May 31, 2013

Inspired Writing Vs. Disciplined Writing - Shirley Williams

We're pleased to have Shirley join us today as our Guest Blogger here at InScribe Writers Online.

In writing circles there has always been the question of: Shall I write only when I’m inspired and in the mood? Or shall I discipline myself to write, whether or not I am inspired? These two methods seem to battle against each other in the artist's mind as they consider the best possible outcomes.

I once believed my writing was only effective or passionate when I was inspired or moved by an experience. I would rush home to my writing tablet or computer and write everything down that I had just experienced and felt, including the life lesson learned, etc. It was still fresh in my mind, still pumping in my veins and I had to get it out on paper to share with the rest of the world! Some of my best writing has been produced this way, because I 'stayed in the moment' with my experience and got it all down on paper. The passion or 'life of the story' was captured because it was written down immediately with all the fresh details, thoughts and emotions entailed!

In contrast, I have attended numerous writing meetings with our local writers group and have gone tired and overwhelmed (mom of autistic child) and have thought, “ I don’t think I can even participate today, I’ll just be inspired by everyone”. Lo and behold, as soon as the first writing exercise is presented, there I am along with the other ladies frantically writing and always finishing last (hoping for more time to finish my piece!) I am amazed that my fatigue melts away as I begin writing with the others and it equally surprises me, as to the quality of 'new' writing produced in a mere 10-15 minutes!

I have to laugh at myself because I have always thought that I just enjoyed writing when inspired, but from our writing class I have discovered that, “Yes, great writing can also come out of disciplined writing time.” My realization of this truth about being inspired or a disciplined artist was further validated by an article I read recently by Tchaikovsky. Though he refers to music in his letter, it can be applied to all of the arts, including writing. I hope that you find it encouraging too!

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote to his benefactress, Nadezhda von Meck, dated March 17th, 1878, (found in the 1905 volume The Life & Letters of Pete Ilich Tchaikovsky (public domain):
Do not believe those who try to persuade you that composition is only a cold exercise of the intellect. The only music capable of moving and touching us is that which flows from the depths of a composer’s soul when he is stirred by inspiration. There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest does not always respond to the first invitation. We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavoring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.
From my own experiences of writing 'In the Mood' and writing 'Disciplined', I can say that I realize it is not an all or nothing option. I think that both can be accomplished for different types of writing. If you think about it, does it really matter how the words get down on paper; as long as they do!

Shirley Williams lives in Barrhead, Alberta, and is happily married for 22 years to her husband, Dave.  They have two grown children: Joe and Sarah.  Their son has high functioning autism.  Shirley has written for years on the subject, as well as Christian-based poems and short stories.    Shirley belongs to her local writers group and produces local video productions, both of which she enjoys very much.  She is helping her son publish his first children’s book and is working on two of her own books: Recipes for special diets and an Autism devotional. She has a College Diploma in Journalism/Radio/TV production and enjoys encouragement ministries, nature, hiking, scrapbooking and the arts!

May 29, 2013

Writing for God's Glory - Ruth L. Snyder

This month InScribers have been asked to consider our message and our mission as Christian writers. As I thought about my writing - the "what" and the "why", Psalm 107 verses 2 and 43 seem to fit:

"Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story," and "Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the LORD."

What do I, as a Christian writer, share? What is my message? In its simplest form, my message is the story of God at work. When I write a memoir piece, this message is quite obvious. However, the story can be just as clear in a piece of fiction as my main character experiences different events which cause him to grow as a person. How-to articles may have no real "story", but I can work at putting my words together in a format that is easy to read and understand.

Psalm 107 gives many examples we can write about:

Verses 4-9 - How God satisfies us
Verses 10-16 - How God rescues us
Verses 17-22 - How God heals us
Verses 23-32 - How God guides us
Verses 33-42 - How God blesses us

Why do I write? My mission is to encourage others in their spiritual journey and urge them on to a closer walk with Jesus Christ. I consider my writing successful if it causes someone to:

1. Stop and think about where they are in their spiritual journey.
2. Desire to know God.
3. Be encouraged.
4. Become a better person.

What about you? What motivates you as a Christian writer? What and why do you write?

Ruth L. Snyder is a Christian, wife, mother, and writer. She currently serves as the Publicity Coordinator for InScribe Christian Writers Fellowship.

