written by Will Bortz
‘So many times I looked for answers in a cup of coffee, but my hands got cold before I found clarity.’ This speaks directly to what I spent the better part of five years of my life doing: searching. For what, I had no idea. All I found was dead space. Growing up in an unstable household and being raised by a wonderful woman who was not ready, or given the proper resources, to be a loving mother invoked a lot of questions. I had a hard time brushing them off and looked for answers in so many empty things that would later become my vices.
When I was ten years old I walked in the door after a day of school to find my mother sprawled out on the floor, painted blue. As I got older this was a sight that I became very desensitized to as I watched my mother struggle with her life and balancing multiple mental illnesses and raising two children on her own. A lot of my teenage years were spent self-medicating and riding that grey area between life and death with her; writing down the thoughts that ran through my head because I was so sure that when I spoke no one was listening.
In my solitude, I fantasized about a life that seemed so far beyond what I believed I deserved. At a young age I had lost my whimsy and replaced it with malice, which poisoned my spirit and poured into every area of my life. One particular aspect of my childhood that was already poorly developed took a huge hit: how I perceived relationships. I would spend hours writing about the purposelessness of having close relationships while simultaneously grieving over my increasing loneliness. I did not understand what closeness was and I was quick to uproot anything at the first sign of blooming. I was so afraid of becoming attached to growth only to have it stop suddenly or strangle me. I was in such desperate need for anything, for guidance- for reformation, discipline and teaching.
In the summer of 2014 I felt the Lord’s hand in my life for the very first time.
Be my breath
Make my sadness untrue
pour out over me
A love I am undeserving of
I am sure now
there is nothing that
could be better
than to be the
jagged stone that I am
yet be handled by
hands so gentle
as if I was a feather.
The Lord brought me out of the darkness and despair I called home and into the light of His presence. I found myself in a community full of Godly men who wanted nothing more than to share what God has taught and made known to them. The Lord also blessed me with an incredible companion that I am able to share my walk with and grow with in my faith. I first met this woman a year ago this April and she has never stopped encouraging me in every aspect of my life and helping me become a good leader. I am constantly being humbled by the stark contrast of my life now compared with how I was living a year ago. I see examples of this in my writing and how it has changed. How I once wrote- crying out for anyone to listen- and now I am writing with the purpose of letting those who have been where I once was know that He is listening. My Heavenly Father was there in every dark moment of my life protecting me, listening, and guiding me. Though I was running from Him, He still loved and pursued me. God adopted me as a son and answered the prayer I prayed my whole life: Where is my caretaker? The difference the Lord has made in my life is incomprehensible. That is what I have found my goal in writing to be -explaining the goodness that only the Lord can bring, and how He listens to even the smallest of needs and that the relationship you have with Christ is more intimate than any other. Words will never do that justice. Words can never fully encapsulate God’s holiness- but striving to write with the desire of accomplishing that has made writing an incredible experience. A year ago I was sitting in the darkness, writing about false hopes knowing nobody was listening, and now I write about His goodness, His Glory, and stories of the people that have been leaders to me.
Writing has a been a huge part of my life since I was a kid, but when I was 19 is when I started to see it as something less self-revolving. I released my first book in January of 2012 entitled ‘These Ties’. These Ties was a book of poetry and short stories that revolved around relationships, how our early life shapes how we perceive them, and fantasies about long lasting relationships. My second book was released that same year in December. I had done a lot of searching, a lot of indulging into my vices, and this book, ‘Petrichor’, was the end product. Petrichor revolved around this idea of love I had created over the past year. This book was full of questions and an aimless hope for anything to come into my life at all. Over the next 2-3 years I published a couple of poems in publications and anthologies, had a couple book signings, and published a few short stories. In August of 2014 I published my third book entitled, “Lately, I’ve been drinking alone.”. The title did a good job of bringing the idea behind the book to the front. “A collection of poetry inspired by the doubt and self-deprecation quietly intertwined in relationships. An attempt to understand the difference between the stress of wanting things to be better, and the anxiety felt of trying to keep them together when they are.” This book was released just a few days before I gave my life to Christ.
‘Roots’ is the current book I am working on and should be released late this summer. Proverbs says “Man cannot be made secure by wickedness, but the root of the righteous is immovable.” God has helped me make sense of the darkness of my past. For so long I believed that I was the darkness, but I had just been dressing myself in it for so long that it became like my skin. Roots is a love letter- a rejoicing-of the wonders our Shepherd has worked in my life. Accompanied by the doubts, struggles, and triumphs of understanding the Lord’s sovereign hand throughout the entirety of my life.
By the grace & love of my Heavenly Father I have been placed within a community of men that inspires integrity, courage, and diligence. I am constantly being motivated by the Godly men I work alongside and spend time with to become the kind of man the Lord calls me to be. Through my community I have truly discovered the importance and moving power of honesty, and that has certainly taken my craft of writing to a new level.
Through Him what is dark becomes light.
One day I decided
To take a step
And it hurt less
Than standing still
All of my books are available for free on Barnes & Noble or Smashwords.com in any online format. Print copies are also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book retailers. If you would like to follow my updates of ‘Roots’ you can follow me on:
Facebook Author Page: William Bortz
Samples of my work are available at: redandhazel.tumblr.com
Look for ‘Roots’ to be released this fall.
*photo by Auggie Toscano