Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Write What Should Not be Forgotten-Taryn Hutchison

On Living and Examining

We’ve all heard this famous quote by Socrates, maybe even used it in messages: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Robert McKee, in his book about screenwriting called Story, has a new twist that I love. “The unlived life is not worth examining.”

The unlived life. Is your life unlived? Do you ever feel like a powerless spectator, passively watching your days unfold, not wholeheartedly present? It’s time to step out of the sidelines and truly live the storyline God wrote just for you. Enjoy it, taste it, experience all of it - the joys and the sorrows. Take time to reflect on it and record it in your journal.

My husband and I are moving in 13 days. Right now, for me to live my life means taking time out – away from the busyness and the people – to feel the sadness. I won’t allow myself to gloss over it.

Writers can’t be reclusive. You must experience life and look it squarely in the face in order to write about it. According to writer Cyril Connolly, "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."

However you do it best, be sure to live your life and examine it. And please, don’t use the tired excuse that you’re an extrovert. Even extroverts need to pull away to think and evaluate and meditate. In Psalm 139:23 David said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”

In no time, I’ll bet you will find something worth sharing. After all, the God of the Universe is at work in your life. How can there not be a story begging to be told? A story that will help someone else, causing them to know that another has traveled their way before and made it. A story with words that will give hope and courage, strengthen their faith, hearten them, make them laugh, release pent-up tears to cleanse and heal.

This week, the world will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall being torn down. I get goose bumps remembering how I felt at that time. One miraculous act of God after another occurred that fall of 1989, as Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and finally, Romania shook off their oppressive regimes.

I decided to write my book because someone needed to record what life was like in those lands emerging from the shadow of the Iron Curtain. I believed that God’s amazing deeds at that time in history should not be forgotten. My dream was to encourage women like you, women who can relate because you’re doing the same work I did then. I hoped to make you laugh and cry and marvel and to strengthen your faith so you wouldn’t give up, so you’d know your life and your ministry matter.

Whether your journal is for you or for the world, consider the words of Chilean novelist Isabel Allende: "Write what should not be forgotten…"

What About You?

Have you ever felt like a spectator to your own life? How can you live it more fully? Tell us how you examine your life. How frequently do you take time to reflect? Where do you go to do this?

A Challenge:

Think of a life experience you’ve had that should not be forgotten. Sketch it out in writing. Over the next few weeks, we’ll fine-tune those rough drafts and share them with each other at a later date. How about a contest to vote on our favorites in a month or so?


Anonymous said...

What a tremendous idea! I've been hoping to someday stumble into a writer's workshop for novices... The wheels are turning. And - best to you in your move. I'm happy to hear that you are allowing yourself time and space to grieve.

Anonymous said...

so, how are we supposed to do this? Let's suppose I've written something for starters... do I just keep working on it, or do you all help me out? I don't understand the mechanics at this point.

Taryn said...

Stay tuned for more details as the weeks progress. For now, just think of a life experience you might choose and put it to writing. Each week, we'll go over ways to fine-tune those until the time is right to post them. You might even change your mind and end up with a whole different experience to share than what you started with. It is a work in progress for now.

Tish said...

Got one!

Anonymous said...

you did ask a question for this weeks blog, whcih i failed to process. It's a very good question and I would encourage anyone who is reading your blog to take a minute to "reflect" on "reflecting".
Have you ever felt like a spectator to your own life? How can you live it more fully? Tell us how you examine your life. How frequently do you take time to reflect? Where do you go to do this? (this was your query)
Outside if at all possible. I have a lovely patio and love to sit where I can see the garden portion. Reflecting? I've been doing an extra amount of this lately- just journaled about it this morning. I'm feeling quite the hermit in the desert (though I'm not in the cave all the time, I get back to it as fast as I can). But the interactions I do have with people seem to be extraordinarily rich. I think I'm getting a pause from compulsive busyiness (even though there are days I'm extrememly busy!) for something wonderful to "incubate" - an innner transformation that will eventually be lived out in community. Gotta come out of the cave sometime!

Anonymous said...


I just wanted to answer the questions you posed about how we are living life and examining it.

I tend to live life more fully when I surrender my time to the needs and preferences of Him and people. When my focus is on helping and serving others I find myself more actively living out my life. Otherwise I tend to isolate myself, play out my "life" in mental games and resist engaging or moving towards others. When I find myself retreating, I need to look around and see the ones he sends my way and accept that as my way to remain engaged! (For instance, this past week, my sick four year old was home all week from kindergarten!)

One of the ways that I enjoy examining my life is in the context of small groups. I like preparing for a group study time by answering reflective questions brought out from the text. I really like to share with others what I am learning even if it is in an area of struggle. It is refreshing to me to examine my life and share that with others.

I also often reflect whenever I am writing whether it be an email, blog post or in journal form. (It takes me forever to write an email because I contemplate for way too long!!) I like to keep a current, accurate record of my spirit. and emotional life - a state of the union of my life so to speak- and share that with anyone and everyone.



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