May 28, 2013

My Books Are Worth Buying - Bruce Atchison

Is there anything wrong in wanting to make a profit on one's work? As Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5:18 (KJV), "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that breadth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward." Is it evil to enjoy the fruit of one's work, whether it be writing or some physical task? Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 2:24 (KJV) "There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God."

I've noticed that many people tend to scorn anybody who peddles a product.  In my experience, Christians seemed the most critical of anybody trying to earn extra income. Yet the Bible has plenty to say about the value of work. The apostle Paul made tents and probably did other jobs to finance his missionary journeys. Most of the common folks were self-employed on farms or vineyards.

In our modern society, it's far more common to be hired by business people and large corporations. An increasing number of people are working for governments. Therefore, people appear to assume that wanting to earn extra money is a sign of greed.

Furthermore, because of home invasions and the alienation of citizens one from another, people are reluctant to open their doors.

Even with social networking, peddling one's wares is considered spam by some. Because of abuses by troublesome people, the public feels burned out and distrustful of everybody. This is a tragedy since it hurts honest folks who have valuable products and insights.

Since I'm not much good at anything but writing, I feel that my experiences can provide people with wisdom and an occasional good laugh. Because of this belief, I've written three memoirs. When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living With Bunnies tells of the amazing things I learned while having house rabbits in my home. They also got into quite a bit of mischief and made me smile with their antics.

Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School shows the public what life was like in that infamous government-run institution. I also wrote about the mischief which my friends and I got into.

I believe my How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity testimony is my most important work. It not only shows how easily I, a naive convert, was taken in by a false prophet but how kind the heavenly  Father was to lead me into the freedom of his love. The house church elders hurt me deeply with their criticisms. Now I know that my continuing poor vision wasn't because of hidden sin, lack of faith, ancestral sin, or lusting for good vision but so God's works can be manifest in me. I hope to comfort other wounded believers who had similar experiences and to glorify God through my testimony.

I post excerpts of my books on Wordpress and Blogspot pages. I also write about related topics and tie them to my memoirs. Not only am i entertaining readers but leading them to my book pages. Additionally, I treat customers as friends. This has led to many long-lasting friendships. Often times, these contacts give me a chance to talk about the Lord. Only he knows what will come of these mentions and compassionate replies to the troubles of others.

Bruce Atchison is a freelance writer and author of three memoirs. He's active on various social media sites. See what he's up to, or down to, on RebelMouse. He lives in Radway, Alberta with his house rabbit, Deborah.

May 26, 2013

Excellence in the Message - Bonnie Way

I spent Friday night at a literary soiree at the second annual Write! Vancouver conference. To kick off the soiree, Marc Cote, publisher of Cormorant Books, and John Stackhouse, professor at Regent College, discussed what excellence means for a Christian writer.  Most of us can point to excellent Christian writers of past centuries (Tyndall and Shakespeare were mentioned), but what does excellence mean to each of us in the message God has called us to tell?

John and Marc began by discussing excellence versus humility.  As Christian writers, we are called to both--excellence does not mean arrogance and humility does not mean that we don't strive to be our best.  Humility is an understanding of where you are in the scheme of things; even if God has blessed you with the gift of words, you need to work hard to honour that gift and to write as best you can.

Of course, excellence does not mean success.  Dan Brown's name came up frequently during the evening as a writer who is successful but not excellent.  Our pursuit of excellence may mean that we achieve excellence but not success.  Yet as Christians, we answer to God and not to man; God's definition of "success" is not the same as man's.

Nor does excellence mean that we will get noticed.  We must be true to our calling, single-minded in our pursuit of art.  Marc pointed out that if you chase the market, you will never catch up--at best, you will write what is popular today and by the time it gets published, it will be two years old.  If you follow your vision, you'll always be on time with what's inside your heart and mind--or with the message God is calling you to write.  In fact, often what gets noticed in not excellence, as in the Dan Brown case.

What is excellence?  It needs to be a function of your calling, your vocation, your message.  Marc asked how you will feel about your work once it is past revision--when your book has been published and you can't change it anymore, will you still like it?  Or will you regret not working harder on it?  However, the pursuit of excellence can also be paralyzing--a writer may never publish their book because they can always revise it.  Thus John challenged writers to be able to stand before God and say, "At this season of my life, about that message, that was the best way I could say it."

Writers are often admired for the belief in the Divine speaking through chosen people.  All creative people recognize that creativity is a gift, that moments of inspiration happen when we least expect.  At the same time, we have an obligation to carve out the time to write and to put our best effort into those moments of inspiration.  Inspiration does not equal excellence.

