We had a series at my church where the pastor interjected the word ‘naked’ into every message, even instructing us to repeat after him and say, ‘naked!’. It was entertaining. It also made me more comfortable to say and write the word naked within an ecclesiastical context. Thus having written it three times in as many sentences I’ll move on to the subject of today’s post, an encouragement to aspiring writers like myself: Write naked.
Note, I do not say write in the nude, in the buff or nekid, but if that helps your writer’s block, then go to. I say write naked. If you’re giggling write now, that’s good, it will make the remainder easier to digest.
Writing for me is a calling, one I’ve sought to escape for more years than I’ve done it. 2013 is my year of stepping into my calling; I seek to walk into it rather than walk out of it. If you are as stubborn and cowardly as I often can be, please, for the sake of yourself and Christ’s purposes in this world, be humble, be yourself, and stop being a coward. As Nike might say, just do it. Revelation 21:8 is enough encouragement for me—look who doesn’t make it, first in the line. Check it out for yourself. Forgive the digression—write naked.
Writers are instructed to talk only from what they’ve experienced; pastors are told to preach similarly. I understand that, but wonder how true it is. Science fiction and fantasy writers create marvelous surreal worlds that capture our imagination and entertain us thoroughly, but they cannot have experienced it. Dickinson was a hermit who wrote beautiful poetry of experiences she didn’t have. Christians have written beautifully of Jesus, yet they did not walk with him in the flesh. Most poetry is to love, one of the most elusive concepts and ethereal experiences we have as people. Experience is only one path to knowledge, the other is revelation.
Paul echoes Psalms and other parts of the Bible when he tells the Romans that God’s eternal qualities are on full display in creation. We are meant to perceive and grasp this divine spark, so if we know nothing else, we know something of God. This is revelation. We are part of that creation and God’s mind, will, emotions, personality are also on full display within us, clouded and corrupted as that image is by the crack of evil that runs through us all. We veil this spark, shielding it from others, even from ourselves. Writing has often been my attempt to unveil the unique expression of God I was made to manifest.
Jesus said that we speak out of what is within us. I wonder if what is in the soul is greater than the sum of its experiences. I also wonder about what I allow to shade the light of God within me. I am finding that only brutal, naked honesty from deep inside the soul is what makes any writing good, worthy, readable.
The experience, then, of writing naked is difficult because it runs contrary to the human impulse and our 21st century culture. Souls are meant to be naked; that’s how we were created. But we live in an age of naked souls seeking relevance and validity from man, not God. We are Januses and chameleons—we put on a different face for different people, or completely change based on who we are with. Or we go the full monty and ensconce ourselves into a fortified place, critiquing, hating, berating anyone different from us, not realizing we just doing it to stay part of the clique we’ve put a face on for. These fig leaves are the norm for us because though we desire naked intimacy, we fear exposure. This is my own battle of the blog.
When I post I obsess over new views, visitors, site stats. I look and hope for comments. I feel a twinge of fear, wondering ‘Who’s going to read it?’, ‘What will they think?’, ‘Was I too honest or too harsh?’ I wonder who will see this and say ‘Oh look he’s blogging about blogging—how meta.’
I never obsess about how and when God my Father views me. I don’t seek his visits to ask how my heart is doing. I don’t diligently track my encounters with the Father. I don’t ask enough times, ‘My Father, are you proud of me? What do you think of me? What did you think of what I wrote?’ My soul is naked always to him, and only he knows the true depths of my soul. My Father knows what I don’t know is in my soul. It is laid bare before him, for him to judge its contents and its expression. He is always there and cares about the honest, brutal expression of my soul far more than any one or 7 billion people can.
I am learning to be a writer, and I certainly don’t have it figured out. I am seeing, however, that beautiful truth comes out of the honest, full expression of a person’s soul, which is far greater than the sum of their experiences. Our souls are meant to be naked, but they will never be truly so when we are writing to satisfy the world. I will write because only the naked honesty of my soul will bring my unique expression of God into the world. I also have to be in relationship with Him through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, who removes the veil so the full brilliant expression of God is revealed. I have to, you have to, because all of creation is desperately waiting to be freed by the naked expression of our souls. Our Father is also waiting to read what you’ve written. Let’s go write. Naked.