A Writer's Life

My Life for Yours

Some people say they like writing because it’s therapeutic. And they’re often right. Writing is personal expression, getting a load off the heart. It’s a fulfilling mental exercise, often untangling numerous strands of noodles. And it is creative, one of the simplest ways there is to be artistic.

But there is more to this therapy than self-help. We have all read pathetic writers who write solely to entertain themselves and laugh at their own jokes. However, in order for any form of creative expression to communicate anything, it must be others-focused. The written word only has value when it creates ideas in a reader’s mind. The written word becomes the slave of the reader, and reader is the master of the written word.

And so a writer lives to be read; and yet, dies each time he gives his writing to an outsider. This is the dichotomy of an author’s work. Perhaps he began writing because he had thoughts --too many thoughts-- that were overflowing his valves. He found that the release of feeling as he released his thoughts, much like a good cry or a hard laugh, was gently cleansing and ordering his inner person. Therapy. Now he could sigh and step back from his work refreshed, but he was curious. Was this stuff he wrote any good? He had a feeling it was. Perhaps he should show it to somebody.

Then the struggle begins. This writing wasn’t meant to be read; or was it? What if it gets crushed? But what if it meets success? What if this is what people have been waiting for, even needing, all their lives? And he knows his writing will have no existence as it sits locked away in its tattered red notebook.

Perhaps this qualm is best answered with a Biblical concept, and one that Douglas Wilson has recently applied to the mutual sharing relationships that take place in the home, and that is: “My Life for Yours.” Every home must exhibit the generous nature of this maxim as the husband lays down his life for his wife, and his wife lays down her life for her husband; the father lays down his life for his children daily at work, and the wife lays down her life for her child each time she gives birth.


“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Writing is the release of an author’s life into words. His unique experiences, his thoughts, his research, his emotions: all are laid bare on the cross of the blank page. They are crucified, nailed there, unmoving, unapologetic, stretched out unclothed for all the world to see and mock, immortal and forsaken. The words are no longer living clay, but roast hard in the furnace and unable to be changed. Now he who reads must decide whether to identify himself with the life on the cross or spit in its face and tear its robe. Both Calvary’s climax on that great stone hill, and the author’s climax in the final words of his article involve laying down life without knowing if anyone will understand the significance of the sacrifice.

Even as I write now I am faced with the struggle of sharing my writing. It is personal, fluid, a living thing. If I publish, it will be solid and changeless. Once I say something in writing it cannot be amended. But yet-- what if exposing my writing to whatever may be in store actually accomplishes good? What if my writing really does bless somebody? That could be worth something. And if it meets ridicule, or boredom? What then? I will learn and move on, and that too is worth something. Perhaps I will be crucified upside down. I am both afraid to imitate Him and afraid not to.

Joy cometh in the morning of the third day. A note, a comment, arrives from a reader and it reveals that my logos on the cross was victorious. The writing was accepted, enjoyed, and even published. My dead words are resurrected in the minds of the readers. Now the second prophecy is fulfilled as many others are identifying with my writing, accepting the laying down of my life for them and doing likewise (“take up your cross and follow Me”). They read, think, and live, as a result of one person’s refusal to selfishly keep his life for himself. Through the death of one grain of wheat, a crop is harvested.

Death is not therapeutic. Nobody said “My life for yours” was a fair deal. But only he who lays down his life will keep it. Only he who risks losing himself will actually “find himself,” and it can be that he will gain something more than himself in the process.

© 2009 Jane Grey

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Comments 18 comments

Callie 7 years ago

This was really good! I'm looking forward to reading more of your articles!


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 7 years ago from Oregon Author

Thanks Callie! You are very encouraging! :)


Rose West profile image

Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

I love how you explain this conflict, the struggle of needing to write and needing to be read, and yet the writer feels like he "dies each time". It's beautiful!


Mary Runser 7 years ago

Very good hub with interesting biblical references to the struggles of the writer. I certainly struggle with my desire and need to write and the possibility of someone actually reading what I've written. I have "given it a go" with some free lance writing, and have been published. I am currently signed up on Hubpages, but as yet, have not put up a Hub. I suppose fear and trepidation stall my willingness to just jump in. I suppose, to echo your references, I don't want to be nailed to the cross for my words.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 7 years ago from Oregon Author

Thank you, Rose! Those are big complements and I'm flattered.

Mary: it can be intimidating to put something personal out there for all the world to see, but it sounds like you have already had some success with that! I hope you will publish something on HubPages; perhaps it would be easier to start by posting something that you have already published (within the legal ramifications, of course). And don't forget that your "hub score" or number of hits doesn't necessarily measure you as a writer! Many writers have published works that haven't become popular until years after they had passed away. Hope that's an encouragement to you, and I hope to read your articles soon!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Interesting thoughts! I always feel a little"naked" each time I put something on hubpages


SwiftlyClean profile image

SwiftlyClean 7 years ago from Texas

I should leave my footprints here, This is worthy of my visit.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 7 years ago from Oregon Author

Thank you, SwiftlyClean! This is probably my least popular hub, but it was my favorite to write and touches on a deeply personal issue.


Kendall H. profile image

Kendall H. 7 years ago from Northern CA

This definitely outlined so many things that most writers struggle with. Oddly enough even though writers are not actors on stage, we seem to be the most sensitive of artists. Thank you for a beautifully written hub!


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

You're right about the sensitivity, Kendall! I teach several writing classes to varying age groups, and I find that as my students get older they are less motivated and more self-conscious about letting others read their work. I know that I feel vulnerable every time I publish an article because words on paper seem so definite, so final, and because words show my thoughts more clearly than any other form of expression.

Thanks for your insightful comment!


coffeesnob 6 years ago

The writer living and dying. There is a sense of seasonal splendor in these words. The writer dies as "he gives his writng to an outsider" Then a budding thought emerges and brings to life a new creation that he will nurture until it is ready to be revealed. Love the heart and soul in this hub. Nice movement and very thought provoking.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

I love comparing the writer's imagination to our Lord's imagination as He plans our steps. There is something encouraging in the inevitable because it is providential and we know we are in the hands of a loving providence.

Your comment was a true blessing to me because you saw what was nearest and dearest to my heart in this article, and I have fulfilled my purpose. Thank you, thank you, for your thoughtful and deeply kind comment.


gramarye profile image

gramarye 6 years ago from Adelaide - Australia

Hehe - "lives to write but dies everytime he gives it to a stranger" or words to that effect. I can sooooooo relate to that.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Gramarye,

I know-- it's such a struggle! I always fight myself for a few seconds before I click the "publish" button on every new hub. Thanks for your sympathy. :)


ezhuthukari profile image

ezhuthukari 6 years ago from Kerala

You have described the dilemmas of a writer very well. For me, poetry is more like a therapeutic experience. Just yesterday I published a poem on writing. Check it out and tell me what you think. Like you said '...Was this stuff he wrote any good? He had a feeling it was. Perhaps he should show it to somebody.'


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Good for you, Ezhuthukari! And you are open to advice too, which is the true sign of a humble, servant-hearted writer. I'll take a look at your poetry now!


jenubouka 5 years ago

I think this is my greatest challenge and fear, spilling my soul on a permanant platform only to be crushed by a reader or skeptic.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 5 years ago from Oregon Author

Jen,

Sometimes it is the ones who are crushed and spring back who learn how to write the best. Practically every famous classic writer had editors and publishers repeatedly reject their work before someone finally decided that they liked it. I hope you will write, especially if it will bless others! But I certainly understand. I have a hub sitting, unpublished in my list right now; I'm not sure if I can publish it yet!

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