January 10, 2018

Let’s Go to Church

In 2017, I wrote a book.

It’s not the book I thought I would write. I was on course to finish my third novel, In Terms of Liv by November. I was trucking along, I had over half of it written. The hashtag #metoo spread like wildfire, providing the perfect societal backdrop for a young adult novel about sexual assault. Then, I hit a brick wall. It was the most monumental case of writer’s block that I have ever experienced.

For a month, I sat with fingers poised to finish the book, but nothing came.

Then I met Emily Walker.

Emily’s a lot like me when I was seventeen. Quirky, sweet, a little angsty, a little disenchanted with church culture and everything it seems to say about her.

She also has a problem that still plagues me— one that I didn’t know I had until I started writing a book about her.

Emily doesn’t like to take up space.

She wears a lot of black. She wears headphones a lot. She stays out of people’s way, and doesn’t like to say how she feels— especially if it’s going to upset them.

Writing this book about Emily was like seeing myself in a mirror.

I’ve learned a lot from Emily. I’ve learned that making myself smaller is not admirable. It does not make me more lovable. It doesn’t enrich relationship.

I’ve also learned that taking up space looks different all the time. Sometimes, it’s speaking. Sometimes, it’s being comfortable with silence. Sometimes, it’s stretching out in all the space someone’s got roped off for you. Sometimes, it’s kicking out windows and letting the rubble fall where it may. It’s not always gently unfolding into love and security. Sometimes, in order to take up space, something has to give or break or be destroyed.

So, I wrote a book in 2017. It’s a book about kicking out windows and taking up space and stepping into the light.

Emily’s a pretty cool girl. I can’t wait for you to meet her.

“She was not unhappy. She knew nothing of the world except the tomb in which she dwelt, and had some pleasure in everything she did. But she desired, nevertheless, something more or different. She did not know what it was, and the nearest she could come to expressing it to herself was -- that she wanted more room.” - George MacDonald, “The Day Boy and the Night Girl”

On Aprils

Ten years ago, I sat in the dining hall of a Christian camp. A man my father's age sat with me. It was April, and I had no idea... I had...