I love to write! I would write all day long if I could; it fills my heart with such joy. I like to write everything: novels, poetry, songs, blogs…. I even love the idea of writing; grammar and sentence structure are exciting to me! Do you think I am crazy? I suppose no one will ever fully understand why the written word is my first love. Only I can know the joy of writing and what it means to me.
I don’t know if you noticed, but in the above paragraph, I tried to use every form of punctuation I could think of to incorporate into the text. I have a point to my ramblings, and interestingly, it really doesn’t have anything to do with my love of writing; however, it has everything to do with what writing has inspired in my life.
When I was getting ready to publish my first book, I found out just how challenging the editing process was going to be. I was at odds with my editor sometimes; I was fairly certain she was against my use of the semi-colon. I argued that my use of the punctuation mark was literary in nature. Why end a sentence with a period when you can prolong the thought process with two sentences seemingly combined into one?
We argued over the use of the semi-colon as we worked through each sentence. I won some of the battles but I definitely didn’t win the war. By the time my book went to print, several of my semi-colons were dead and gone along with a few of my characters. There was a certain finality in sending in that final manuscript draft. I could no longer make any changes. The story was set in stone, and any grammatical errors that existed would simply have to remain in place. I was relieved to see the process come to an end but nervous at the same time.
Recently, I thought about that pivotal moment in my writing career. A similar scenario played out when I released all three of my books. As I sent each one to the publisher, I would come to the dizzying realization that there was no turning back. The book was going to print and it was final. Period.
Sometimes, the situations we face in life can mirror punctuation marks. Sometimes, a season will come to an abrupt and dramatic end— as if to be finalized with an exclamation mark. Other times, a comma may be in place— a brief pause as you take the time to contemplate your next steps in life’s journey. Other times, the period comes into play. A job, a relationship, or some other activity comes to an end and you are left to consider the next sentence or phase of your life. And then maybe the semi-colon comes in; perhaps one phase of life bleeds into another.
This symbolic semi-colon existed for me as I wrote all of my books. At the same time, I was writing and performing my music, volunteering at my church, obtaining my Masters’ degree, and participating in a voluntary internship. All of these commitments co-existed for me, and oftentimes my tasks would blend together in a strange kind of multi-tasking. In terms of writing and grammar, it would probably read like one long, run-on sentence.
But then I traveled to Nashville, and that’s when it happened. The sentence came to an end with a period— at least where one of my endeavors was concerned. Although I would continue to sing and write music, my time of seeking out performance opportunities and concerts had come to an end. There was no exclamation mark in place here, because when God spoke to my heart, it was a gentle realization. It was just over. Period.
I continued in many of my endeavors, but like my time in Nashville, I found I couldn’t sustain everything. My voluntary internship ended like this— the dash creating a sudden shift. I wasn’t expecting to walk out the door, but I did, and although the change was sudden, I didn’t regret my decision. Then I graduated with my Masters degree, and that definitely held an exclamation mark! I had managed to endure two long years of intense study, and it all resulted in being hired as Worship and Music Director at FRC! It was an exciting time in my life!
For every phase in my life, a symbolic punctuation mark has excited. But in my current phase, I’m not quite sure what is taking place. In one sense I feel as if I am on pause, the comma dictating my suddenly quiet existence. There isn’t a lot on my horizon though, so then I wonder if it is more than a comma’s pause— more of an ellipses of sorts. In some ways, it’s like I’m waiting on the edge for whatever is on the other side of those three little dots…. what might be coming….
When I left camp, my intellectual side (my head) wanted a clean break. A clear stopping point (the period) was definitely needed here. But my emotions (my heart) wanted to install the semi-colon or ellipses. I still valued the relationships I had developed, and I couldn’t see myself just leaving without a clear plan for continuing to make an investment in this area. But in a way, I knew that I had to find a compromise between the head and the heart. My time at camp had come to an end, but my friendships could carry me into the future as long as I kept myself distant from what was taking place at camp.
At some point, I want to be able to look back and consider my conclusion at camp a clear exclamation point— a resounding positive expression of the time and effort I put into making YLF all it could be even within my limited experience. But right now, it looks a lot like this; it’s a lot like two sentences, joined by my beloved semi-colon. I have gone on my way, but a piece of my heart still remains with the organization I still love dearly. It’s hard to say when I will take the time to edit and replace that semi-colon with a period or exclamation point, but some day I will know with certainty how the story will end.
Until then, stay tuned…