John challenged us to perform as we practice.  Whatever we write--long or short--should be excellent.  Don't use the excuse "it's just a tweet" or "it's just a blog post" to write something that is not excellent.  He has a small, target audience in mind as he's writing and, after writing each chapter, asks himself, "Did I reach my audience?  Did I speak excellence for them?"  For the writer, it's also important to read well; great writers learn from other great writers.

The panel was an inspiring and encouraging way to kick off the Write! Vancouver conference.  I felt challenged by John's and Marc's words to push myself further in my writing and to make sure I write what is excellent, not what is "good enough."  Their discussion remained in the minds of many writers on Saturday, as we frequently came back to the question of excellent in writing during other workshops.  And so I challenge you too, as a Christian writer, whatever the message God has given you to tell, tell it with excellence.

May 25, 2013

Obedience vs Excellence -- by Bobbi Junior

I’m reading through Leviticus these days. Once again, I’m struck by the sheer number of laws decreed by God to the nation of Israel, to be followed for generations to come.

I asked God, how could they follow so many rules and regulations successfully?  I heard him speak to my spirit: ”I never asked them for excellence. I only asked them to obey.”

Often I’m hesitant to step out and act on what I feel the Lord wants me to do because I know I won’t excel. The process of writing sometimes falls victim to this lack of confidence. My ability is modest at best. Yet he says, “Do this wholeheartedly for me, not for man.”

I'm coming to understand that when man’s ability is modest, God’s excellence can shine through. Sadly, when man’s ability is excellent, God is often pushed out of the spotlight.

God is teaching me that if I step out for him alone, if I seek only his affirmation and encouragement, then he can take me a long way as I obey. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the encouragement of others, but if I need their confirmation that my efforts are worthy, then, like a horse hobbled in a field, I’m not free to roam where God’s possibilities are waiting.

The measure is not whether I’m good enough to do what he’s asking me to do; it’s whether God is good enough to use my efforts to further his will. I know I don’t have the skills others have, and it can be a little unnerving to place my modest efforts out in the public eye for all the world to see. However, there is no doubt in my mind that God has the ability to use my efforts beyond anything I can imagine if I only obey the desires he places in my heart.  Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

To that end, I will persevere, looking not at what I might have done better, but looking forward to the crown.

While Bobbi has been writing for several decades, sharing her words in a public forum is relatively new. In 2011 her mother's progression into dementia could no longer be ignored. One day she demanded, "Someone needs to write about this!" Bobbi began to share snippets of her mother's story in a blog, and is now documenting her mother's journey in a manuscript: The Reluctant Caregiver.


May 24, 2013

It's All About HIM -- Lynn Dove

When I first started to write it was all about ME.  MY message, MY thoughts, MY writing that I wanted the world to consider and of course embrace.  I had visions of writing grandeur that saw me accept all the accolades and gain all the glory.  I would be the new Lucy Maude Montgomery, and attain all the fame and fortune of J.K. Rowlings.  Yep, it was a great dream...

But God got a hold of my life and all of a sudden I wasn't writing for ME anymore, I was writing for HIM.  My dream changed...significantly.  Now I had an eternal purpose for my writing and the "worldly fluff" I had written before was not honouring to God and I cast it way.  I literally tossed (or deleted) story ideas and half-written manuscripts in the garbage.  Now when I started to write, I was mindful of the fact that every word I wrote had to be written from the understanding that this was not about ME anymore, it was all about HIM and as such every time I penned a story or a book it was to glorify Him...not me.

As Christian writers we recognize our "calling" from God.  I have had numerous friends and family ask me why I write solely from a Christian worldview when for all intents and purposes this is a small genre in the book-selling niche.  Many try to encourage me to write more "mainstream" or worldly novels that they are sure would become best sellers if I applied myself to that market.  I smile and say to them that I am not writing for the money or fame (although I wouldn't turn down a good royalty cheque once in a while :), but I am writing to further God's Kingdom and impact the world for Christ through my writing.  It's all about Him...not me.

I am called by God to write and so I write. I told my husband when my Wounded Trilogy books, were published if one person read them and liked them, I would be happy. Well, God has greatly blessed that effort and not only have they all become best-sellers, but award winners as well!  But it has not stopped there.  God has also blessed my article writing and I am now published in Chicken Soup for the Soul - Parenthood, and several other devotional books.  I have been asked to write more articles for Christian blogs and magazines.  My blog, Journey Thoughts has followers from all over the world!  I don't take credit for's all about God...not me.

