Monday

Why I Write

This is the "Statement of Purpose" I wrote for my application to The New School. I didn't let anyone read it before I sent it in, which would seem crazy if I hadn't been accepted. It is partially a sales pitch for myself, but mostly about why I feel compelled to write.


Throughout much of high school and college I believed that God was calling me to become an Episcopal priest. Unresolved doubt ended that, but I’ve realized since that what I really wanted to do was preach. My father took notes and improvised the rest, but I wanted to write mine out word for word: a carefully placed joke here, an intentional but subtle juxtaposition of ideas here, another joke here. And here.

Though my sense of calling has changed, my desire to express myself has not. Today, in addition to the occasional essay for a church publication or a grant for my job, I write a personal blog, write a reader blog for the Houston Chronicle religion website , and edit a national zine my brother and I created called Episcorific for young Episcopalians (episcorific.org). These allow me to take my experience and connect it to our common experience, to turn ideas inside out, to categorize the world or jumble it up until it is once again mysterious.

I started by personal blog as a means of self expression, but it took me six months to tell anyone about it. I was mostly afraid to tell my girlfriend, who is a fierce critic. I have since developed my voice as a writer, and just enough ego to put my work into other’s hands - including my now-ex girlfriend - so that they can tear it apart and help me put the pieces back together. I have come to love this process, always painful and almost always rewarding. I hope to continue improving my writing in the New School’s creative writing program. I know I have blind spots and areas that need improving, such as my ability to edit my work. I love to read, but there are gaps in my reading that are difficult to identify myself. I do not know that I can take the next step in my career as a writer without the help of a program and those who are as compelled to write as I am.

Perhaps what drives me to write is not a call from God, nor my suppressed exhibitionism, but the compassion that drew me to the priesthood. Compassion, it seems to me, is some mix of love and understanding, a desire to see others clearly and put the truth of the world into words. Compassion also led me to the Gulf Region Advocacy Center, or GRACE, where I work now as Director of Development. GRACE provides legal defense for the indigent who have been charged with capital crime in Texas, saving many from execution by the state. And while my work has always been meaningful and I will be an advocate for GRACE after I leave, my work there is not my calling. The words of Paul in his letter to the Romans – for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate – have never seemed more appropriate than when I am sorting receipts at midnight so that I can send out an invoice. Of course, Paul was writing about sin, but part of me that knows that when I am not writing, I am sinning.

1 comment:

Caedmon's Hymn said...

I had/have forgotten why I write...why I love writing. I sincerely pray you find that peace in the very thing you love.