In college, as that slippery major declaration alluded me, I was able to opt for some interesting electives. One in particular stands out above the rest. It seemed like an intriguing and risky choice.
Creative Writing was not my natural forte. Most of the class consisted of everyone sitting in a circle and taking turns pot-shotting or praising another’s work. Besides my speech class, this circle of “constructive criticism” was one of the more terrifying classroom experiences of my college career. Turns out, my original works of fiction were altogether unoriginal. My haikus were too “overt.” My short stories were too “incohesive.” Most of the class did find my poems amusing though, if only because of their twisted nature.
To my defense, unlike most of my college classmates, I never was big fan of fiction literature. The scope of my repertoire included RL Stine’s “Goosebumps” in elementary school , and a healthy dose of Michael Crichton and Stephen King in middle school. After that, my passion for fiction waned. In high school, I only read works like “The Great Gatsby” and “Huckleberry Finn” because it was required, not for the sheer pleasure of it. This is not an indictment against my English teachers, but reading a few classics is the only thing I really remember about English classes. The technicalities of grammar and syntax were never a priority to me. As a result, I now probably couldn’t diagram a sentence if my life depended on it. The seven parts of speech also remain cloaked in an illusive fog of unknowing.
To exacerbate the issue, my mom recently (and gently) informed me of my constant confusion of”its” and “it’s” in my writing. Must have slept through that portion of class.
I highlight these experiences to bring up this point. There are many reasons I maintain a blog, but one important reason is to keep me accountable, sharp, and, indirectly, humble. Publishing a post is a bit like subjecting oneself to a circle of constructive criticism. And while I enjoy every encouragement I get, I know I need every careful rebuke maybe even more. In many cases I’ve gotten a response from a lone search engine peruser who leaves much for me to chew on and gives perspective on matters I’d never have even considered. As far as I know most of them never even return, but I still have gained insight from their stated view even when I completely disagree with it.
Sometimes when publicly wrestling with difficult theological issues I’m sure my writing can sometimes be too snarky, sloppy or dismissive. Like a Southwest Airlines mechanic, sometimes a few loose screws and bolts need to be tightened down in my opinions. In those cases, I appreciate a little friendly opposition. Because, “better are the wounds of a friend than the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)
When I bristle at constructive criticism that only reveals the remnants of the old nature that still lie latent me. As the first couple was ashamed at their nakedness, I can be ashamed of being proven wrong or not being validated by my peers in every way. What really is at work is a prideful disposition that rises up from the heart with this snooty protest: How dare someone think differently than me!
So I’ll say what sometimes is impossibly hard for me to admit: Thank God people think differently than me. This life would otherwise be incredibly boring and uninspired. And my Creative Writing skills would remain plain awful, other than just moderately awful.
P.S. Please leave me an encouraging comment. Any and all disparaging marks will be moderated and swiftly deleted from my blog queue.