Thursday, June 7, 2012

Why Be a Writer?

Recently a dear friend of mine, who is a fellow aspiring writer and a Christian, voiced her perturbations about the writer’s life. While her doubts seemed fleeting, they raise an interesting topic for thought. So, I have decided to confront not only her doubts, but the various reservations I have had over the years as a writer. Who knows? Maybe I’ll learn something. Or at the least, hopefully, I will supply my hoards of stealthy readers (I know you’re out there!) with a few paragraphs worth of quality diversion.

Let’s start with the big question–

Why be a writer?

When it comes down to it, the answer for me is, simply, because I love writing. I don’t remember the date or the time (I usually don’t), but I definitely remember that moment when it clicked; when I went from "I think I want to be a writer", to "I am a writer, and I will do everything in my power to succeed". I have had few such epiphanies in my life, and perhaps that’s why the memory of this one is so tangible. –By the way, did you know that the word "epiphany" actually has religious origins? Epiphany is a holiday celebrated on January 6th to commemorate the coming of the Wise Men to visit the young Jesus, hence a celebration of Jesus Christ being revealed to the Gentiles. (Already knew that, huh? Well, I didn’t. I just looked it up.) Yes, I love writing, I love it enough to miss sleep, meals and showers; to drink cold tea because I've been caught up in a blaze of heavenly inspritation, and stagnant water because I don't want to stop writing to go get fresh.

But is this mad love of writing enough? I may love the taste of certain alcoholic beverages, but should I constantly imbibe? No. This is where you have to examine in a more sober light, ones vocational merits. One of the questions my friend posed was, How does writing further Christ and His kingdom? That’s a good question, so I’m going to try to reason out an answer here.

Tools can generally be used for two purposes– to build up or to tear down. Likewise, we can either use our gifts, skills and passions to encourage people in their faith, or to hinder them.

So, can I glorify God through my writing? I believe I can, if I use my tools rightly. However, we must also be honest with ourselves; I’m not going to over spiritualize and say that being a writer is my divine calling-- my divine calling, as well as the rest of the world’s, is to love the Lord with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength, no matter what I do.

So, how do I love the Lord through my writing? By honoring Him in it. Not every line has to be a sermon, but I am not going to write anything that (a) causes me to disobey His word, or (b) knowingly causes others to stray from His truth. Taking it a step further, I am going to write to encourage others to draw closer to Him.

Writing, as with all the arts, is simply a means of communication, and a powerful one at that, and I believe we’d all do well to take heed to how we communicate in all areas of our life.
I would love for everyone I come into contact with to somehow be a little bit enriched because of something they gleaned from the experience. That may not happen always, and sadly I’m not always careful about my communication, but it’s something I aspire to. I hope that my novels (you know, when they’re published and on all the best seller lists) will inspire people to be somehow better for having read them.

Bottom line– What is a dream worth?

How far am I willing to go to succeed as a writer? In all major decisions in life we’d be wise to sit down and count the cost before making them. Life as a writer has its sacrifices, but I believe you have to establish how far you’re willing to go and what lines you are absolutely not willing to cross. In His historical sermon on the mount Jesus instructs us to store up our treasure in Heaven, not on the earth. If my treasure is in worldly success then I am mislead. I will go as far, as high, as deep, and as wide as I can to become a writer, but I refuse to cross the line if it comes to honoring my Lord or seeking honor for myself, and that’s an attitude I try to maintain in all aspects of life. It’s not always easy, but I try. Another area in which I do not desire to err, is with family. Someday I believe God will bless me with a husband and children, and If my writing in some way became unhealthy for us as a family, then, Adieu, keyboard and pen!

I believe in dreams. If you have a passion and you’re willing to do what it takes to achieve your goals without crossing moral boundaries, then do it, and do it with your might.

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