Confessions of a Frustrated Writer

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  • Last week, my family and I stole an afternoon together to celebrate my son’s perfect spelling test that day. We ate a meal, caught a movie together, and then went to one of our favorite bookstores. We all have sections in this store. My children have their section, of course. My wife likes to look at the books related to home and family. And I usually browse the magazine racks and new releases, unless I’m looking for something specific. That’s what I was doing that evening, when I stumbled over a section of magazines on writing. Even though I have prowled those magazine racks many times before, I had never noticed this small section. I picked up on of magazines and began to read the table of contents. All of sudden, I became filled with emotion. The articles were written for beginning writers (or “would-be” writers like me). And many of the questions that I have about writing were addressed. I picked up another and found that it, too, was filled with helpful hints, directives, resources for would-be writers. I picked up another magazine. And to my surprise, it was an entire magazine devoted to “spiritual writing.” And some of the writers whose works I enjoy and benefit from had articles in there practical suggestion for those who would write for the spiritual good of others. As I thumbed through magazines, my heart began to race. I was excited. Maybe too excited.

    I am a frustrated writer. I group up with a burden to preach. And as I got older, I wanted to pastor. And alongside of these two passions, I have wanted to write. I remember as a teenager, going to bookstores and just becoming overwhelmed by all the books. I wanted to write. More recently, I gave up on my desire to write. I have just seen too many people who don’t have anything biblically helpful to say get published simply because they are high-profile religious personalities. Evidence for this disturbing trend can be seen in the fact that many books that are published now ditch the idea of cover-art and simple plaster a picture of the well-known religious personality on the front cover. Honestly, this trend has been very discouraging to me. But I am not at the point where that old flame is being rekindled. I’ve been writing a little monthly newsletter for my church for the past year. I have been writing a little review of our book-of-the-month for several years now. I have been writing periodic articles on various issues for the church, usually in our weekly bulletin. And I have begun this blog. And my wife has been challenging me to write for the entire seven years of our marriage. If I complain about anything, Crystal is prone to respond, “Oh, yeah. Well why don’t you write a book?” She’s eased up a bit lately. Of late, she has been riding me to jus ride a booklet or a pamphlet or to edit on of the sermon series I have already done.

    All of this has rekindled my passion for writing. And some of the little things that I have been engaged are actually building my confidence that I cam do it. The issue for me is not really about being published, or any of the things associated with that. Rather, I am driven by the conviction that I have something to say that would be helpful to others in their spiritual walk or ministerial work. Beyond that, I just feel driven to do it. Have you ever felt that way about something? Have you ever had a drive, burden, or passion to do something? Has a goal, dream, and opportunity ever lived with you and wouldn’t leave you alone? That’s where I am. I’m a frustrated writer. Even as I am praying about what the Lord would have me To do in the coming year, writing continues to weigh on my heart and mind. Of course, saying yes to a personal writing project means saying no to a lot of other opportunities. And that’s something I struggle with. I’m still learning that I can say yes to every opportunity, or else I won’t be able to to make the most of any opportunity. So, for the moment, I am still a frustrated writing, trying to find expression. Hopefully, I will become frustrated enough about this issue to do something about it!


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.