E-mail was an annoying boss who must have been absent the day they studied "The Basics of Managing People" in business school. She brought me work, for which I was grateful, but her terse manner chipped away at my self-esteem. E-mail, why are you so uptight? And why all the last minute demands? E-mail was always ready to deliver directives, but was shy about coming around when I submitted commendable work. Sometimes I wasn't sure my clients received the art I completed for them at all; unless they were unhappy, E-mail hid behind a tree.
My relationship with E-mail changed seven or eight months ago when I launched a blog for Christian writers. For practical reasons, I use e-mail to manage the content of blog. Apparently, for writers, e-mail's "compose" window is just another blank canvas. Some of the e-mail messages I get from my authors are every bit as powerful as the essays they send as attachments, over which they have labored for weeks. Why? Because their e-mail messages are more personal, and less carefully edited. They are acoustic, unplugged. My inbox is stuffed with these gems. Let me just tell you, sweet people: I wish I could publish each and every one. For obvious reasons, I can't.
Sometimes, I see a germ of an idea in an e-mail from a writer friend that needs to be developed for the world to see. My friend Vikki wrote one such sentence about her childhood, almost as a throw-away comment in our back-and-forth e-mail messages. When she was a little girl, in the early morning hours, she would hear her parents typing down the hall. They wrote scripts for plays that aired on a local radio station. I begged her to expand this brilliant little seed into an entire post for the blog. She and our mutual friend Brett got to chatting about her assignment (via e-mail!); Brett surprised us by sharing a couple of amazing stories from his childhood.
All of this developed into a short series called Childhood Joys and Wonder: Vikki's essay (Part I) posted Wednesday; Brett's (Part II) goes live today. Both of their stories are wonderful, I hope you'll take the time to read them. It would be tragic, however, if no one outside our small circle was privy to the original e-mail from which the series sprang. Therefore, I attained permission to post this paragraph, written by my friend Brett Wilkes.
I was thinking about what stories I can tell from being seven years old...
For some reason, the first one that came to mind was playing piano at church. I may have been nine or ten when this happened; it occurred a couple of times. I learned a long, involved song on the piano from my lessons and practice, and I would get to play it in church during the offering collection. Most weeks, it was my mom who played, as she was our organist. But a couple of times, I played a piece on the piano, and did well. I was proud of myself/relieved at not messing up/happy at having done a good job on a great-sounding song... and yet I felt this strange anger? bitterness? that not many people applauded when I stepped down from the piano and into the pew. Actually, they couldn't see who was playing because of the way things were set up, and people told me after church they were so surprised when this short boy walked out from behind the piano rather than my mom or the other lady who played piano for church every Sunday; but they hadn't done a lot of clapping or whatever kind of recognizing. I brought this up to my mom—I was only nine, remember—and she had to tell me that playing a song in church wasn't for the purpose of being liked by the people who heard it. It was just to play for God as a gift/offering/worship. That message made sense to me, but for whatever reason—age? being human?—I didn't like that. I wanted that recognition. Years down the road now, I try to live with a healty balance of enjoying affirmation from others while not being dependent on recognition. I don't think the enjoyment of recognition is bad in itself. But I'm still learning where the differences are and how recognition and satisfaction work and interact. I'm also still learning what actually makes God enjoy something.Brett voluntarily helps me edit every single post that we publish at baaaaa.com. He seems to think he's more of an editor than a writer, but I beg to differ. Thanks for everything, Brett.... and thank you writer friends, all of you, for taking the edge off that old biddy, E-mail.
Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. ~ Proverbs 3:25-26