for when the noise drowns you out and you make an idol of your writing [again]

Written by Nacole Simmons

I'm a non-conformist, fashion-loving southern mom of four girls, wife to one good, steady, car-building man, Jesus-follower, grace-seeker, poet-at-heart who adores nature. I'm a homebody and love spending weekends with my family either in our backyard reading books in the hammock, gardening, or in the country riding horses and roasting marshmallows over a campfire under a starry sky. I'm honest to a fault, and love writing the brave things & speaking straight to the elephant in a room because I can't do small talk.

June 26, 2013

writer, writing

“I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.”–Mother Theresa

I can get so lost in how low the number of readers are or so preoccupied with my own worries and fears–you know the ones–

What would this side think of my writing, what would folks of this belief think, what if I lose readers if I write what I really feel, can I be vulnerable, how honest should I be, and one of the worst questions that plagues my mind at times: What is the point of writing when there are so many more that say it better and reach many more than I do?

And then I think this writing thing of mine will never go anywhere. I get disappointed, an unhealthy self-pity and hedonism sets in, and then anger holds my heart in its tight grip. In searching for myself and my happiness as a writer, as an artist, and co-creator with God, I forget the God that imparts the poetry and breathes life into my weary bones. I start to think it’s all about me.

And then, suddenly, like a slow dawning, an awakening, my eyes are opened, and I see myself thinking about myself too much–in one flash of a moment, my mind is completely clear, I have His mind, and I can see myself through his lens.

I have wrestled with this writing thing, oh, how I’ve wrestled. There were entire days I just stayed in my pajamas, barely ate, and wasn’t present with my kids because I was so engrossed in my writing, and I was steeped in unhealthy habits that had been rutted out during three years of ill health.

I felt so guilty for my need to create, to have something of my own, and I’ve struggled to find balance between the nurture of art and relationship. I’ve felt at times that God’s greatest calling for me was raising my girls and oh yes, it is, and who will be there for them if not I? But then, my heart screams back, why did God make me with this wild desire to create?

A young woman at a retreat a couple of months ago asked me why I started writing, started blogging. My tongue got heavy in my mouth and in slow-motion, I said to her, “I don’t really know, is the real answer” I went on to tell her who and what had inspired me, but the true thing about it all, was, I really didn’t know, and I still don’t.

I wrote a couple of pretty good posts after that, and people related well and they got way more attention than I possibly ever thought, and I was grateful.

But then the tide changed. I began to notice more and more debates and writers taking heat and backlash, and I wondered what people thought of my stance, and I stayed quiet and I hid in the safety of my fun concrete writing adventures. And then summer happened, and my kids needed me because we are transitioning from homeschooling to public school, and I got weary and just stopped writing.

I wrote this to a friend: How do we continue to write when there is so much hate volleying back and forth, so much arguing and venom spewing? How do we hold to truth and clean and clear our minds in the midst of the everyday duties of life? Because for some of us, just that is enough to struggle through. I have found myself reaching for creativity, for words, the noise suffocating. It’s out of my grasp. Let us be about the main thing. I don’t want to be dragged into a current of negative til I drown and can no longer see Christ. And it’s oh so tempting sometimes to jump into the current. 

I still get too engrossed in my writing at times and it gets to the point I can’t sleep, can’t think straight, because of all the noise, all the constant engaging online and not enough in my real life.

At that point, I step away from the computer, almost with an utter disgust that I let myself stray so far, and I am once again able to breathe, let the sun warm my face, and I can relax and sleep in peace.

There have been moments I’ve seen others having so much success, and they seem to have such a great rhythm, and they seem to understand the process, and the flow. And I’m over here flailing about, making huge waves, trying to convince myself and everyone else I’m drowning.

Those moments when others are moving on and I’m small and left behind are hard, but I’ve received grace from Father’s hand, and I now know how to love, so I open the hand, that was once a tightly closed fist, and I release gladness and generosity and joy and esteem and affection and loyalty, devotion, passion, and respect, and I lay down the idol of self.

And this is Gospel, when grace has me tickled to watch my friends live my dream.

There is this: the realization after stepping away from things and holding yourself back from your art for a while, even in the name of very good reasons–that it’s your purpose to create, in marrow and bone, down in the very core of DNA, and this purpose goes way back in the roots of my family tree. And maybe there is nothing to be done about it. I will keep being driven to create by the Divine, and when I stray, He will bring me back to His wings, and out of that covering I will learn to be my truest self and to write gospel truth, to preach what some may not want to hear.

I’ll never know if my truth preached is exactly correct. I will learn. I will grow. I recall a friend of mine saying in a certain fireside conversation that she hopes she isn’t still writing the same things in ten years, she hopes that she’s grown enough to look back on her archives, and think Really?! That’s what I felt and believed, I really wrote that?! 

So I take my wise friend’s words to heart, and I will keep forging ahead, writing exactly from where I am.

I’m a scandalously messy daughter of grace, and He is a scandalously loving God. And there’s nothing to do about it, but just be.

18 Comments

  1. Diane Bailey

    Nacole, I think, that went we crate a voice for the public to read, there is an ebb and flow, like contractions in child birth of traffic and commets from those reading our crafted words. When we feel the most pressure, is when the most progress is begin achieved for the Kingdom of God. And when it is quiet, as it is for me too right now, perhaps is it God Wiping our brow and saying, “Breathe”. This is a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Nacole Simmons

      *Thank you* for your support, friend. I feel it. Yes, that resonates with me–“God wiping our brow and saying “breathe”. Oh yes, love that.

