Tuesday, August 02, 2005
I often wonder why I can't seem to build enough cognitive momentum on my own to drag words out of my brain and plaster them on paper or computer monitor. Maybe I'll never have an answer, but for now I'll just enjoy the stimulation others provide. A case-in-point is Dave Long's Faith*in*Fiction blog. His discussion dealing with why people read migrated to questioning why people write. In quoting Shirley Brice Heath's analysis of readers' motivations, he suggested the possibility that literary readers tend to be social isolates, retreating into the depths of their characters' worlds in preference to their own. Those same "misfits" tend to become writers, both because of the mentoring they get from their reading and because writing is cathartic. They deal with life's baffling questions through their complex characters' varying points of view and eclectic choices. All that confusion and seeking produce some brilliant fiction. But what about Christian authors, whose cosmic conundrums are answered in the person of and through a relationship with the Eternal, Self-existent One. Now that's a mouthful, but it begs an interesting question: "Since Christians have answers to all the "whys" of the universe, what's left to write about other than telling others our answers?" And in doing so our work is in danger of becoming formulaic, or worse, didactic. So, what's a happy writer to do? For one thing, even happy writers struggle with blind spots and weak areas in their lives. And as wonderful as it is to know the Author and Finisher of our faith, those of us who are honest must admit to not being privy to all the strata of His motives. While those who live by faith aren't worried about God's perfect, unique way for them, denying that they have questions about it would be a boldfaced lie. It is those persistent, niggling questions that can best provide grist for the Christian's fiction mill.