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, May 21, 2005

Faith in Writing


Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1
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In her book Walking on Water Reflections on Faith and Art, Madeleine L'Engle says the following:

In a lecture at Wheaton I quoted the Anglican theologian, H.A. Williams, "The opposite of sin can only be faith, and never virtue."

The creative process has a lot to do with faith, and nothing to do with virtue, which may explain why so many artists are far from virtuous; are, indeed, great sinners. And yet, at the moment of creation, they must have complete faith, faith in their vision, faith in their work.
As I am now only one-and-one-half chapters from finishing my novel, I stopped to reflect on the truth of her words. It does take faith, doesn't it? In God, in His calling, in the specific world you are attempting to create, and in your God-given skills, your ability to carry the project through from beginning to end.

Too often, people start a novel with great enthusiasm, but falter somewhere along the line--usually, in the middle. They end up setting the book aside and feel terrible that they did. I'm not sure there's a sure cure for that, a magic formula that'll make you finish what you start. It may just be every writer has some "practice" books that never get done. Or the original idea just wasn't strong enough to carry a novel. Or it wasn't organized enough to plant some great plot points in the middle that'll pull the reader (and the author) along.

Whatever the reason, finishing a book takes faith. You keep going because you believe in your vision and, even more importantly, you believe that God is walking that road with you just as He walks every other road in your life. Whenever I hit a rough patch in my writing where it seems like nothing is working and my forward motion is gone, I step back. I think, I pray, I log off the computer and go to bed. I talk to other people too, especially my crit partners. Inevitably, a light comes on and I'm shown the way to go. Then, picking up my backpack and walking stick, I can resume the book's journey (and mine) excited and refreshed. That, I think, is what faith in writing is all about. At least, it is for me!