Monday, May 02, 2005

Writing and life

Yesterday I started reading Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancy. It's a good book and provokes a lot of thought. He offers one of the better treatments of doubt in Christian life that I've read. More about that another day.

Today, I want to share a quote that just jumped out at me.
"The stance of the evangelical tradition — one person seeking God alone, without priests, icons, or other mediators — peculiarly fits the temperment of the writer. ... in the end I must sort things out in solitude, introspectively, with blank sheets of paper on which to record my thoughts. This creates its own hazards, for the Christian life is not meant to be lived by a person sitting alone thinking about the Christian life."

It seems to often go with the territory that writers are observers. Dorothy Sayers talks about this in her novel Gaudy Night. Being able to distance oneself from the action allows a writer the distance to see more objectively, but that very distance can keep a writer from being an active participant in life.

On the way to work this morning I was listening to Phil Keaggy. He has a song called World of Mine. He sings "Standin' on the corner, watchin' as the world goes by; Sometimes I connect and sometimes I reflect and cry; to see myself in a wounded heart, and be of help if I can do my part, to be a flicker in this fallen dark world of mine."

I think too often I'm the one standing on the corner and watching the world go by instead of being the flicker of light to the fallen world. It's easy to sit in front of my computer and think about how people live and try to write a story about it. It's harder to go out into the world and be involved in it.

In my writing life, it's not so hard to write a story, but then to send it out somewhere — that's harder. That means it's going out beyond the circle of my little writer's group that generally praises my writing. Someone else just might read it and consider it absolute dreck. (I don't think it's dreck, but I'm not a terribly experienced writer and I suspect it shows.)

But writing for just myself has limitations. It can help me clarify my thoughts, but it can also be a self-reinforcing exercise. Without feedback from a disinterested party, I really don't know what I need to do to improve my writing. I can get some sense of what's lacking by reading other people's good writing, but that's still not a critique of my own work. If God wants me to write, and I think he does, then he wants me to do the best that I can and that can only happen with some feedback from editors or other writers who aren't afraid to tell me what works and what doesn't.

So this morning I sent a story off to Infuze Magazine (an online mag). We'll see what the marketplace thinks of The Long Way Home.

There's a lot of food for thought in Yancy's book. This is just some of it.

1 comment:

Linea said...

That is a great book. Seems that no matter what I read of his, I hear things that touch my particular situation. helps to know that I am not alone at least.