For me, writing has become an expression of praise and worship to God. He has gifted me with this talent so every time I write, I am praising Him with my gift.  I write to glorify the One who gave me the talent and the ability to write!  This scripture has become my writing banner:
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, Who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I love that!  "...strengthen you in every good deed and word."  With every word I write it's all about HIM.

Lynn Dove calls herself a Christ-follower, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, a teacher and a writer (in that order). She is the author of award winning books: The Wounded Trilogy. Her blog, Journey Thoughts won a Canadian Christian Writing Award - 2011. She has also had essays published in LifeWay magazines: "HomeLife" and "Parenting Teens", "Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith" and "Chicken Soup for the Soul - Parenthood" (March 2013). Readers may connect with Lynn on Facebook, Twitter and on her blog: Journey Thoughts 

May 23, 2013

A Mothers Day Tribute by Terrie Lynne

Although this year's Mother's Day celebration has come and gone, I would still like to take this time to pay tribute to my Mom. She is an amazing person, one of the people that I truly admire more than anyone else in my life. I literally would not be here if it weren't for her! You see, after giving birth to her second child and experiencing some complications, she was told by her doctor not to have any more children. But my Mom thought it was her decision how many children she would have and went on and had five more - all girls I might add.

Living on the farm, Mom would plant a large garden every year and raise chickens. Many times she would proudly tell us that all the food on the Sunday dinner table was either made from scratch or grown by her hand. She produced everything, from fried chicken, potatoes, peas and carrots to home made dinner buns. She worked hard, alongside my dad. I still cherish the times I would ride beside her in the big farm truck while she hauled grain. She would have me recite scripture verses and we would talk and laugh as the sun went down and the harvest moon came up.
 I remember when she nursed my dad right up until he passed away from cancer. She said she'd never marry again but, not only did she remarry two more times, she also nursed and stood by both of them right to the end, as they too passed away to cancer.
Mom had seven children of her own, but through these marriages she accumulated step children and grand children along the way. All of them still stay in touch with her because she has became their mom and grandma too.
In addition to everything else she does, my mom has found time to travel through the years, going to places like Israel, Greece, Hawaii, Mexico, Alaska and Bali.
Mom in her twenties
Now that she is 93 years old, I watch her in awe, wondering how she does it all at her age. I don't know if I would have the strength to go through and experience all that she has. It is hard to see her struggle with the inevitable effects of a body that is growing tired. I could go on and on sharing more, but I hope I have given just a little glimpse into the life of a beautiful person that means so much to me.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom! Thank you for blessing my life!

May 21, 2013

Christian Writers-Ministers with a Pen- Sulo Moorthy I a Christian writer or a Christian who writes? The question begged an answer when I attended my very first writer's conference in Edmonton in 2000. Fearing that I might sound stupid, I didn't dare to open my mouth and ask someone to clarify the difference.

However, from all what I've scribbled in my journals, posted on my blogs, published in magazines and newspapers in the last decade of my writing years, I'm convinced that I'm more of a Christian writer than a Christian who writes.

Last Tuesday, at our last writers' group meeting, I put forth the question Brenda Leyland had asked us to write about this month. At first the women didn't understand the difference between the two, but when they did, they mostly saw themselves as Christian writers rather than Christians who write. But when I poked a little deeper, some  began to see themselves slanting towards the second one.

Tina, the one, who teaches in our women's Bible study group and had written a variety of Bible course materials, definitely saw herself as a Christian writer. When asked what  her great desire to share with the readers would be, other than sharing the Gospel, she blurted out, " History and travel."

I could see the excitement in Tina's eyes when she exclaimed those two words. Being an ardent reader of history,  an expert on researching, and a teacher at heart, she'd be a great author on history and travel if she follows her heart. But for now, she's doing what she's called to do at this time- working a full time job, leading/teaching Bible study and following a Master's degree.

Another young woman, who joined us for the first time that evening, shared with us what being a Christian writer meant to her. Writing being one of her passions, she had hosted a blog site that had featured articles on everything from golf to cooking. About an year ago, she even signed a contract with a popular magazine to write a series of articles anonymously on sex related matters. Although she grew up in a Christian home, she gave little thought to God once she left home. As such, she saw nothing wrong in doing the assignments, and started working on them.

