But this one's different. This one, in fact, has already been written. Just not published.
This blog already exists as entries in my various journals--most in spiral-bound notebooks, handwritten in Parker's washable blue fountain pen ink (most of the time); some in bits and pieces in my computer's memory. All that needs to happen is for me to choose and copy journal entries from one format into blog format, and presto! The Freedom Diaries will become a reality.
For weeks, or more truly for months, if not years, I've been saying to myself and occasionally to others that I was going to write the story of my journey, first out of parish ministry, then out of the Episcopal priesthood entirely and into my present unfolding life as a writer and a painter and a collage-maker, all part of my "new life of freedom".
From time to time I would make little inroads into telling that story but then I'd stop, feeling stumped as to how to continue honestly and compellingly without torturous effort. I'd feel overwhelmed by the task of having to shape some sort of over-arching narrative in order to tell the tale (thanks, Patty, for that observation yesterday!). I know, too, that fear of offending people who knew me as a priest often hampered my progress.
I'm not interested in too much torturous effort, nor in being hampered by fear or the challenge of shaping a great narrative. I want this process to be as enjoyable as possible. And I really want to tell the story in a gutsy, honest, funny, and compassionate manner or not tell it at all.
This morning I happened across some of my random journal entries in my computer's documents, usually filed with the words "ramblings" somewhere in the title. I opened up one such document and started to read, and something shifted.
"Why not just start putting these into a blog and out into the wider world?" I mused.
I still get to decide what to publish and what not to publish. I can do minimal editing for clarity or humor or grace (but not too much grace! these are just journal entries after all), or to remove the names of the innocent.
Why ever not? And with that I was on my way.
I looked up "diary" in the Oxford English Dictionary and found this rather lovely line from D'Israeli: "We converse with the absent by letters, and with ourselves by diaries."
And for a long time I've been savoring a snippet from Anne Lamott's book, Bird by Bird, and now I have a reason to use it:
"Toni Morrison said, 'The function of freedom is to free someone else,' and if you are no longer wracked or in bondage to a person or a way of life, tell your story. Risk freeing someone else. Not everyone will be glad that you did. Members of you family and other critics may wish you had kept your secrets. Oh, well, what are you going to do?"
And now, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I present to you: The Freedom Diaries: the previously unpublished chronicles of my midlife journey from Episcopal priest to free-lance human being.