Deep POV: Confessions of a Christian Writer

The ramblings of an emergent-realistic-edgy-working-for-God-and-the-pay-isn’t-that-great-sometimes-confused-christian-fiction writer (uh, that would be me).

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Short Stories

Okay, begin mini-rant:

In the world of writing, contests and places where a writer can get something published (in this case, something fictional) are largely limited to short stories. If you read through any list of contests or opportunities available, you'll find an abundance of places where the short story writer can submit his/her work. In fact, the venues available are staggering. A novelist, though, has far fewer opportunities. Of course, no one except a book publisher is interested in publishing the novelists work--that make sense. But even contests are largely geared toward short story writers.

I'm sure that's because people want what they consider to be an entire work rather than a sample, which you'd get in a novelist's work. I suppose that makes sense although, for me, I would much rather read the first chapter of a novel than a short story any day. For my taste, that's richer, more complex, more filled with possibilities than any short story. And, as you may have gathered, I don't write short stories. I never have. Nor do I find many of them appealing. Okay, yes, there are classics, I'm sure, and I've probably been impressed with them at some point. But right now, you know what? I can only think of one. Shirley Jackson's short story, which I think was called "The Prize." I'm not even sure about that.

I just wish novelists had more opportunities to display their work.

/mini-rant. :-)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Writing as a Christian

A few days ago on one of the Christian writing groups I belong to there was a discussion about crossing over from the CBA to the ABA. One well-known agent posted a reply that's haunted me. As I understood him, he was saying that once you're a Christian, you have a different mindset and won't be understood in a non-Christian world. And he said, the longer you've been a Christian, the less non-Christian friends you'll have, so how are you going to know how to communicate with "them"? A third point was that as a Christian writer you have a truth you want to communicate.

Going backwards, don't all writers have some truth they want to communicate? Even if you write a book about nothing, kind of like Seinfeld, you're still communicating truth as you see. And even if you don't socialize much with non-Christians, isn't that secular viewpoint on display right in front of your eyes 24/7 via television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, and the Internet?

The first point, though, I wonder about. I am writing for the general market. I made that decision because I kept wanting to go further in my writing than I knew the CBA would allow. Finally, because I was spending too much time worrying about that and not enough time just working on my story, I decided to write for the ABA/secular market. The problem I see and the thing about this agent's e-mail that bothers me, is that I find myself heading into a religious discussion sometimes when I don't need to. Or, I have a Christian character talk too Christian--the kind of language a nonbeliever does not understand. I have a spiritual thread in the story, but it isn't the story--the non-Christian character's journey in understanding his life is the main story. And it isn't as if secular writers never talk about God or speculate on "religious" matters because they do. So, I wonder...

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Christian Writing Revolution

Don't miss Mick Silva's posts on this. He has a great blog called My Writers Group. And he's posted some great thoughts on what the revolution is all about!

Thursday, October 07, 2004 Books: The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

In a post on the Word/Westbow short story contest, a commenter mentions this book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, by Mark A. Noll, and argues that evangelicals are wonderfully spiritual, but lacking in intellectualism and interest in the arts. He also argues that Catholics, Anglo-Catholics, Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, and the Reformed have much more of a tradition in this.

Interestingly enough, Barbara Nicolsi mentions this in her blog today, entitled "Rock On, Daughter of God!"

I am not sure where the truth lies. It does seem like more "religious" novelists judged to be writing classics are Catholic or Anglicans: Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, J.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis. And I don't see a lot of interest in creative/intellectual endeavors in the evangelical churches I am familiar with. There is an emergent church in my area that has a ministry established for artists, writers, musicians, and the like. So that's encouraging. Books: The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind