Who owns an idea?
Who can lay sole claim to a thought?
Does Monet or Renoir have dibs on the Impressionist style?
Who has rights to the supernatural fantasy series? Tolkien? C.S. Lewis? J.K. Rowling?
Does Jazz belong to Billie Holiday?
As a writer and now a blogger, I have always wondered about these things.
I fiddle with words that come from a heart place.
I dabble in phraseology that prattles around in the grey matter.
When I take thoughts and impressions and mark them on paper, usually ones already committed in a journal, those thoughts-turned-words feel like they belong to me. And they do because I ordered the words. I lined them up on the page. Like a musician arranging common notes, or a painter making strokes of color on canvas the way I put words and phrases together is a unique thing. But I don’t possess a word or phrase as my own any more than a musician owns the key of G or a painter possesses the color blue.
So isn’t it true the impressions and thoughts an artist evokes something common to all of us?
When we read or hear or see that commonality we respond with a “yes, I know what you mean.”
Recently a friend who reads my blog compared my writing to Ann Voskamp, the author of A Thousand Gifts.
I took it as a compliment.
Then I panicked.
To work out the panic I decided to mow the lawn.
When I debuted this blog three months ago I knew I would experience what would feel like plummeting off a cliff.
What an amazing, violent word.
I did not fall or jump off this said cliff because in falling or jumping, there is always the slight possibiltiy of surviving such an experience.
But… plummet? Plummet usually means death is at the end of it.
And so it is.
I feel like a part of me has to die as I walk in obedience to the whisper of the One who called me to this writing thing.
I knew I would have to risk transparency in my writing in order for it have any integrity.
I would have to be real about my successes and my failures.
But this was not the reason for my panic.
I walked the lawn.
The mower blade cutting through green and through my thoughts rotating, rotating.
Early in my blog posting I was flipping through my journal looking for a passage I had written weeks earlier. Since most of my posting come from my journals, this was nothing new. When I found what I was looking for and read through the paragraph I began to wonder if I’d really written it. There were no quotes around it which has been my habit for years when I want to remember something from another author. I read the passage again and thought…this is good writing.
It couldn’t be mine.
To prove it I poured over the books I’d been reading searching every paragraph for what I didn’t think belonged to me.
I typed key passages in google just to see if something would pop up that would confirm my belief that I was not capable arranging words in such a harmonious way.
The fear of plagiarizing was so heavy on me I couldn’t see that it was okay to actually like something that I had written. I couldn’t see that it was okay to be compared to a writer that I actually admired.
The mower blades sliced through weeds and dead grass and wrong thinking.
Does not every artist, whether it is a melody writer or a canvas color-er or a clay former, at some point stand back from their art and marvel…did I just do that? Is there not something of the human and divine in every pure creation that makes us bow in humility and stand in awe at the same time?
I knew the words penned in my journal were not the words of these writers…I am far away from that kind of brilliance…however….what I wrote resonated with me and that’s what was familiar. I was looking at my own writing and recognized that I am just penning what has already been poured into my heart. I am writing the resonance.
Piper resonates with me.
Keller resonates with me.
Voskamp resonates with me.
But mostly, Jesus resonates with me.
I hope this is what comes through my writing most of all…the resonation of Jesus.
What are you putting your hand to…what are you creating, crafting, molding, shaping that will resonate encouragement, peace, joy, or inspiration to those around you?
Do you share a style with someone you admire and you are afraid you are just another copycat?