During that time, she said, something terrible happened that turned her life upside down.  Devastation drove her back to Christ and made her to rededicate her life to Him. She then tried to finish her assignments for the magazine from a more loving and Christ-like approach. But she couldn't write them any longer.  So she pulled out of her contract and gave up the opportunity of making a good sum of money and writing credits.

In order to use her talent for God's glory, she has now joined the writers' group to learn, share and grow with fellow Christian writers. As her writers' group, we thank God for leading her to our group to inspire and be inspired by the unique experience and skill she brings with her.

As Christian writers, we love to say we want to glorify God through our writing. It's our offering, we modestly declare. If we are not watchful, publication, praise and promotion can make us cross the line and make us use God's name for our glory.

I just finished reading the book Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God, and I loved what Oswald Chambers had written to a friend before he  undertook his first job as a teacher in art at a college- "Pray for me that the Spirit of God will fill me to the drowning of self and the exalting of Jesus."

Later, in one of his letter to his wife Betty, Chambers wrote from Belfast, "I speak and people get blessed. But I long to hear them say,"He made me love Him (the Lord) better.

At another time, Chamber went a step further to say, " What we are is of much more use to God and our fellows than what we do."

In other words, who we are in Christ is more important than what we speak, teach or write for His glory.

As Christian writers or as Christians who write, if we  have the same yearning as Chambers, there would be little chance for us to waver in our focus or worry about the decisions we make.

Presently a children's story for secular market is stewing in my head. If and when the story breaks through my writer's block and find it's way onto the paper and to the audience, I may transition to a Christian who writes. Until then I consider myself as a Christian writer, because that's what I write even if that writing is just for me.

May 20, 2013

Our Lives Govern our Writing - Brenda J. Wood

Don’t you hate it when the right words show up days or even weeks after you want them? That’s what happened to me at a session of Ears to Eyes, the writing/speaking class I teach. Someone wanted to know the absolute bare bones basics of preparing a message. I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember that my answer seemed inadequate, to me at least.

Weeks later, in the middle of the night, these words popped into my head. Pray, Purpose, Practice. At first I thought they only applied to the writing class but as I made notes, I realized they should govern our lives.

Whether writing a novel, raising our children or attending school for a law degree, shouldn’t prayer be the number one priority of our lives? After all, God says that we should pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NIV).

And surely, we want to walk in His purpose for our lives, don’t we? “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17, NIV)

And then what good are prayer and purpose if we don’t practice what we preach? “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:26-28, NIV)

(Mary) Flannery O’Connor said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

If we live our lives with prayer, purpose and practice, we will always be sure that whatever words show up, those words will honour and glorify God.

Brenda Wood, author & speaker
The Pregnant Pause of Grief, the first trimester of widowhood
Meeting Myself, Snippets from a Binging and Bulging Mind
The Big Red Chair-storybook for grieving children
Heartfelt-366 Devotions for Common Sense Living
God, Gluttony & You, the Bible Study

May 19, 2013

Semantics - Linda Aleta Tame

Am I a Christian writer or a Christian who writes?  I wrote a Christian novel.  Now that I've said that, I need to clarify that a novel cannot be Christian.  I know I'm being too literal, but I guess it's a pet peeve.  Only people can be Christian, so it's a novel with Christian-related content.  And yes, I'm also a Christian who writes.  I don't always write about Christianity or Jesus or faith.

Have I sufficiently frustrated you with such quibbling over this question?  Perhaps, this blog contribution could be considered Christian writing, but am I still a Christian who writes if I frustrate my readers?  You can see how convoluted this discussion can be.  It's about semantics, isn't it?

So many misunderstandings result from semantics.  For example, the whole topic of God's grace.  For many years I understood God's grace to be a believer's character trait, synonymous with having poise.  When I learned it was more about God's unconditional love and mercy, I could hardly believe how far off the mark I'd been.  God's grace is definitely not about our posture or composure, although those things can be affected by it.  His grace is something we can't earn, it's not a reward, it's a gift, freely given.  In fact it was given while we were still sinners.

But isn't that indulgence?  That God, the Creator of the universe, would pour out His undeserved loving kindness on people who don't deserve it proves the whole gospel message is foolish, doesn't it?   It's not hard to see why the grace message comes under suspicion by those who have yet to understand it.  They "stumble over the stumbling stone."  Romans 9:32 (That Jesus Christ, our Saviour, is referred to here as a stumbling stone, is about semantics too, isn't it?)

