And before someone shouts, “And all God’s children said…”, let me say that if you’re a writer, you’re warped also. Yes. You. Are.
Here’s the problem we have: I can’t look at life without wondering “what if?” It happens all the time. Like last night during the super bowl…and I wasn’t even watching it! I saw a tweet from someone who said that there’d been a power outage at the dome. Immediately I wondered, ‘What if…?”
- What if it was a complex plan to harm the NFL commissioner?
- What if a group of crazed music teachers did it so they could grab Beyoncé and teach her how to sing?
- What if it happened because some fanatics wanted to prolong the NFL season due to the fact that once it’s over all they’d have left is the baseball season, and since they’re from Kansas City that means that the Royals are all they have to look forward to…and that would drive any human being to the verge of insanity?
- What if it was Bush’s fault?
- What if a distraught man was going to hold the crowd hostage until one million Twinkies are sent to an offshore bank?
- What if a rogue herd of cattle did it as a protest over footballs being called “pigskin” but actually being made of leather?
- What if? What if? What if?
Maybe I’m not able to look at life through the same set of lenses that “normal” people use, but I that’s just fine with me. There’s a whole group of “not-so-normal” people who I’m honored to know…they’re called “writers.” And they’re not afraid to ask “what if?” and great stories are born!
Great stories are timeless.
It doesn’t depend on genre, trends, or anything else. Great writing is great writing. Period. Quality doesn’t have a “use by” date. It continues to be used by God to reach new readers, years after its original publication date.
Isn’t that what we strive for as writers? Don’t we really want our stories to have long-lasting relevance? The potential for “timelessness” is one of the things that keeps me in love with writing.
As a preacher, I thrive on the preaching moment when I stand before a congregation and proclaim the Word of God. Preaching is a happening…an event. But the uniqueness of that experience is mostly a one-time thing. Recordings of sermons are great tools, but the dynamic isn’t the same. And I’ll repeat–so as NOT to allow room for anyone to suggest that I’m discounting preaching: I LOVE PREACHING. There’s an “aliveness” that surges through my soul when I’m preaching. I feel the same thrill about teaching. The church where I am privileged to serve means everything to me. I look forward to being with them each Sunday.
But there’s something different about writing. When I sit to write a story, I’m humbled anew at the vast potential that surrounds the words–potential to reach a vast number of readers, in various parts of the world, in different languages, even if they’re separated by years as well as other distinctions. And the digital revolution may just be making the potential even greater!
It’s the great “what if?” of possibility. And I can’t control much–if any–of it.
But I can have a direct influence on one thing: quality. I can refuse to settle for good writing and push myself for the best I can do, no matter where I’m at on the journey of writing. I can…I will…I must pursue excellence. That means I never stop learning the craft, because I respect it.
Because maybe, just maybe, my writing will change someone’s life. Even if it’s just mine.
The journey of being a novelist is often noted for its solitary confinement. We sit at our keyboards and attempt to give birth to a dream, a calling, a passion. We place words on a page like a painter carefully brushes colors across a canvas. It is hard work. And it is the kind of hard work that no one else can do for us. We have to write our stories.
There’s no graph in the front of any novel that charts the ups and downs the writer met during the writing of that book. And if we’ve done our job well, the reader will not think about the author when they’re nose is buried in the book and they are “in the story.” It is, after all, all about the story that God has given us to write.
One of the sources of encouragement that jolts us with bursts of energy is the opportunity to meet other writers who understand the journey. In other words, they’re as weird as we are. Some of these people are published authors, but many are still trying to get their foot in the door. I am blessed by them all in so many ways.
Friends like Joe Courtmanche, whose vibrant personality blesses me in countless ways. Joe has a blog www.commotioninthepews.com I encourage you to visit it and enjoy his wide-ranging posts. Joe is one of the most decent people I’ve ever met and I’m glad to count him as a friend. And I am confident that it won’t be long until you are reading one of his books. Another friend is Karl Bacon. Karl has written a book called An Eye For Glory. It’s an amazing book that captures a slice of time during the Civil War with characters that will grab your heart and open your eyes. Go get that book now….run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore, or download it in e-book form. You’ll be glad you did. I happen to know that he has a second book done, and hopefully it will soon be available for readers.
I mention these two good men because they represent the kinds of people who work hard to tell great stories. They, like the many great writers in Christian Fiction, are wonderful examples of giftedness expressed through humble spirits. There are others I could mention, like Deborah Raney and Nancy Mehl, who are great examples of humble stewards in the Lord’s service.
Writers, at least the ones I’ve met, are people who love their craft, love their readers, and–most importantly–love their Lord. I’m honored to know them.