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The Thing Writing Untaught Me

Guest Blogger: Ashlee Willis

My love of writing began with another love – that of reading. Reading made me feel as if things would turn out for the best, no matter what darkness I was going through. The world in that book, in my hands, stuck between those pages – that world couldn’t harm me, and it couldn’t go anywhere. It couldn’t leave me or deceive me or hate me. It wouldn’t make my messy life even messier. In fact, reading made me feel more in control. Worlds neatly placed between the cover of a book – worlds that fit in my very hands.

So it naturally followed that if reading could do that for me, writing would do it too – more so, even.

That’s what I thought, anyway.

I promptly realized that writing is just as messy as real life. Or at least it needs to be if you ever want anyone to read it, if you ever want anyone to care about it.

Illustration © vaeenma • iStockphoto

Illustration © vaeenma • iStockphoto

Writing taught me that, try as I might, I don’t control any world – not even the ones I create. My characters do things I don’t expect them to. My plot twists in ways I never foresee. Part of me wants to rebel at that. Part of me wants to prod my characters back into the outline I spent so much time and labor on. Part of me wants to throw my book out when it doesn’t cooperate with me, when my words don’t send the message my heart wants to speak.

But through the depths of frustration and rewriting and wrestling with those words and emotions and all the worlds that swim around inside me, I discovered something.

Writing isn’t meant to be calm and collected any more than life is. And if I expect it to be, I’m missing out on something important. I’m missing out on all the wonderful stories I have the potential to write, and what’s more, I’m missing out on the wonderful life God has planned for me if I could only see that open door.

And yes, God has a wonderful life planned for me – for you, too. But he doesn’t force and prod us back into his outline. Nor does he abandon us when we stray beyond it. He can take those changes – even the bad ones – and make something even more beautiful out of them.

I’m a fighter. I fight change, even good change, tooth and nail. It makes me uneasy. It makes me scared. It sometimes makes me visit desperate, dark places I’d rather pretend don’t exist.

The Word Changers Cover Art-resizedBut it was in those dark places that I finally understood the pure joy of light. I’d have never discovered it any other way. A seed must be buried in the blackness of earth, baptized by the rain, if it ever wishes to drink the life-giving light of the sun.

So writing taught me about life. Or maybe life taught me about writing. Does it matter which? The point is, now I know. Now I can let go. Now I can trust God to do what He needs to do, trust that He’ll lead me to do what I need to do. Write the book. Live the life. Find the path I’m supposed to be on. Because there’s joy in that path, no matter how crooked it may be, just knowing where it will eventually lead me.


Ashlee WillisAshlee Willis is the author of Christian fantasy for young adults. She loves God, her family, and books, and is happiest when the three can be combined! She lives in the heart of Missouri with her husband and young son. Her novel The Word Changers is available on Kindle now, with a print edition coming June 23. Follow her blog at http://ashleewillisauthor.wordpress.com. Find her on social media: Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.



One comment on “The Thing Writing Untaught Me

  1. Reblogged this on Tales of the Undying Singer and commented:
    Been here, done this… 🙂

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