I recently chewed on the following question from someone:
“If you knew no one would ever read what you write, would you:
Not write at all
Write a bit less
Write a lot more?”
I don’t really know how to answer this. I do know that the first option – not writing at all – is really no option for me at all. I have loved writing almost as long as I can remember and my brain just thinks in terms of narrative and analogy and phrasing.
Poetry was my first love. An elementary school assignment helped me discover that rhyming came easy for me. I composed my first verses about the game of softball. A ballad along the lines of “Casey at the Bat”. At 9 years old, it’s what I knew. And I still have it if you ever need a giggle. In middle school, I wrote about what I longed to know – middle school boys. My poems dripped with the weird feelings and angsty emotions I couldn’t really understand. Impressed by my talents, my girlfriends even requested I write poems for them about the boys THEY liked. I usually obliged. I penned a few about my growing devotion for God, too. But at the risk of sounding falsely righteous, unrequited love remained my favorite topic.
I joined the Creative Writing Club in high school (What? It was cool…ish) and enjoyed assignments for English and Literature classes. Until my senior year when my Honors English teacher tried to wring every ounce of creative zeal out of my body and leave me out to dry. I know that sounds dramatic, but I don’t say it lightly. Both of my parents taught public school in the same district I attended. They frowned upon complaining about teachers, but sided with me on this one. After a year of harsh critique and criticism, I burned out and took a break from pen wielding while enjoying all college had to offer (a little too much) and falling in love with my husband.
I got pregnant with Shelby during the first year of our marriage and kept a pregnancy journal for her. During those months, jotting down what I experienced and felt for her reignited my passion for words. So passionate was I, in fact, about that notebook that I frightened my poor husband to death with a wailing phone call after our new puppy chewed it up. What can I say? Pregnancy hormones.
As we made plans for me to stay home and care for our first child, we looked for ways to cut costs. The relatively new, exciting and slow (remember dial-up?) internet offered me a job writing online devotionals for a Christian website. Unfortunately, these folks were a little ahead of their time. Not many people did their reading digitally in the year 2000 and the money ran out quickly. But my first paycheck was the exact amount I owed my OB/GYN after taxes for delivering my baby. Only God.
When we moved to the big city for Shelby’s medical care, a new church family blessed me by using my gift for articles and newsletters in the Women’s Ministry. A few years later, a charitable organization offered us the opportunity to fund raise for research to benefit Dravet Syndrome in Shelby’s name. I birthed a blog to help with those efforts called “Shelby’s Fast Feet”. I wrote about her and this disorder and life as a special needs mom. That blog became “The Sparks Notes” as I continued to write about Shelby but also felt called to share other details of my life and the ways God moves in it. And now I continue to write about Jesus and family and friends and all the things here at laurensparks.net.
Several of you kind friends have asked me how I’m progressing with my latest passion project – writing a book. The simple answer is…slow. I let this frustrate me initially, but I refuse to allow it that power anymore. The truth is I am a mom and a wife with 2 part time jobs. And right now writing has to fit around the edges of all that. And I’m writing about friendship. So I’m not going to pass on the opportunity to share in fellowship and community with someone else so I can sit at the keyboard. That defeats the purpose of the message I believe God is whispering through me. And you know what? The more time I spend with the material and the more time I spend with the real people, the more He opens my eyes to the incompleteness of the lessons He continues to teach me on community.Ephesians 4:1 Paul says, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” So I keep living, and seeking and loving and typing, while waiting expectantly for the end result, which may be much different than the book I initially flushed out.
In the mean time, I write here, knowing that as long as I write to tell other’s about the love of Jesus, I walk in obedience to the call on my life. So for those of you sweet enough to still be reading, stay tuned. And if you want to grab coffee or lunch, I’m your girl. Research, you know 😉