In the movie “Little Women,” and I would assume the book as well- though I’m embarrassed to say I don’t actually know- there’s a moment that few people remember unless you were born to write. It’s late in the movie after Jo had moved to New York and spent her time writing and dreaming and growing. She met the old professor guy whom she’d later marry (don’t’ get me started, I’m totally on team Laurie) and he said one thing I haven’t forgotten in the 4 or 5 years since I watched it. He tells Jo that he knew she was a writer from the moment he saw her because of the callus and the ink on her hands.
I was running a bath a few nights ago and this moment from the movie popped into my head. I lamented briefly, mostly because bloggers have no distinct mark and I want inky calloused hands. I started thinking about the marks of a writer today, with pen and ink being replaced by keyboard and monitor, paper turning to blank screens and writing desks to computer armoires. And then I wondered about the marks of a wife.
Aside from my wedding ring, which I usually remember to wear, I could think of no physical marks I bear because of marriage. Kyle might argue that the days I go without makeup could be a marker, though he never had class with me in college and this is definitely a step up. It could be the amount of groceries I buy or the excitement I have in spending nights at home. But I have a feeling that the marks of a married person rest on our scarred souls, marred by day after day of being humbled and broken, knowing our parents and siblings aren’t the only ones who found us imperfect. I hope it’s in the way I forgive others and the lessons I’ve learned about listening and sharing dreams and finances and creative spaces.
What is one mark you bear or hope to bear because of marriage?
Whenever I write a long post or put a story together I always send it to one or two of my friends who are smarter than me (wife included) for them to edit.
NOTE: If I’ve never sent you a story don’t be disappointed, you wouldn’t have wanted to read it anyway. All my friends who I’ve brutally asked to sit through 3,000+ mangled words are nodding their heads in agreement right now.
Anyway my friends do a great job helping me edit, showing me where my stories lack, and secretly erasing my lame Justin Bieber references without telling me. All for my own good of course.
I struggle with this process sometimes though. It’s kind of ironic actually, I ask for constructive criticism, they provide above and beyond that, and I silently scream at them in my head when they return it to me:
“Well who died and went and made you Hemingway?!?!”
“Yes, I understand the origin of the semicolon!!!”
“Of course I know it’s ‘their’ and not ‘they’re’, I was just in a hurry, OK!!!”
Then I calm down and realize what a benefit their time and work are to me. They’re vital to the process (see I know how to use it).
Essentially, I asked Jen to be my life editor when I married her. I asked her to come into my world and help clean up my mess so my life’s story, not just the one I’m typing, is more of what the Lord wants it to be. Even as I’m silently screaming at her in my head.
We’ve been talking about this blog a lot lately. That sounds a lot more arrogant when I lead with it than it did when I was writing this post in my head. I should clarify, we’ve been experiencing some emotional breakdowns weight on account of our 365 day promise. Blogging is difficult. I think it’s a lot harder than writing. Brevity was never a strong characteristic of mine.
We have, in a strange sense, been challenged by the very existence of our own blog in the last few weeks. When we sit down to read blogs we like to experience something special or something creative or something insightful. In turn we want to provide that on our own blog. We want to live that so we can blog about it. It keeps us on our toes. It forces us to create more and think more and do more in real life because nobody wants to read 25 straight posts about us watching TV shows or sitting on the couch. We don’t want that to be our story either. When you blog about your life every day you start paying closer attention to what you do with your time and the wasteful moments become far more abhorrent.
[uhhh hold on…my wife just brought me one of these guys…I gotta take a quick break]
The hard part has been going out and creating a legitimate story rather than just doing random intriguing stuff because we need something to blog about. This blog has been a catalyst of a lot of the events taking place in our lives over the last few months. Let me explain: we don’t go see cool movies so we can tell you what we saw and we don’t buy new books so we can show you what we read. However, we have been choosing non-traditional methods of living, finding better hobbies, creating more thoughtful ideas, and asking harder questions about why we do what we do. We’ve been asking a lot of questions.
Without the blog, does any of that happen? I don’t know.
