(*actually it was a year on 6 Jan 2013, so I’m a month late. But hey! I’m writing my blogoversary post anyway.)
It’s something that people ask me quite often nowadays: have you always been a writer?
And the truth is, I am surprised when people call me a writer. I giggle a bit internally, and then shyly puff up my feathers a bit and stretch my head up tall as I try it on: writer.
It was a childhood ambition; I wrote mediocre stories that I inflicted on a select few (you know who you are – sorry!!) and then when I was fifteen I discovered poetry and poured out my soul in secret.
And then after university – nothing. I exchanged writing for talking and was very happy about that, until I got so ill that I couldn’t see friends much anymore.
This is why I started the blog. I was housebound, i was bored, I had to ration the times i could chat to friends because it was too physically exhausting. I had no outlet, and my brain was all congested with millions of impatient thoughts, honking loudly. I started writing because I could no longer talk. It was my way of saying to the world, ‘hey! I am still here! I have thoughts!’
After a good friend gave me a couple of encouraging pushes, i wrote my first blog post in excitement and trepidation, armed only with a ‘list of interesting thoughts’ that I could post, vowing to stop when I had got them all down.
Starting to write regularly felt like I was returning to a childhood home – when you walk through the door and everything is just the same and you smile in fond recognition; it looks and smells like comfort. I was catching up with a long-lost friend, and it was as if no time has passed.
And then, somewhere along July or August, I fell unexpectedly in love. I turned into one of those annoying gushing teenagers who can only talk about their boyfriend: “I am SO loving blogging! I just want to spend all my time writing – I’m so surprised by how much I love it!’ We had a brief row when he got a bit demanding and clingy but now we’re back together and I think it may just work out. (Fellow writers – you know what I’m talking about, right??)
A favour and a PRESENT!
At the risk of sounding like Gwyneth Paltrow accepting her Oscar, I would like to gush a bit about how wonderful this experience has been and how thankful I am to everyone who reads this blog and the friends I have made through it.
I am profoundly grateful for every reader and every commenter who has encouraged me with a “you too? Me too!” and for the writers in this crazy blogosphere who have inspired me, who have taught me to write, who have kept my thoughts Godwards. Thank you.
Over to you – I need your feedback!
As a thank you to my readers, I would like to offer a FREE gift to two lucky commenters, chosen at random from the comments below this post at 12noon GMT on Tuesday 19 Feb. There are three things that I found really helpful in those eighteen months that I was housebound and blogless:
I will choose two winners at random (US or UK entry only) from the comments and notify you by email: you can let me know which ONE of the above books/CDs you’d like me to send.
To help jog your memory for the comments, here’s a list of the blog posts of 2012:
In January I wrote my First Ever blog post on calling and how I had found myself writing with my left hand; I wrote about Abraham and insurance and how God is not sensible, and a love letter for all who suffer in silence: Hagar encountering the God who sees.
In February I thought about my writing voice and I broke my iPad, I explained that having M.E. does not make me heroic and that chronic illness is not a battle. With tears and trembling I wrote out my story of the last two years, my journey of learning to trust, and I guest-posted for the first time..
Then I had an M.E. relapse and fell down a mountain. I got my preach on and said This Should Not Be. I repainted life with my teeth, wobbled my way through Mothers’ Day, dug deep into Psalm 126 and discovered Five Minute Friday for the first (and second) time.
In April the relapse kicked in and the only thing I could write was about Living in the In-between. In May I worshipped before wrestling, asked you to care about M.E. and introduced you an amazing poet. I ran away from God and I felt empty, and like a faker. I had a speed date with my husband, decided to be more encouraging, and decided that Facebook wasn’t anti-gospel.
June was all about getting angry with God, and I decided if it was good enough for Job, it was good enough for me. In Five Minutes, I looked at looking, celebrated baptisms, rejoiced with bloggy friends and decided not to take a risk.
I went on holiday in July, I took photos and decided that life is for telling, that life is poetry and that I am rather difficult. In that summer of Urgh, Jeff Goins wrecked me, my cousin died, I rediscovered my perfectionist tendencies. I was only halfway here, I stretched, I flew halfway to heaven, I watched the leaves change. I went to mission in Liverpool and realised the sacrifice my Mum had made.
September was a manic blur of crying in a school corridor, discovering mercy, imagining Paul in prison. I walked through the wardrobe into Twitter, became an honorary introvert, grasped, watched people from my window, refocused, danced like Mary, sat halfway up the stairs and wondered how you know you’re called.
Tuesdays were for honesty and we launched the God and Suffering series:
Natalie was in a hospital, clinging on to God; Kath searched for God in depression; Penelope was frozen, processing trauma; Ed was alone; Alastair stopped treating God like wallpaper; Joy’s faith was sandblasted. Emma became the girl who said yes, Nick learnt about fatherhood, Alice chose suffering, Addie said to ask someone else. Shelly travelled to Rwanda, Micha just breathed, Dave carried on running, Emily stopped fearing. I read all these testimonies and treasured them up in my heart.
In October I thought about Paul in Athens, and eating pigswill. I wrote about the concrete words of book and horse. I ran faster, I travelled without knowing it into a foreign country and confessed to having a troubled marriage and being no prayer warrior. In November I put down roots, I waded reluctantly into the Women Bishops debate, wrestled with spiritual love languages, realised God might love me and snuggled in a cold cathedral. I decorated my Christmas tree and mourned with Newtown, Connecticut. Then I stepped into Advent thoughts on waiting, homelessness, groaning and that great and glorious day of Jesus’ arrival.
It’s been quite a journey. Thanks for doing it with me.
(here are those questions again):