Yesterday, I talked a lot. I mean A LOT-A LOT. I went to my kids’ school and had no less than six decent conversations in the course of a few hours. If you count the three books I read to the 2nd grade class, I basically talked the entire time I was on the school property.
That’s not counting all the conversations I had with my kids, my husband, and our project manager at the new house before and after I left the school.
I strained my throat from all the talking.
Not kidding. My throat actually hurt.
Because I’ve been focusing on the Discipline of Silence this month, I had this nagging voice in the back of my mind all day long, through every conversation. It simply said, “Shut. Up. Sandy.”
You’d think by the end of this month, I would have learned to temper this tongue more effectively. While I’ve made a lot of progress (just being aware of how much I talk has been enlightening) I still have so far to go. And despite the nagging voice in my head urging me to shut up, I still felt compelled to talk to anyone and everyone who engaged me in conversation.
At the end of the day and the month, it all felt a lot less like connection and a lot more like failure.
It bothered me a lot. I realize I’m trying to undo 40-something years of speech patterns in 30 days, but I just thought I would have made more progress by now. Instead of finishing off the month with silence, solitude and depth, I finish it with strained vocal chords.
At the end of the long (and talkative!) day, I took my sore throat and wounded self-confidence, and we all crawled into bed to read. I opened my book and, to my surprise and delight, saw this:
“It is good to talk. Do not be ashamed of it. Talk is the exercise ground for writing. It is a way we learn about communication—what makes people interested, what makes them bored…Talk is a way to warm up for the big game—the hours you write alone with your pen and notebook.”
~Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
I was NOT expecting to read that. I guess that means that, like everything else in life, it all comes down to balance.
Yes, I probably talk a little (a lot!) too much. Yes, it is good to listen more than I speak and filter my words with God’s Word. No, I do not need to share every thought that pops into my brain, even if I think it’s funny or insightful.
But talking to humans helps me write well. Who knew?
Turns out, I enjoy good conversations. I love to make people laugh. I love to talk about family, and God and priorities. I have a lot of stories, and I really enjoy telling them.
And I also love to write.
(I also love to burst out in random song lyrics. And while this tendency does not aid my writing, it does embarrass my kids, which is something I value as a parent, so I will not be stopping this any time soon.)
As I reflect over the last few years, it is true: Most great conversations I have had eventually became blog posts or Bible study illustrations. Talking (disciplined, God-filtered talking) does enhance the texture and tone of my writing.
It’s not either/or. It’s both/and.
That doesn’t sound like failure. That sounds like insight. Growth. Depth.
Exactly what I hoped for this month, after all.