how to write when your story is messy (aka, big news)

I’ve been trying to find out how to tie up this story like a big, neat, shiny bow. And it’s just not happening. 

Friends, life is changing. I want to write all about it, but the story is messy.

This isn’t any storyboard plot, ready for Disney animation folks to come on it and create characters. This isn’t a plot that fits neatly in one of those essay outline umbrellas we tackled in sixth grade English class. This isn’t even a tidy, 90-minute rom-com movie that launches with a meet-cute and ends with a wedding.

(Frankly, if it were a movie, no one would stay until the end. The plot would baffle everyone in the audience.)

And I’ve been thinking and praying and talking and wondering how to do this. How to start, how to finish, how to craft the in-between bits.

I’ve only come up with one thing: grace.

How to write when your story is messy? With grace.

First, with grace for those who read. Grace for the audience, the community, the friends. Rather than tell you how we got here, I’ll tell you where we’re going first.

So here’s the big news, part one: Mr. S. and I are embarking on a big, new journey and a big, new season. We are moving, from Lafayette, Indiana, to Kansas City, Missouri.

(And yes, I’ve lived there before. Post-college, pre-Indiana, and the community there was wonderful.)

The path leading up to this has been overwhelming and fraught with anxiety. Mr. S. is wrapping up his graduate studies with his nose to the figurative grindstone. He’s putting in 12-hour, 14-hour days, all-nighters I hope he never has to pull again.

Tomorrow, Friday, we’re moving our lives in a U-Haul from Indiana to Missouri. He’s driving the truck and I’m driving his car. On Monday, I’ll get on a plane with a one-way ticket back, for my last week here. And eight days from today, I’ll drive the same stretches of highway back to KC.

His career? He accepted a new position at a familiar company, a place where he interned twice.

My career? Well, that’s the big news, part two: I’m taking my writing and consulting business full-time! Launching Inspiration-Driven Communication was a leap of faith; taking the full-time plunge is an even greater leap. It’s scary because I am a writer and I love it and I can’t ignore it anymore. Oh, but it’s also so exciting. It’s exciting because I am a writer and I love it and I can’t ignore it anymore. I’m a freelancer now, this is a fresh start, and I’ll tell you more about it in the next few weeks.

The past year has held moments of joy, moments of triumph and moments of gratitude. It has also held moments of sheer frustration, big tears and overwhelming stress.

Now that the news is out in the open, I can share those moments with you. I’m excited to share what community, marriage, faith, work and even food has looked like during this crazy transition.

And when our story is messy, we have to write with grace for the story’s characters. Mr. S. faced (and is facing) much uncertainty and much difficulty during his time as a grad student. And some days, it felt like he was up against a Big Bad Wolf or some other villain from a fable.

But oh, friends, that just made for a beautiful contrast. Every advocate, every friend, every cheerleader just seemed even sunnier because of it.

So as I tell this story, I want not to incriminate those who made the journey into a battle. Grace for them. I’d rather shine light on those who loved so, so big. I’d rather shine light on those who held hands a la Red Rover and kept us strong. Grace for them too.

One more thing as I write: grace for the writer. Messy stories matter just as much as their clean counterparts. All of our stories are messy sometimes, and that’s okay. I spent the better part of August writing and rewriting and drafting and revising and altogether wincing over how to tell this story. The story didn’t feel organized, didn’t feel clear.

But life isn’t exactly organized or clear. So I’m giving myself grace to embrace where I am today, as a writer of this story and a live-er of this story. Whether the words are written through tears or with a smile, they are worthy.

This life and these stories, in all the messiness . . . so worthy of being shared. Your story is too.

Thanks for coming alongside me in this big move, friends. Thanks for grace when the story is messy — and it’s always a little bit messy.

Linking up today with Desire to Inspire and Imperfect Prose.


26 thoughts on “how to write when your story is messy (aka, big news)

  1. Excited for you Sarah. My husband and I have done what your doing many times. Each time it grew our faith and deepened our love for each other. I have relatives where your moving and close friends not far away in KS. Blessings to you on the new adventure.

    • Shelly, thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so glad to hear that similar moves grew your faith and deepened your marriage. Please, please keep reminding me of that testimony, friend!

      Also glad to hear that you have family and friends in my new neck of the woods! When you’re visiting them, give me a call. I would just love a cup of coffee with you!

  2. I love this! I love your honesty! Its oh so true…life is just messy…but we have to embrace the mess and just keep living! In grace!
    PS I love love love wedded wednesdays!

    • Thank you so much, Lana! And I am so glad you like Wedded Wednesdays! This week and last week were unbelievable, with preparations for the move and transitioning with work . . . but Wedded Wednesdays are back to stay next week! Hooray!

      Any particular topic you’d like to see covered on Wedded Wednesdays? I’d LOVE your thoughts! Send me an email: 🙂

  3. Woo! Sarah, love this big news. And you. And Mr. S. I’m pretty sad you’ll be farther from me, but oh-so-happy that you both will have some certainty in the next few months! Oh, and launching full time with your business? So proud. Can’t wait to come visit you both in KC in the coming year and celebrate this exciting change with you! To new beginnings!

    • To new beginnings for certain! Thanks, love, for your support and encouragement throughout. You’re a rock. Grateful for you. And my home is your home, so please-oh-please visit anytime!

  4. EEEEeek! So excited for you and anxious and well, I’ll be praying, friend! Oh what God can do through us when we follow His dreams while driving a UHaul…and He has big dreams for you, girl…

    • Thank you!! I LOVE what you said here: “What God can do through us when we follow His dreams while driving a UHaul . . .” True words, friend!

      Your encouragement means so much to me. Thank you.

  5. Sarah, this is exciting and pretty scary, I’m sure! I’m praying the exciting part outweighs the scary. Oh and congrats on going fulltime!!

  6. Hi Sarah! I’m so glad you linked up with Desire to Inspire! Your writing about the messiness of grad school, well, it definitely resounds with familiarity for my. We had a lot of messy (and grace-filled) moments when my husband was working on his PhD…I think I might to write about some of those.

    Thank you so much for linking up! I look forward to many more inspiring posts from you!

    Oh – and congrats on your new business adventure!

  7. Pingback: five minute friday: graceful (notes on a move) « inspiration-driven life

  8. So proud of you for following your dreams and excited to hear you’re going back to KC. Keep me posted! We never had our phone date we kept talking about doing over the summer!

  9. Pingback: what moving taught me about provision (notes on a move) « inspiration-driven life

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