Wednesday, May 08, 2013

How can Christian writers justify writing fiction?

One of the wonderful things about being a mom of several is that I’m constantly kept accountable. As my kids get older, they ask me some very pointed questions about life, the universe, and everything ... and unfortunately, the answer of “42” just doesn’t cut it most of the time. (Sorry, Douglas Adams!)

The latest has to do with why we write what we do. At least two of my eight have a bent for writing fiction, including my soon-to-be-21-year-old son, but after an uncomfortable conversation with another writer, he sent me this.
.... I'm still very fed up with writing in general right now, I admit I still have a passion to do the stuff. But the better part of others and my own ambitions for writing is and feels so purely selfish it scares me. People talk all the time about "the message" in their book but there is so much Christian stuff that honestly fails to tell a story [or] that actually teaches some truth in a non-cliche way. How can I justify spending so much time and energy on a book when people are dying without the knowledge of their savior across the world? What is my one little fiction book in English going to profit? Writing is not a profitable thing either, it takes talent and years of name building to even make a living. Much less using that money to assist missionaries and organizations to spread the Word.
How can Christian writers justify writing fiction?
I know this same mentality could be applied to spending time for movies, and video games. But there's so much emotional energy and time in these stories. Can't that part of me better serve the Lord than just fiction writing?
I don't know, but I feel comfortable telling you this. Maybe it gives you an idea for a blog post or something. I'm considering some of this stuff very deeply. (Despite the pressure of school.)
So, blog I will. (And I'll sidestep the usual argument that Jesus told stories, etc.)

The question of ego ... any endeavor can become a snare in this area, for a Christian. Our selfish, prideful hearts are constantly looking for ways to find our validation in things we do or accomplish. I have to guard against this, not just in the arena of writing, but also as a wife and mother or anything else I do, whether it’s for myself and others.

The question of time and energy better spent elsewhere ... what does God call YOU to do? And are you responsible for the results, or just for the effort you put forth?

The question of profit ... yes, there is the issue of “providing for our own” ... but when did the amount of profit become a valid reason to choose a particular endeavor? Sure, have a day job. But for those who are wired to be creative, whether it’s art, music, or writing ... well, I’ve often said one shouldn’t write because one makes money, but because one can’t help but write.

Balance is necessary, of course. We tend to be obsessive creatures who are a bit too in love with the sound of our own voices and the works of our own hands. Maybe taking a break now and then from whatever we’re most obsessive about can help keep things in balance.

And you’re absolutely right, this does also apply to movies or video games, or any creative endeavor. People have always questioned the validity of effort and time expended on something that’s “merely” entertainment. We could take the austere view and say we should only do what’s practical—but beauty itself is hardly practical, and yet God filled the world around us with it. Then there’s the fact that even in difficult times, when most of people’s energies are focused on survival, people still seek some form of recreation, even if it’s only in sharing talk and stories while doing their work throughout the day.

You, however, have to find your own balance during each season of your life.

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