Recently someone I had deeply respected told me I had “no docility” in regards to my writings. Perhaps there is some element of truth in that statement, I do not know. Without going into detail I will say though that the statement devastated me. It was said to me in regards to an article I had written, which this person felt needed to be significantly re-written. And I do mean significantly. When I chose not to do so what had, until then, been what seemed to be a warm and gregarious working relationship turned sour and instantly. And although I did not change that particular piece, I then found I needed to step back, prayerfully, and take time away from writing, so that is why you have not heard from me in awhile (nearly 2 months) either here or anywhere else for that matter, with the exception of my personal Face Book page that is.
I also had another experience just this last week where I nonchalantly shared a link to my re-conversion story to another FB ‘friend,” a term by the way I use more and more loosely these days. The person I shared it with was someone who I invited to be part of my FB page, and I had added him due to so many of the wonderful posts he had written. What I am about to say takes nothing away from that. But I realized he probably did not know my story, and so I wanted to share it with him, nothing more or less. What I did not realize when I added him was that he was highly involved in fairly major areas of the arts and cinematic arenas, and somewhat well-connected in the Catholic realms of those circles. I suppose, looking back, that it might have seemed to this person that I was attempting to do some self-promoting as a result, which I was not in the least. I had no idea of his pedigrees nor did I care when I added him. Not at all.
The irony is that the person said to me that he was “riveted” by my story and that he planned, the next day at a conference he was involved with, to speak to some of his connections about it. That floored me obviously but I was flattered of course, and egotistically waited all week to hear back from him about how those conversations had gone. I wrote a short note to him a few days later, nothing pushy but just asking, to see how they had indeed transpired, but heard nothing back, even though I could see he had read my note to him, as FB now graciously shows you when your message has been read. So I wrote another note tonight. I sincerely realize that this person is busy to the extreme, and I in fact was not asking him to do anything in the first place–he had volunteered. But I still wanted to know the status, and wrote politely once again just to ask and to get his feedback, since it had been nearly a week now after he had stated he would be making those contacts, which were to be during the weekend before.
His answer to me floored and shocked me very honestly. He said (I am paraphrasing here but this is the gist) that he simply “didn’t have time” to read everything people sent to him, and that he had someone waiting in the wings for him to read their 70 page story as well so basically to “get in line.” I was hurt by such an answer, since my article is 3 pages type-written and since he, not me, had initially reacted with such enthusiasm and unsolicited promises after he had first glanced at it last week. I wrote him back, possibly a bit less politely this time but suggested he not bother wasting his time if that is what it had seemed to him. I very honestly did not send it to him for some type of script review, and as I said it was he, not me, that had suggested the story be promoted more, which he had more or less promised to do. And that I have in writing.
Here is what I am realizing by such experiences, even within the Catholic Christian world. My story, not by my plan but surely by God’s, has already now been promoted by others in such a way that it has been checked out by at least 150,000 people currently, and most of them have been in the last 6 months or so. I was further approached to write a separate article related to the topics at hand for Witherspoon Institute’s “Public Discourse” and it was then listed by them as one of their most popular pieces in the last 6 months. Additionally, I have on occasion shared articles which have been listed and linked to in a very fine blog periodical monthly magazine by the name of “Catholic Stand,” and have had at least 20 mentions of my work in EWTN’s Catholic Register newspaper, online edition. That is not bragging, as it is as much a surprise to me as to anyone. All of the above have been unexpected honors, and I view them as such, believe me.
As it turns out, I do actually know how to write. I did not ask for this gift and I am sure I do not know how to use it as well as I need to. As to “docility” I can always use honest and constructive criticism (which in my humble opinion does not necessitate entire re-writes of essays I have spent hours working on, especially given that I am nearly 60 years of age, have a very, very demanding full-time job and a 2nd one as well, plus several major health issues which drain my strength daily or nearly so), and I do actually listen when someone suggests a change in grammar or tone on a particular paragraph or sentence in my work.
But, as my friend Brandon M says, I write for “me.” I have never written with the intent of sharing my work in the first place, and the fact that so many have actually read it in such varied and numerous venues still floors me continually. I cannot allow it to take me over, however. When blogging becomes more than relaxing and fun then it is time for me to step back and realize that, ego or not, I am not, and most likely never will be, a “professional” writer. Then again that has never been my goal and I am not going to go there now either. My style is my style, and apparently works far better than I ever dreamed it might. To those who do not care for it, I owe no apologies. Don’t read it. By saying that I am not asking anyone to leave my audience either. Not at all. I am simply saying that there is no obligation. Ask my family, pretty much none of them read my stuff, or if they do they are very, very quiet about it, particularly as I have become more conservative and traditional over the last few years. And that is okay. I might wish that they did but it does not affect my relationships with them, nor should I allow it to.
And to those, such as in the second example, who make seeming promises that they cannot keep, I would prefer that they just say so outright as opposed to total silence and I will honestly understand. I might not like it but I would. No one owes me here. But please in any case do not attempt to remodel me into your style. And do not expect me to follow the “blogging world” politics which I do not choose to understand. It will not be happening. If that makes me less “docile” in your view, then so be it. Then again, maybe it is not my problem after all. Sometimes those who say such nonsense have been caught up into a system of human-made expectations that I choose to be free from. At least respect me for that. And do not assume, if I honor you by personally sending my story to you, that I want anything from you either. I honestly do not. I choose to share for two reasons only, and one is that I believe in some small way God can use my very imperfect writing skills, and two, I like and enjoy sharing with those who wish to listen or read, and particularly if I respect the person I am sharing it with. If you do not wish to read it, as I have already said, don’t. But do not act like you are some big-time Hollywood mogul who is politely rejecting a manuscript of some kind during your response. In doing so you insult my intelligence and, more so, my character and offer of friendship. I am not that person and pray I never will be. “Docility” can indeed be overrated.