One of my all-time favorite songs—“Degausser”—by one of my all-time favorite bands—Brand New—on my second all-time favorite album—The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me—has a background lyric that often comes to mind when I sit down to write: “I wish I could inspire.” It’s sung in agony—the song is one of the best audible depictions of the undulating nature of depression I’ve ever come across—and without any indication that the writer is doing just that: inspiring.
In a lot of ways, I am guilty of the same blindspot as Jesse Lacey. I have been in a club with one thousand people belting that song and an in amphitheater with ten thousand people belting that song. Brand New is not the isolating experience every emo kid of the mid-2000s wanted them to be. They’re a true juggernaut and they mean something. And yet the heaviness of Jesse’s depression at the time blinded him to the true power of his music.
I’m curious if my writing is just the same.
I average about 20 views a blog post right now. Not bad, though I still get irked when my Facebook post linking to the blog gets more likes—most likely because of the featured picture—than the actual post gets views. I’ve had three posts on this blog already get more views than all but one on my former blog that I ran for two years. It seems the more honest and angry I get, the deeper the connection…but only if I write a good lead.
So what are my goals with writing? How can I inspire?
With my first novel, Absolution, I sat down with this clear motivation in mind: reveal the importance of God’s instructions without ever mentioning God or Christianity. I wanted to reflect the vital nature of forgiveness, community, perseverance, and friendship. All of those things honor him without resorting to the hokey nature of so much Christian fiction.
I like to think my travel writing is inspirational, but I also think I need to get better at it. I just wish more people would go see the world, go see other people, go taste other foods, go listen to other music, go see more art. Perspective seems to be at an all-time low, but I’ve yet to find anywhere near the voice I want to implore people to give up a few meals out for a few months and book that plane ticket.
And I don’t really know that my blog is inspirational. But it’s honest, and I hope that’s the point. I’m pretty isolated and most people don’t really know what I do most days—how hard I look for a job, or how I prep my novel manuscript, or help around the house—and I just want to be understood and seen. I’m trying so hard and hoping, expecting, waiting…and getting frustrated in the interim.
It’s pretty hard to find inspiration right now. I daydream about the going and writing on the road. But I don’t want to be a typical travel blogger. (I joke about being a hot Instagram travel blogger all the time. I am 100% open to the white linen pants and island life style for any company that stumbles upon this.) Don’t be inspired by the picture of a beautiful place. We live in a world of images of beautiful places, people, and things.
I want people to be inspired by the change. And I guess the only place I know where to start with that is within me.