One of the great things about Lent is the Gospels associated with the season. We get the same stories, reaffirming Jesus’ journey to his death and key moments in the establishment of the faith of the apostles and by temporal extension, us. This past Sunday was the story of the transfiguration of Jesus. I’ve always found this story to be one of the more interesting passages of the gospel. It is Jesus revealing himself to his followers ultimately showing them his true essence, that of the divine. I especially like the description of ” no fuller on earth can white them,” kind of the Mr. Sparkle of the 1st century.
I find myself dealing with this concept of transformation in recent weeks. As I reflect more on Lent, write more about it, and at the same time write on other topics, I’m realizing that not only has writing been a constant in my life, it is something I am, a writer. I think the big realization came when I was talking to my mom about something I wrote. I was genuinely touched that my mom read something of mine and that she liked it. I mentioned the podcast I do (The History of the United States! go take a listen!) and she just asked if I got paid anything. The answer as most people with a blog or podcast know, is no I don’t get paid. Mind, it wasn’t a judgmental kind of question, just a curious one, but it did lead to other thinking. I seriously thought, “why do I do this?” I won’t say it’s a need or a complusion or even a love, but it is a joy. I honestly don’t care if I get paid or not, I’ll still do it.
Having said that, I wouldn’t say no to a writing gig that pays. What I’ve found with getting paid, however, is that the patron is apt to call the tune. I don’t know, seriously, if I could do that. I love to read, watch, listen to people talk about writing. So many of them seem to be able to compartmentalize it, make it a job. I don’t think I could. At the risk of sounding very vain, I like to write what I write and not what someone wants me to write. Especially at this point in my life. I put the final period on the dissertation, that great opus of trying to impress three people, and I just don’t have the desire to go back to it, get more feedback from an editor and rehash it all again. I just can’t see the creativity in that. I suppose there isn’t a lot of creativity in writing reviews of Phish concerts and White Sox ballpark food, but it still is mine.
And isn’t that what a professional writer would do? Give their big project some legs, make it work for them as well as work on new things. I tell students all the time that editing is part of writing. I was talking to friend the other day about the division between work and other stuff. We share a diversity of interests, though different in their approach. We work, we write and we podcast. I asked if he would change the relationship between work and the other stuff. Let’s face it, work takes up a lot of that time. The other things are on the fringe.
In a way, I’m making a living on the fringe. Yeah, I like my job and where I work, not things I take lightly. But I won’t say it feeds my soul. It isn’t where I feel inspired. And that is where this idea of transformation comes into play. I’ve been satisfied with this fringe existence, but I can feel dissatisfaction creeping in on me. It’s only a glimpse, that dazzling white, but I can’t unsee it either.