Out and about

Years ago, I went to a youth church service, but not for the obvious reason. Usually, one goes to a church service as part of the fellowship or congregation. But I found myself going as a writer, and feeling quite strange about it. I was used to being one in the crowd or part of a fellowship. Adding to my uncomfortably of being the writer there, the service wasn’t in the kind of church I was personally familiar with. However, I comforted myself in seeing something I was familiar with, which was the informal style, a style distinct from the more traditional styles of church. I wasn’t at all the youngest there, but this was a youth service that wasn’t going to ring the bells at just the precise moment. This was not, in other words, a liturgical service, but something quite a few young people could relax with. I found myself feeling quite foreign to the idea of being there as writer. I felt older and conspicuous as well. And the focus of attention, however wrongly I may think. I was glad when it was over and i could get to the business of writing about what I saw. But as I did more of going place to place to report on meetings and events, I began enjoying it.

But there is nothing as horrible as feeling you’re the odd one out in a crowd of people, where you’re the one who is a little different to everyone else, because you’re the writer.

But I got to feel more comfortable with the designation of ‘writer in a strange place’ whose comfort zone is behind the computer doing actual writing. But writers must venture out. It’s part of what we do. Without observing and reporting on the world, a writer lacks something on that ‘outer’ interaction and experience of the world.


Observation for me can be a discipline to concentrate on the world around me and write from that, but observation is useful in writing, of course. My art teacher said to me, “Look at the world first, then go into the mind.” It’s something to apply when I catch myself wandering in my imagination a bit too much when the task requires more concentration on what’s in the world or right in front of my nose. Because it seems that art is based on something in reality–which people, my readers, can relate to.