      Reply
  2. Elizabeth Marshall

    Nacole, this is utterly beautiful. Your words here sound like music. And I am listening and letting the notes seep into my soul. Thank you for this. You are loved and lovely.

    Reply
    • Nacole Simmons

      Oh dear Elizabeth, *you* are lovely, and I’m grateful to call you friend. How you’ve championed me and what is more priceless than the faithfulness of a friend? That you said it sounds like music? Nothing could be more like music to my ears than hearing that from you, the poet. xo.

      Reply
  3. Amanda Johnston Hill

    don’t ever lose your beautiful heart!!

    Reply
    • Nacole Simmons

      *you*. You’re awesome. You’re my editing-ninja-coolest-Texan-ever- friend. xo.

      Reply
  4. Vickie Shaver

    Nacole, I just love your heart. Your transparency and honesty are refreshing. I have been here too. Questioning the job God has given me to write His words in a way that isn’t always popular, that won’t get the same attention as others. I needed this today. A question of my motives. A refocusing. A worshipful response to the Creator who longs to create through us, sometimes despite us. 🙂 I love you, sister! So blessed to have met you and walk alongside you in this online world. Keep putting those beautiful fingers to the keyboard my friend. He creates through you! He shines bright and it’s captivating. Be encouraged.

    Reply
    • Nacole Simmons

      Oh, Vickie, you’re so special. *Thank you* for this much needed encouragement. I’m so glad if possibly my honesty about my struggle resonates with someone.

      Reply
  5. Shelly Miller

    I felt like God asked me recently, “What would you do if perception (the perceptions of others) wasn’t in the equation and you trusted that I love you for exactly who you are?” Freedom was the word that came to me. I would be free in a way I hadn’t thought of before. Your post reminded me of that. Your honesty is a gift.

    Reply
    • Nacole Simmons

      That made me exhale so deep, my friend, yes, freedom. I like that. Thank you for your kind, thoughtful words here, Shelly, and I can breathe relief that my “honesty is a gift”. I don’t know if more powerful words have been spoken.

      Reply
  6. Deborah

    This is the first post I have read since signing up for Bibledude.
    And I can so connect with your thoughts here.
    You have touched my heart.
    BTW ~ I’, pretty “Scandalously messy” as well.

    Reply
    • Nacole Simmons

      Aww, Deborah, I’m so honored, truly. So happy your heart found connection with what I wrote. I’m amazed at God. Yes, scandalously messy and saved by a radically loving God.

      Reply
  7. Eileen

    “I will keep forging ahead, writing exactly from where I am.” Love this. That’s where God always brings me back to.

    Reply
    • Nacole Simmons

      That is all we can do, Eileen, yes? It makes me see my need for Him–I keep coming back to it over and over again also. Thank you for your words here.

      Reply
  8. Karin Deaver

    I have been struggling with this too. This week I have had nothing to write and I find myself asking again, “What’s the point?” If my writing comes from where I am at, and I’m at a really messy place, it begins to feel like I have nothing to say that won’t sound like a low budget movie with a downer of a plot stuck on repeat. It’s at that point I am beginning to realize I have to take a pause and live a few moments and let God breathe into my plot for a few days (or weeks?) before I can possibly have anything to say. One thing I have found that stretches me in these moments is the prompted writings because it seems the Lord gets me to lift my eyes beyond my horizon occasionally when I have a prompt to try to address. It also helps to limit my reading to familiar writers and as I soak in a smaller community of posts so that I don’t get overwhelmed with the volume of voices out there. That’s how I am figuring out how to survive this blog universe.

    Reply
    • Nacole Simmons

      Oh yes, Karin, to everything you said. I struggle with the same things–I think, for writers, the dynamic is generally alike in so many ways. I love the prompts, too–and it’s important to open ourselves up to the possibility of joy in creating, but I was also hiding behind the prompts, and wasn’t writing what was really on my heart to say, and that is never a good place to be. Amber Haines admitted once on her blog, that she knew God wanted her to say some things, and instead, she posted a music video and some fun, random things. We all deal with fear. Thank you for being so honest here, Karin. (and I’m honored to have you at Concrete Words and reading along here).

      Reply
  9. smoothstones

    When I start feeling small, I remember that–outside–of this sphere, even the biggest are small. Do you understand what I mean? Sling big, blogger names at people in your everyday life; they’ll tip their heads and give you the confused puppy dog look. Sling author names at people who don’t read much. Sling tv star names at people who don’t watch much tv. And realize that–even the most well-known person above us will die and be unknown in 100 years. It doesn’t have to be depressing. Live your life. Impact those whom the Lord sets in front of you.

    Reply
  10. Claire Florine

    Nacole, I have many of these same thoughts about writing, and I encourage you in this post. Last summer I experienced a lot of backlash and attacks on my more “gutsy” posts. I was so upset I thought about shutting my blog down (no one really reads it anyway, I thought). Like you, I needed a break for God to redefine who I was truly writing for and why. I myself am encouraged by your beautiful words in this post. Thank you for being so vulnerable and putting yourself out there as a writer for Christ. He will always guide you.

    Reply

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for when the noise drowns you out and you make an idol of your writing [again]

by Nacole Simmons time to read: 5 min
18