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03 February 2012
When I was in my early teens, I used to tell people that I wrote better than I talked. At the time, I wasn’t sure I liked that facet of my personality. Being a quiet person in a culture which places high value on extroversion can be a trial, especially when you’re a fourteen-year-old girl who looks like ten. I disliked gatherings of young people because I could never think of anything to say, which was odd because I was thinking a lot of things. But I could never quite get them out. Over the years, I have learned to accept the fact that I am not a great conversationalist and have also learned to enjoy my role of listening and being a pleasant, though not talkative, member of social gatherings. Thankfully, I appreciate humor. My best place, socially, is to laugh at whoever is being funny.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about why I want to write. What are my motives? Is it something I should do simply because I’ve been told I’m good at it, that I know I’m good at it for that matter? After some thought, I’ve concluded that for me writing is not so much of a want as it is a necessity. Especially because of what God has done for me. But before I delve into that, I suppose I ought to explain why I write better than I talk.
If someone were to ask me what I thought about abortion, I might sit and stare at them for a while, then slowly and with a lot of back-tracking and rabbit-trailing, tell them what I think. Not because I don’t know what I think, but because I cannot simply say, “Abortion is wicked.” (It is, by the way.) I begin to think, “Where is this person coming from who is asking this question? If they happen to be pro-choice, how will they respond to the declaration that abortion is wicked? Do they hold to the oft-quoted and misconceived line that a woman has the right to do what she likes with her own body? If so, I’d have to point out that a fetus in the womb is not biologically part of its mother’s body. Do they believe that the fetus is not really a human being? In that case, I’d have to ask when a fetus becomes a human being in their eyes. There are a few possible answers to that question. They might say that a fetus would not be able to live unassisted outside the mother’s womb and is therefore not a human being. But then I’d have to point out that neither is a newborn baby, and to a certain extent, a two-year-old child. They might say that a fetus isn’t fully sentient. Again, neither is a newborn or two-year-old according to some definitions. Where do you draw the line? Then, assuming I haven’t set someone off on an angry rant by this time, I would have to explain my case for why ending an unborn child’s life is evil. Then they would bring up the whole rape and incest question. Then I’d have to …” well, you get the picture. When I try to formulate my thoughts, I realize that there is so much that should be said, I have a hard time knowing where to start. There are also a lot of things that don’t need to be said in order to get the point across, but how to tell what’s what at the time?
Writing is totally different. I don’t have to get it right the first time. I can spend a few hours writing my response. If I’ve noticed that I’ve rambled off on an unnecessary paragraph, I can just fix it and get on track again. The point is, the finished product in print is far more concise, interesting, and hopefully convincing than anything I could have spoken.
I also tend to think in stories. When I hear of a concept, I begin to think through how that concept would play out in real life—how people would respond to it. For instance, the love of God. What kind of scenario would illustrate God’s unconditional and self-sacrificing love? Asking that question led to the story, “Chastity.” That’s just how my brain works.
So, back on topic again. Why do I have to write? The most important reason is the fact that I am a Christian. God has made me into a new kind of person and I feel compelled to give an answer for the hope that is in me and share the truth of the Gospel. Well, as I said before, I’m not the best conversationalist. While I do not excuse myself from speaking when it is time to speak, I still feel like I can convey important things most effectively with a pen on paper, or fingers on a keyboard as the case may be. In a way, I can fulfill my part in the Great Commission through writing.
Another reason is that, well, I just have to. I can’t imagine putting aside my pen and never picking it up again. I think better when I’m writing. Somehow, the act of putting words on a page helps me understand things more completely.
I don’t know about you, but there are many books I’ve read that have influenced my life. They weren’t necessarily Christian books, either. They were books whose messages reinforced a Biblical truth that I’d learned. Only I saw it in a different way and through the actions of believable, lifelike characters. It came to life. One of those was a book called, “Soldier Boys.” I don’t think the command to love our enemies and do good to them that hate us has ever been more beautifully illustrated than in that book. (You should read it, by the way.) Another of those books is “Great Expectations,” by Charles Dickens. Through his portrayals of Miss Havisham and Pip, Dickens masterfully showed the effects a self-absorbed life can have on an individual. “The Screwtape Letters!” How do I describe the effect C.S. Lewis has had on me? I want to write books like that—books that make people think, books that encourage people in the right way, books that bring joy. I’ve always felt a little odd saying that, because it seemed so presumptuous. I can hardly put myself on the same level as a Charles Dickens or a C.S. Lewis. And I don’t. But I consider them to be my examples, something to aim for. Maybe I’ll succeed and maybe I won’t. But I have to try.
The last reason lies in what people tell me they feel after they’ve read a story of mine. Comments like, “this brought tears to my eyes,” or “that character made me laugh,” make the job inexpressibly worthwhile. It makes me feel like doing it again. So, I do it all over again whether I’m practically jumping with excitement over an idea or dragging myself to the computer out of discipline with absolutely no idea what I’m going to write next. Something always ends up on the page. Whether it’s worth reading or not is for you to decide.
So, those are my thoughts on the matter. I want you all to know what my goals are in this area. If you think about it, pray for me that I’ll stay focused and produce good work, and especially that a publisher would become interested in my stuff.
Speaking of which, I thank you for reading and commenting and telling me what you like and don’t like! It’s extremely encouraging to me that you’re visiting this page and keeping up with things. I hope I’ll have some good news about publication in the coming months. Stay tuned!