Yet, once we've experienced God's grace, once we grasp the truth of what it means to be wrapped in that lavish outpouring of His love, we are irresistibly smitten.  Our failures become as quickly forgotten as they were made evident in the light of His precious gift.  If it's foolish for me to relish in this love, call me a fool!

So, am I a Christian writer or a Christian who writes?  I guess I would say I'm always a Christian who writes, and sometimes a Christian writer.  Either way, it's important to just write if that's what we're called to do.   

May 17, 2013

WHY I PREFER TO WRITE by Bryan Norford

After a teaching session during a pastorate several years ago, an enthusiastic member asked, “Well, where is the Spirit in all this?” He assumed a message without a liberal sprinkling of references to the Holy Spirit—especially in a Pentecostal church—was not authentic.

Of course, the evident answer was, “Well, the Holy Spirit wrote the Word we’ve been discussing.” But I was not quick witted enough to call it up on my feet. Like many people, I can rarely think of the obvious riposte until some time later.

Really, thinking on your feet can be quite dangerous: how many politicians and others have been pilloried for an off-message off-the-cuff remark? Which explains why I find writing a more congenial way of expression.

Writing gives me time to think about not only what to say, but more importantly, how to say it. Taking time to find the right words is critical to ensuring I transmit correctly what I intended—realizing, of course, I have no control over what my readers “hear.”

But, alas, it still does not come out right. However hard I try. my words still fail to convey exactly what I meant. Words themselves are often inadequate, and mood can too easily and quietly insert itself into the text.

The problem is compounded when trying to pass on my faith, because it carries a higher priority. That’s where God’s provision of the Holy Spirit is essential, not only to inspire the writer, but also to enlighten the reader. After all, that’s the biblical pattern.

If, like me, you’ve felt a piece of writing is never finished—improvement is always possible—the consolation of the Spirit, the Author and Finisher of our lives, gives me assurance at some point that my writing can be released.

Unlike the Bible, our writing is not universal, but Spirit directed work will always find its audience, however few or many that may be. Our work in the Lord is never in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

May 16, 2013

Fairy Tales and Fiction - by Marcia Janson

 "Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality.  It’s a way of understanding it."  ~ Lloyd Alexander

I get a real kick out of reading fiction, particularly mystery novels. I read on the couch, in bed, on the bus or train, in restaurants or on a bench by the ocean. My body is parked in one place, but my mind enters into another realm where people are different from me and yet the same. I get to experience exotic cultures and landscapes and contemplate issues I may not choose to dwell upon in my own day-to-day life. A good storyteller has a way of nudging past surface thoughts and instilling something at a deeper level.

I remember when I was six and just learning to read. Our grade one teacher introduced us to the standard curriculum readers of the day and, once I’d got the hang of it, I would zip through them quickly and look for something more interesting to read. My mother had two ancient fairy tale books, a remnant of her own childhood. I’d noticed these large tomes sitting on the bookshelf, so one day I pulled one out to have a look and was hooked. The stories were populated with ogres, fairies, castles and dark forests – pretty edgy for a six year old and possibly the stuff of a few nightmares. Nevertheless, they opened my mind to a world beyond the vanilla-bland adventures of Dick and Jane and resonated with me in an indefinable way.

Looking back, I think the graphic depictions of good versus evil within those fairy tales hinted at something I’d sensed in the world around me. Although there was much to enjoy in life, I had intuited that all was not right with the world. Many years later, when I became a Christian, those vague intuitions finally made perfect sense. There really is another reality beyond the mundane physical world and there is an “ogre” in the dark places of the forest. Thank God there is a strong and pure hero who sweeps in and fights for us, vanquishing the nasties and overcoming evil with good.

Those fairy tales I used to read never once mentioned God or devils or Jesus Christ, but they did communicate grand truths. They refused to gloss over how things really are and may, in fact, have whetted my appetite for the greatest story ever told. That’s what I’d like to do with my own fiction writing. Wouldn’t it be grand to stimulate a desire in people to see beyond the physical realm? To create a word melody that attunes to a chord vibrating deep in the human spirit? I’m not sure how to do that, but I’ve decided to pick up my pen and get started, trusting that as I commit my writing to God, he will direct my steps.

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Photo credits: Fairy Tale book-
Forest path-