, the biggest desire when it comes to writing, that it would direct someone toward Jesus. I’m excited for you!! The writing prof that taught me the most almost killed me with homework, but the man is brilliant and also happens to be a great teacher and a wonderful human (he’s also atheist… something I would like to fix… but 1-didn’t see any results the first time 2- don’t see him anymore… I will henceforth look for him on the facebook). Either way, his classes were hell, just like yours. It’s not easy, learning how to write!!!
I’ve been challenged myself to try out different writing styles. My posts this week have come from a different place within me – I think they lack the same “I’m just sharing my feelings and turning it around to challenge you” feel. I wanted something more professional when talking about dreams. I know all the “advice” points to finding your voice and then sticking with it, but I like changing things up a bit.
Have you ever tried writing a parable? I ran across a speaker and writer a few months back from Ireland who crafts parables – has a message he wants to communicate, but does so by telling a story, not just telling us what he wants to say. So – pretty much your posts without the wrap up at the end, I think you would be really good at it – using your stories to communicate a message without telling us what it is. Something to think about mate (yes, I did just pull out my fake British accent for you).
Jason, I think I need to try that approach, just to keep challenging myself. I think I always explain myself… maybe I should try avoiding it just once. It’ll be a good test for clarity in my stories anyway…
Definitely worth a try. I love trying new things and stretching my writing skills. Doesn’t always work out, but at least I tried, you know? Like I said, though, I think you would be really good at it.
Great post Jake, near and dear to my heart. I didn’t have blocks or toys like that as a kid, we actually use to pilfer through construction site trash piles and use the left over lumber to build forts. OK I have to confess we did swipe a few full pieces sometimes. The last fort we built using the construction debris was a three story with trap doors, it was cool. Once it was complete the fun was really over, then of course the rats took over and I think we eventually burned it down. It’s been in my blood my whole life to build things. That’s what I do for a living, I design and build things. I’ve told many friends and family that in truth, writing is exactly like designing something. The building part is turning thoughts into reality. To have something where before there was nothing is the gratification, that is the part that I love. The other part is that yes I have something to say or I believe God has something for me to say. My first manuscript titled the Common Threads Of Greatness is a pretty hard hitting study of the characteristics that make up great people based on a biblical perspective. The blog was some of the agents ideas to help create a platform. I find it fun, although I’ve learned I really have to temper the fire I really want to use to express myself. I think Christians are looking like the white washed wishy washy pansy faces that define a lost, weak, perishing world. The true bad asses in this world are Christians, God doesn’t call weak people, He calls strong in HIm people who have the desire and perseverance to walk the straight and narrow path of God. Any fool can roll down the wide path of destruction.
I write because it’s the flame of passion that God has lit inside me, I’ve spent a life time learning the hard way the things that need to be shared with our brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s what I’m gonna do, win or lose, acknowledged by the world or not, I won’t be dissuaded. That’s why I like your posts, they’re real, no pretentiousness. Right up my alley brother…
Floyd. You said bad asses and pansy in the same response. That basically makes you my hero. Your statement, “I think Christians are looking like the white washed wishy washy pansy faces that define a lost, weak, perishing world.” is entirely true. But they want people who look tough, who don’t mind YELLING about unimportant things and are afraid to piss people off because they need the numbers and really crave the support. As long as it all looks good, we’re alright. It’s bloody ridiculous. If you were ever willing to share, I’d love to read Common Threats of Greatness. It sounds fascinating!
I’d love for you to read it if you have the hankerin’! It’s pretty long, over 200 pages, if your bored and want to give me some input, I’d love the feedback.