The Purpose of Writing


Rule #1 – Never, under any circumstances, (whether in part or in whole) re-read something you’ve had published. Yeesh. You’ll want to rip your eyeballs out and snatch the book back from everyone that has a copy. It’s just not a good idea. I read somewhere that Mark Twain felt the same way. I should have listened.

Rule #2 Do not let your soul forget why you write. More importantly, do not forget Who called you to this.

I have broken both of these rules. I’ve read bits and pieces of my novel, mainly when someone tells me where they are in the story and I need a reminder about what happens in “Chapter 17”. The problem with re-reading your work is that it can always be fixed and revised. Always.

But that’s more embarrassing than detrimental. The real danger to your life as a writer is if you forget why you do it in the first place. That’s the danger to any of us whether we’re writers, mothers, counselors, pastors, etc. Not every job has a purpose beyond paying the bills (raise your hand if you were a bank teller for seven years (hand raised). But I think we all have something in us that we feel called to do, whether it is work or something else.

I’ve written numerous start-up stories and short stories over many years, sharing them only with my husband and parents, a few friends, and at times a Bible Study leader. It has been a private thing for me…until now. I kept it private because I’m afraid of other authors.

There I said it.

In this new world I’m in – the public writing realm- I have been blessed to meet some very talented authors. Genuine, kind, intelligent people. And I’ve been blessed to read their masterpieces. And I shrink in embarrassment that I could ever pretend to run in the same circle as them.

I’ve been plugging away at book 2 in my series. It’s infinitely more difficult to write something you know people are waiting to read. The expectation, the new, very talented acquaintances, the horrific, frightening world of marketing…it’s been piling up and I’m overwhelmed. I started to shrink back a bit.

The other night I scrolled through my old blog to have a laugh at my older girls’ antics when they were just toddlers. I love that I captured so much of our day to day to go back and read about. I stumbled upon a post, written two years before I began to write “The Earth is Full”. A shiver worked over me when I got to the middle. I remember that the months leading up to writing the book had been charged with a “Something is about to happen” feeling. But I forgot that the Lord had been preparing me long before that. I am so thankful that He reminded me of why I write: Because He told me to. And that’s all that matters.

Here is that post:

The other night Mr. Riehl and I were watching the news and saw that our high the next day was supposed to be 5*.

We were laughing hysterically.

For some reason the high of 5 just tickled us.

This morning as I shuffled around in fuzzy socks, fed my babies hot cereal and pushed the cookies I made last night further out of Little Miss’ sneaky reach, I developed a heaviness of heart.

I can’t stop thinking about those that have no fuzzy socks, warm oatmeal, fresh ginger cookies, or even a home to shuffle about in.

Suddenly 5* isn’t so funny.

God has been molding me for new things lately. I don’t know what, but He has subtly, consistently, been prodding my heart. Almost a foreshadowing. A hint.

“Get ready, My child, I’m preparing something new for you. You are about to step into your purpose.”

I’ve written before about feeling out of place. Without purpose.

Really the only purpose is to love God, love others. Serve Him, honor Him, follow Him.

I get stuck on the how. I want a plan. Specific details. I list to check off, so to speak.

I realize that He will show me the how in His own way. I just need to be ready and willing to obey.

So today, I’m thankful for many things: my family, of course. My home. Food on the table. A steady job for my husband. Clothes on my back. A second car to escape the “stuck at home mom” feelings I had last year.

I’m overwhelmingly thankful for my Lord and Savior. For His gentle, yet stern way with me. His passion in every sunset, His consistency with the seasons.

I’m thankful for a Bible study that teaches me truths I might not have seen on my own. For a humble teacher that is funny, honest and wise.

Yes, I’m thankful.

But another realization is with me this year: I am humbled. With one twist, one bad phone call, one financial collapse, I could be in any other place.

I could be in a car today.

Or on the street today.

I could be wondering how to feed and protect my babies today.

I am here because God placed me here. And not to keep me warm and cozy.

I am here and it’s my responsibility to share.

To serve.

To keep others warm and cozy.

I’m done wondering how.

Now I simply say, “Lead, Lord. I will follow. Command, Lord. I will obey. I will share. I will love as You have loved me.”

Oh yes, Lord. I’m so thankful.

Please make me humble.

Please, Lord, make me like You.


3 thoughts on “The Purpose of Writing

  1. I resonate with every nuance of what you share in this post. Just reaching the first summit myself; you are so much farther ahead. But even here, I can quail. So, two things—the first for you; the second for both of us. (1) Friend, you are a gifted communicator and belong in the league of writers to whom you refer. (2) Maybe the verse I’m praying as I near the summit (or prepare to jump off it, not sure which) will encourage your heart as it does mine these days: “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” Praying for both a quieting and a gladdening of your soul tonight.

  2. Jeanelle, I am so thankful to know you. You have a way with words and encouragement unlike any other. Thank you for your sweetness. I will say that verse over and over today!

  3. Wow, that comment just blessed me so much Bethany. Thank you, my friend—coming from one encourager to another, and one gifted writer to me, that means a lot. I am so thankful to know you too. Our friendship is a wonderful by-product of this writing journey!

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