There’s a quote above the Oklahoma State training room in Gallagher-Iba Arena that goes like this, “if something isn’t difficult and you don’t have to work hard then you won’t care whether you win or lose.” I don’t really know what our “win” is on this blog but I know that if you’re inspired to become more like the Lord because of any single word we’ve typed on here then all the hours we’ve pumped into it are completely worth it. And if our story becomes better because of it…well, all the better.
Why are we writing this post? Mostly for ourselves. Do we think each of you should start a blog? Maybe. More than that we think you should find something that forces you to live a more thoughtful, creative story.
What is that thing for you? What forces you to live rather than to just exist?
Oh, and my tipping point for writing all this? See below:
My wife got a letter in the mail today. Like, a hand-written, pen and paper, genuine letter. I sat back in my chair as she cheerily tore into it and devoured its contents. Then she said something curious, “letters in the mail are so much better because you only have so much space so you have to convey your words with precision and meaning.” Ok, she didn’t say it exactly like that, but that’s what she meant.
If you’re reading this post and you’ve met me there’s roughly a 50% chance you’ve received a note or letter from me in the mail. It would have been in all capital letters (somebody forgot to turn my internal caps lock off as a kid) and I likely would have jammed my name in the bottom right corner because I hate being confined by finite white space.
Jen’s probably right though, brief is always better than rambling (kind of makes this post ironic, huh?).
Anyway, my parents always bribed us with Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books forced us as kids to write thank you notes and letters. It made me annoyed at them (maybe it still does?) but I thank them for it now because I think it’s one of the places I developed my love for writing.
This isn’t about me though (actually, technically it is since my mug is plastered all over the pages of the URL you just typed in…but whatever). It’s about the fact that letter writing is a dying art and I want to know why.
There’s something innately mysterious about seeing your name in dried ink on the front of an envelope. It’s hard to explain. It’s kind of like the first time you go on a date with a girl or the feeling you get when you buy a book you’ve been dying for. You don’t know what the future holds but in that moment it can be anything you can imagine.
The future of letter writing though, who knows? Where’s it going? Where’s it gone? Do we not have enough time? Do we think writing on the web is better because it is, theoretically, endless? Is it too expensive?
I want your thoughts. Best theory gets a letter from me. It’ll be short. Unlike this post.
I love to write. I think that’s fairly obvious. I once wrote like 9,000,000 words on OSU going undefeated in football last year. Then Dez got….well you know how that story ends, that’s not why we’re here though.
One of my friends (who has a great blog – shameless plug) recently wrote about the importance of pursuing a woman, about how women were meant to be chased, and caught, and chased some more. That sentence makes him sound like he moved to Utah, bought three double-wides, and set up camp as a full-time polygamist. I didn’t mean for it to sound like that. I meant for this to be a rebuttal to my wife’s beautiful post from earlier this week.
Another one of my friends (I’ve listed roughly 8%-9% of my friends on this post) told me a story one time about his story and how he was trying to make it better. He got married on May 30, 2009 and on the 30th of every month he writes his wife a letter (I don’t know what he does in February). He writes a letter about how proud he is of her and how much he loves her and how much he wants to keep chasing her and romancing her. I admire this friend quite a bit.
In fact, I decided to emulate him. On the 5th of every month I’m going to write Jen a letter (printing out my latest post and shoving it in an envelope doesn’t count either). I’m going to write to her about how much I admire her and about how she makes me want to be something greater than I usually think I want to be. I’m sure sometimes I’ll tell her where I’m struggling and where I think our relationship could use some improvement. And most always I’ll assure her that this whole thing is real and wonderful, even when it doesn’t seem like it.
J.D. Salinger, he of “Catcher in the Rye” fame and glory, was quoted once as saying “there are still a few men who love desperately.” I’m not trying to go all DiCaprio in Titanic melodrama on you, but it’s true. The world is overflowing with things to love and it would appear that a lover of one woman’s soul is not a cultural stature to be attained in this current age.
But we are not here to get lost in culture. Writing letters is how we fell in love, it’s likely how we’ll stay. For to write to another is to read and translate one’s own thoughts and ideas into something coherent and wonderful. To write is to be alive. And if you don’t believe me, just remember the medium through which God gave us the most important story that’s ever been told.