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Abby’s Writing Process So Far: A Joyous and Challenging Journey

Written by Abby Grifno

Abby Grifno's in her natural writing habitat with a coffee mug, laptop and living room chair. Working with the Riverside Innovation Hub on this writing project was a task that I stumbled upon. I applied full-heartedly and with a certainty that I’d be adding a rejection to my slushpile. When I received news of the opposite, I was proud of myself, but then I was overwhelmed. Our writing project had “vulnerability” written all over it, something I knew from the very beginning. My topic, “Marginalization, Inclusion, and Liberation” is one I feel both passionate about and often ill-qualified to speak on. Thankfully, I’ll just be writing.

My co-author, Dr. Jimmy Hoke, has guided our discussions and the process with the utmost care, and it’s made a huge difference. But the writing process still has its challenges. We are dealing with problems that aren’t just our own, but also of the generations and the lives that came before us. Novels could and have been written on our topic and there’s no way my writing will be able to speak on everything I wish it could. All I can do is add my own perspective to the mix and hope it reaches the right people, resonates with someone, and contributes to an on-going discussion of what our beautiful church could be. 

The hardest part? Deciding what is allowed on the page and what is still only written in my heart. While I’ve always loved writing personal narratives, I’ve remained selective about who views them. A chapter. Out in the world. Scary. Writing my thoughts, even only in draft form, can feel like an admission I’m not quite ready to make. Even though I know that there is always a backspace and more importantly, a kind conversation available on any differing viewpoints Jimmy and I have. I’m still working on it though, and my current draft is an obvious reflection of my thoughts working themselves out. 

Other aspects of our project are joyous and easy. My favorite part has been connecting with other writers, knowing that even though some of us are states away, we are all dealing with the same vulnerabilities, the same roadblocks. When I’m struggling, I picture my colleagues on their laptops too, typing away and doing their best and working it out, just as I am. We will all get there together. 

I absolutely love seeing the places where Jimmy’s voice and mine come together. One exercise we are partaking in is dreaming of a better church; imagining a world of liberation and what that would feel like. I hope when others read, they’ll imagine their own vision of the church, igniting a fire of hope and determination. Whenever I get stuck writing, I go back to that mental vision.  

I’ve been writing for a long time. From the days when I had my dad type up my hand-written stories to sharing personal pieces with college classmates, bated breath. It’s never easy. Still, I’m always looking forward to the moment when it comes together and I feel proud of what I’ve written despite the imperfections. I’m still waiting for that moment. Until then, I’ll be chugging along and chatting with Jimmy. We’ll get the right words down, written for the right people, focusing on the right things, at the right time. It’s all part of the process.  

Stay tuned for more stories about the writing process from the young adult book project!