“Blogging is not writing. It’s just graffiti with punctuation.” – Contagion.
I confess to some ambivalence about blogging today. I confess that I am not entirely convinced that what I’m doing at Paperback Theology is making the world a better place. I think this is a very normal thought to consider, and I bet most people ask these questions about their chosen profession. It’s a healthy thing to ask.
The first time I ever wrote a song that I really cared about I was 25 years old. It was called Equal to the Fall. Before that most of the writing that I had done was an attempt to carve out a space in the world in which I could live… an Enneagram three doing what we do. But this song was different. I wanted it to matter to others the way it mattered to me. I was passionate about it. I shared it with everyone I could. I spent every dime I had and went into debt getting a demo of it made. That song got my band a record deal, it opened doors that I’m still walking through. Nearly 1000 shows as a band, bunches of radio hits, playing for hundreds of thousands of people, touring all over the country… that song was big for me.
I confess that I have always regretted the way we produced Equal to the Fall. I really don’t like it at all. To this day I can hardly listen to the song. The song was written on piano, it was a piano driven song – that’s where the musical hook was and all of the energy – the soul of the song. I let the producers talk me out of keeping the piano part on the final mix. It was a mistake.
I confess that I think my problem was that I didn’t know who I was as a songwriter and performer. I felt like I was cut from the Rich Mullins cloth, they wanted me to be cut out of the Tom Petty cloth, so that’s the way we went. It was a fun direction, but I’m not sure that at the time, it was really me. Rock and roll is pretty fun, so I can’t complain, but I do always wonder what would have happened with music if I would have done the heavy soul-searching, figured out who I really was and then stuck to my guns. Every young artist needs production help and somebody to give them a cohesive sound. I’m grateful to folks like Paul Ebersold and Skidd Mills who did that for me, but it would have been much more productive if I would have found my musical center before we put that record out. In the end, I think they were right. Rock & roll was probably the right place (not adult contemporary stuff like Rich did), but I was not able to really own in at the time.
Here’s my confession. Just as I had to go through years of figuring out who I was musically, I think that I’m still trying to do the same thing with my writing. For better or worse, this blog is the space where I am attempting to figure it out. It’s harder than I thought it would be and I’m still not convinced that I’m any good at it. I know that there are things I write here that I will regret later on. There’s no way around it. Nevertheless I really love writing. I love the book projects I’m involved with, the articles, I love the daily challenge to come up with something to say here. I love that I get the chance to share it on a wider stage. Sometimes I post things here and feel about them the same way I did when I wrote Equal to the Fall nearly twenty years ago. I confess that I will keep going because I want to find my center – in terms of writing – and I don’t know any other way to work it out.
I confess that Jimmy Johnson won the NASCAR race yesterday and I’m pretty stoked about that.
I confess that I’m pretty raw from some rough emotional things that happened yesterday – things connected to my need to achieve, and desire to flee vulnerability through perfectionism. I confess that I didn’t hide and showed up to be my vulnerable self in every situation. I confess this feels like real progress for me.
Okay friends… that’s my confession. Maybe it’s time for you to make yours!