How the “magic” happens

Don’t let the sheer quantity here deceive you. I am not a writer.

I mean, I write. It’s not that I’m illiterately dictating to people with laptops who encircle me. I write a lot, for work, in emails that are generally boring and longer than necessary. Not unlike here.

But I have friends who are writers, gifted and often tortured souls that consider writing their craft and vocation, devoted wordsmiths who commit themselves to so many hours or words per day in pursuit of excellence. All of that is foreign to me.

Here is how these things on this website appear.

I pour a glass of wine. I go to my room and pray, listening to music that touches my soul and following ancient Catholic routines before a wall of crosses. And then usually I read something, or just dwell on something I read or saw or experienced earlier in the week.

And sometimes words come out. Sometimes, they don’t.

Stylistically, I tend to follow what I artfully call a ”dump and chase” method. An image or line or phrase, usually off-centered or odd, comes to me as a crystallizing point, which I lead with. Then I back up and give the context of how I got to that image, and then I end when I’ve circled back to that image. Sometimes it’s a Thomistically straight line. Sometimes it’s a Jeffy-in-The-Family-Circus-Cartoon mess of criss-crossed thoughts that could have been put out much more elegantly.

But it all depends on how it comes to me, of which I disclaim any control.

There have been times that I have tried to write a piece, usually to fit into a series I laid out in my head, despite the lack of inspiration from beyond. If you look, you can tell which ones they are (I can, anyway), because they suck. They lack energy. They are going through the motions. The truth is, I’ve tried TWICE to write on the first 9 chapters or so of the Gospel of Matthew, and for reasons I can’t explain, I haven’t received anything worth sharing there. They’re good chapters, regardless. But the point is, I am not in control.

I also re-read my stuff very, very rarely. Usually, only in the context of ”did I already write about this?” questioning do I go back to review what I’ve written. You probably know this; my friend Steve Schale writes in a different setting, but I’m pretty sure he’s also a ”one-and-done” kind of guy, because I see typos that make me cringe in his otherwise exceptional writing. I have no doubt that you have seen the same here. Apologies. I’m trying to build the habit of at least reading through my stuff once before I post, just to catch the most egregious errors. But I’m also bad at building good habits like that.

So when I hear people talk about writing a book, and the labor and discipline they put into it, I think it would be an insult to presume that I could tread on that ground. I am like the Mozart character in Amadeus, but without the otherworldly talent and with a tad more self awareness. Like him, I am unserious enough to be an insult to those who have dedicated themselves to this craft. Unlike him, I am sensitive to that insult, and unlike him, I lack real gifts. I’m just along for the ride with the rest of you.

But if any of the things that speak to me in my ”God dates” speak to you, I’m grateful to be the one to pass those things along. Just know that they aren’t mine, really. I’m just pointing out where God showed up in my evening. Usually with typos.

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