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I am a writer

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1. I write because I breathe. God saw fit to create me, and out of that knowledge comes a desire to be creative myself. It makes sense that – made in the Lord’s image and loved as his creation – I would also love creating. I may not have the ability or imagination to conceive of the vastness of space or the intricacies of the human cell, but that will not stop me from using what I have been given.

2. I love to write. I may not be the best at it. I may not even be good at it by the standards of others, but I can forgive myself this. Art is vision. Art is a reflection of the soul. And most importantly, art is a perpetual learning experience. It is only by practicing my art form that I will get better, and so practice I must – despite the mounting number of bloated adjectives and clichéd characters I leave behind.

Failure, I have learned, is like stepping on dog droppings on the sidewalk. It stinks and you get angry. It’s embarrassing. It sticks to you, and it’s hard to shake off the lingering effects. But if the alternative is being immobilized by the dog droppings and staring at them for the rest of a miserable existence, too scared of failure to advance, then really you only have one option.

Of course, with the amount of failure I’ve seen in my writing, I’m probably wading knee-deep in dog droppings. But I can handle that. It gives me ample reason to keep moving.

3. My writing shall always serve a higher purpose. My secular classmates often tell me that art is necessary “for art’s sake,” as if writing is an idol to which I should sacrifice my creativity. I disagree with this. I worship God, not my art, and therefore my writing will conform to my beliefs, not the other way around. I will not bow down to my writing just as I would not pray to a painting or bow down to a statue, no matter how aesthetically pleasing they seemed. Art is the expression of an idea or conviction; it is a conduit, not a destination.

4. I write because I am broken. Writing is a form of bleeding, employed by those who are cut too easily, and bleed too freely. It allows release for the ideas, the emotions, the confusions that build up in the mind and force us to seek the ultimate answers. The writer is habitually conflicted, caught with one foot in reality and one foot in fantasy, and unable to choose either. He or she is a contradiction that is not easily resolved. Move toward reality, and one will lose one’s ability to write, and consequently the ability to release the tensions within. Move toward the fantasy, and the world will fade into a mess of delusions and phantasmagorical constructions, and the writer will become only a shadow of his or her self. The writer must walk the knife’s edge, or risk losing the dream altogether.

But that is where I stand. I am a writer. I write because I dream. I dream because I am alive. And I am alive because of the grace of God. God has given me a desire to write that I cannot ignore, and so I try, with faltering hands and clumsy tools, to craft something worthy of the desire God has placed in me. Like all of us, reaching back to Adam himself, I mostly fail.

But that which drives me will not relent.

Paul Esau is a BA student in English and Creative Writing at the University of the Fraser Valley. He attends The Life Centre, Abbotsford, B.C.

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