Last week as the 31 Days of Advent in October series was coming to an end I realized I was so engrossed in writing it that I hadn’t had a chance to discuss it. You may be thinking, “Wow, what an odd thing to say Kim. In writing it weren’t you discussing it?” Well, the writing of it is one thing, but the experience of the process is something completely different. And it turns out I think I have a lot to say about the experience.
Just in case you have no idea what I am talking about you can check it out here and here. But I just completed a 31 Day writing challenge over at The Nester’s online home. For the past several years she has invited bloggers to write for 31 days straight about the same topic in the month of October as a way of building an online community, encouraging others in their blogging journey, and to help bloggers remember why it is they signed up for this writing life.
Last October, for the second year in a row, I read The Nester’s 31 Day invitation and subsequent series and really longed to join in what looked like a Big Fun Writing Party. But alas, I had no blog and therefore, no way to join the party. Until of course it finally occurred to me that all I needed was a name for my blog, $10 (or whatever it was) to register the domain name, and an afternoon to set everything up through WordPress. And just like that, on a cold afternoon in January, on my big red couch in my living room, Gracefullyunraveled – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly was born.
So the couple of months leading up to October 2013 the question loomed in the back of my mind, are you going to do it? Are you going to join the writing party? The truth is I waffled back and forth for several weeks because I had a couple of big commitments (at least big for me) already lined up and I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the idea of writing about the same topic EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR 31 STRAIGHT DAYS. I wasn’t sure if I could do it.
Apparently it all worked out because here I am writing this post on October 31st (even though it will publish in a week), my last post in the series went live this morning at 6:00 a.m. and here are some of my initial reflections on this journey:
1) I loved this experience from beginning to end! I was concerned that if I made the “commitment” to participate that at some point it might become drudgery, but it never did. Some of the posts were a little more difficult to develop, but it was never drudgery. Sitting down to write each post was such a joy because I didn’t have to struggle to make anything fit. As I read each advent selections I could see lots of different strands that I could pull and follow and respond to. Ann’s book, The Greatest Gift, is so rich that I could probably go through this exercise multiple times and write completely different responses each time. (Please, please, GET THIS BOOK before December 1st…it was life changing for me and every bit as important as One Thousand Gifts, also by Ann Voskamp.)
2) Even if no one else ever read any of my posts except me it was worth every second of it. The process of writing each post ministered to me in a deep way. When I say the process I mean reading each day’s selection, internalizing it, and then articulating a response. I wept through almost all of them as God convinced me personally of His coming just for my heart. And that He’s been coming for me since before the beginning. I am tearing up now thinking about it. The only struggle was that sometimes there just didn’t seem to be words adequate to articulate the work going on in my heart.
3) As I thought about this post I considered including a link to my favorite ones in the series. The problem is I LOVED EVERY SINGLE POST. Of course they weren’t perfect and given more time I could have done a much better job editing and polishing them, but each one of them had a unique and necessary thing to speak to the series as a whole and I couldn’t choose any of them over the others.
4) This experience confirmed to me that art inspires art. My posts came directly from my personal conversations with the Lord about another artist’s work. My responses were different than Ann Voskamp’s, but they were certainly inspired by hers. And they were also inspired by MANY other things I’ve read and experienced over the last few years – One Thousand Gifts, Grace for the Good Girl, several books of the Bible, my Advanced Discipleship Training (ADT) class, all of my classmates in ADT. I am still thinking about this and I actually believe it’s a very important point. I think it speaks to our need for community on many levels. I have heard other writers say that when they experience a “dry season” they realize it is because they are not reading and/or engaging in their life enough. I am sure all of them will be glad to know that now I also agree. 🙂
5) The end product, meaning each post, was less important to me than the process of creating it. That actually surprised me. I came to this conclusion when I realized that every time someone said they liked my post or gave me encouragement (which I really needed and was very grateful for because this was a huge endeavor for me), I said “Thank you”, but I found myself wanting to talk about how that particular post had developed. I just couldn’t figure out a way to say that to anyone without sounding like I wanted to talk about myself. 🙂 (I tend to overuse emoticons when I feel awkward about something I’ve just written, but I think I am the only one who didn’t know that about myself.)
6) One of the best things about this journey was dialoguing with the Lord about each of the posts and allowing the post to be an expression of my union with Him. I know that sounds sort of mystical and I don’t mean for it to, but I am not sure how else to say it. I was openly using a jumping off point from Ann Voskamp’s, The Greatest Gift, but chewing on each writing selection, internalizing the message and then spinning it back out into each post for others to consume, enjoy (or even reject) was a very personal expression of something the Lord and I were doing together.
7) This point is going to sound crazy, but in the interest of full disclosure, I feel that to exclude this one would be dishonest. I loved the 31 Days journey so much that I am a bit concerned/afraid/worried/scared to death that the next blog writing project (which I have in mind, but will talk about later) won’t be as good or amazing in terms of process or end product. 😦 I know this is completely irrational…and will probably sound even more crazy when I share the idea for the next topic here in this space. (I have said it before, but it bears repeating, I often think my role in life is to provide the comic relief for the rest of you.)
I may have more to share but these are my initial thoughts. I am a firm believer in the idea that as we move through the events of our lives we have absolutely no clue as to their significance until some time has passed and we gain more context and perspective. So here’s to being clueless and loving it!