Monday, November 5, 2007

Why Do You Write?

Today, a young pastor friend of mine received a diagnose of lymphoma. He only recently returned from a year-long tour of duty as a chaplain in Iraq. Now he's facing another battle of monumental proportions.

Last Friday, I received word that the son of another good minister friend of ours had been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

I spoke to my mother on the phone yesterday. Six months after the death of my stepfather, loneliness has a choke hold on Mom. She tried to join a gathering of the residents in her retirement community's parlor to watch her favorite college team, the Sooners, play football on TV, but without George there to share in the experience, she decided it wasn't worth the effort. She went back to her apartment at halftime and spent the rest of the evening alone.
So often, we writers focus on the benefits we stand to personally gain when our work is published. The temptation is to think that it's all about me. I need to be reminded that I am blessed to be a blessing. God gifts me with certain talents, not so much for my own benefit, but for the benefit of those hurting, scared, and lonely people whose lives intersect with mine.

The stories you write may have no direct correlation with your readers' real-life situation, but even through pure entertainment you may minister a healing balm to hurting souls. As you write today, try to envision that future reader who needs the comfort, encouragement, or joy they'll find in the story God has laid on your heart.

Romans 15: 4 says, For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Philippians 2: 3-4 tells us: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (If you've got time, read this chapter in its entirety. You'll be blessed and challenged.)


Mary Connealy said...

I just chose a scripture for my wip. This is a choice that's unlikely, I think, but our pastor used the scripture in church and it was like a light clicking on in my head. I jotted it down, then I pulled that piece of paper out of my pocket after church and stared at it. I couldn't remember exactly WHY that had seemed so perfect.
Then, after a few seconds, CLICK the light went on again and I remembered why I wanted it.
THEN I typed it into the manuscript and another couple of days went by without me really consulting it and I looked again and again, this weird, "Why did I choose that verse" reaction.
Oh, yeah, perfect.
This seems strange to me that the verse keeps jumping around in ... what are no doubt air pockets in my brain.
Maybe it's because that verse is for someone else, many years from now.
This comment probably has nothing to do with your post, Susan. But somehow your post reminded me that we don't see all of the meaning of what we write.
And if WE don't see it all, then we can't hope to predict how it could touch someone else.

Rachelle G. said...

Profound post. Sometimes we are bombarded with the sadness and difficulty surrounding us. You're right, we are blessed when we're given the opportunity (skills, talent) to be a blessing.

Nancy said...

I agree completely. God gives us talents - but if we use them for ourselves alone, we might as well bury them in the ground.

I've asked God for two things: that His annointing would be on what I write, and that my books would provide a "word in due season" for someone who needs a touch from Him. I want HIS voice to come through my writing, not just my own. Of course, like everything else, this is a work under development, but I truly believe that if I keep praying and trusting Him, He will be able to use me to bring words of encouragment to our readers.

Jesus used parables (fictional stories) to reveal great truth. As Christian writers, we need to ask God to teach us how to allow Him to work through us. Our writing should be more than just entertainment, it should be ministry!

Nancy Mehl

Mildred Colvin said...

I'm always amazed when a spiritual truth that I hadn't previously thought about slips into my writing. Maybe someone will need just those words. God knows who and when.
Thanks, Susan, for reminding us how important the words and thoughts we choose are and that we must allow God to speak through our writing as we give it to Him.

Jess said...

Thanks for sharing, Susan. I'll pray for your mom. Mine went through the same thing when my dad died. It's sad to watch a loved one grieve...and to know there's no way we can help them or make things easier for them. My mother loves reading--fiction and NF. If we didn't keep her in books and magazines, she'd be totally lost. Sometimes I come across a novel she's read and there will be a phrase, a sentence or a paragraph underlined, and I'll know it spoke to her in some way.

Vickie said...

Thanks for reminding us to keep our focus on what's important. In the church I used to attend, I got to know a woman who became a Christian by reading Christian fiction. That has been such an encouragement to me in my writing career. I firmly believe that God touches people's hearts through the stories we write.

Please tell your mom there's another Sooner fan praying for her. Go OU!

Lynette Sowell said...

October was a difficult month, when my husband lost his brother to cancer. He wasted so many years running from God and hard living. Thankfully, he did realize he needed to think about eternity before he died. This definitely made me take stock of my focus. I love writing, but I should love the people behind my writing more. In my bio I say that I desire to take readers on an entertaining journey and I hope they catch a glimpse of God's truth along the way. I'm getting back into the swing of writing again, and it feels good. :)

Blissful said...

This is such an excellent post, Susan - really puts the reason we write to the forefront - it's not about fame, it's about His name and how we are using the gift He gave us for His glory. God be with you and your family. He truly is the lifter of our head.

Annette M. Irby said...

Great post, Susan. Thank you for sharing vulnerably and challenging us writers to consider the person(s) we're writing for and not ourselves. We're ministering to hurting people and writing for God's glory. May He draw people to Himself as we lift up His name (and in doing so, His character).


C.J. Darlington said...

Wow. I needed to hear this. Thank you.