Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Journal of a "Novel"-Entry 25

On the Spiritual Exercise of Writing this Novel

"I believe God created me for a purpose ..... but he also made me FAST. And when I run, I feel His pleasure." - Eric Liddell, as stated in the film "Chariots of Fire"

It is a good moment to react to some comments posted to my last Journal entry by my cohort/fellow artist/twin brother, Duke Altum, who points out that this blog is about literature generally, and can be related to the writing of literature as much as to the reading of literature. I appreciate that observation because most of my contributions to the blog have been more about the former than the latter, but hey, that's me.

The above quote from Chariots of Fire (which Duke will no doubt appreciate) more or less expresses my idea of the spiritual value or the spiritual exercise of writing the story I am currently writing. I am not entirely sure of my specific purpose for having been created, so I can't say it's NOT to write fiction. But I do believe God knows what my purpose is, and that He has one for me. I'd say one of them, if there can be more than one, is to be a faithful father and husband, which I try my best to be. There could be others, and possibly writing books is one of them. I guess we'll find out.

But to Liddell's point from the film, in addition to my role as a Dad and husband, I think God gave me specific talents, and writing is unquestionably one of them. That's not arrogant, because it's a matter of how much I have, and I am not sure I have very much - but I have SOME. Let's just be honest about that. The challenge for me is to develop whatever talent I have to the highest degree possible, and turn that talent into something specific and of value to someone, anyone. That's what the last 16 years have been all about for me in some respects. And that is the work that I am currently engaged in. it's a long road, but I am committed to it. If I wasn't, I would not have wasted my time, whenever I have had it, trying to learn to write good stories for much of the last 16 years - close to half of my life.

So when I am griding through a piece of writing - as I surely am doing now - it is best for me to try to remember the lofty goal of trying to make the most of one's talent for God's glory. I am not saying I think of that very often when I am writing. But I do think that when I remember to think about it this way, it helps me stay the course, and it gives my efforts some purpose where most of the time it is easy to feel that there is none. Consider the odds of gettting a book published, what people feel will "sell", and all of that. Why does a feldgling writer keep at it in the face of such overwhelming odds against his success? For non-Christian artists, it is hard for me to answer that question. For me, it has a lot to do with trying to fulfill God's hope, in one sense. Although God loves me unconditionally, one has to feel that when He gives us talents, in a certain sense He becomes filled with a kind of "hope" that we will deliver on them. He invests in us, and like all investors, He expects to receive a return. He knows that it is possible that He won't, and yet He still makes the investment.

Hemingway once wrote that a writer must "face eternity" every day when they sit down to do their job. He didn't mean the comment to be spiritual in nature, and yet by the very language he used, it is. For me, the prospect of facing eternity has something to do with this idea of attempting to give God some return on His investment. God is eternal and will hopefully take eternal pleasure in what we do with our lives. If I end up writing this novel, or another one, or a great story, or anything that could be considered a success on any terms, I hope God will feel that his investment was rewarded. Or, if I consistently try and fail, but remain committed to developing my talents until God decides to take me back, perhaps I have will also have done my job. In the eternity of God's "retirement" - the age that follows Christ's triumphant return - perhaps God will enjoy some of the spoils of my labor. I hope so. To honor him in writing is my prayer. I may not always act or feel that way, but so let it be written here by me, so that it may one day be be done for Him.

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