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).

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Writing from a Place of Faith

"Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar." E.B. White Posted by Hello

A wonderful writer, Mary DeMuth, said something recently on The Writers' View that I quote with her permission:
"Write from your passion. Be attentive to the whispers of the Holy Spirit. Be willing to walk through difficult places personally, holding the hand of Jesus, so that you have something to offer others. Beyond that, hone your craft. And let the pieces fall where they may."
If we write what's on our hearts, especially if it's something out of the mainstream of what's considered "normal," we risk exposure and ridicule whenever someone reads it. Face it, you cannot be a real writer unless someone reads your writing: family, friends, crit partners, or the strangers who become your readers. All of them read your words and then, guess what? They judge you. Are you foolish or wise? Saint or sinner? Proper or improper? You're baring your soul and some people won't understand you or your vision, some will have a knee-jerk reaction and label you different, strange, improper, or heretical.

As a writer, it's a risk we all take.

In my own case, the Lord led me to write about a gay Christian man in my current novel. Doing so has been an act of faith. He isn't a man coming to his senses because he finds himself with a deadly disease, which is the case in several CBA novels. Rather, the character is a successful film producer, a divorced father of two, and a devout Catholic who has also been gay since his teenage years. A man who loves God and has remained celibate as he's fought that part of himself that conflicts with his beliefs.

Even given such a characterization, this flew in the face of my evangelical background, so it became a huge act of faith to keep writing the story, to let this complex man live out his part of the tale without my interference. If I like this man (which I do), am I condoning his lifestyle? That, unfortunately, is what some people will say. Yet, the whole point of writing him has been to address the issue in a way that humanizes him so others could see him in a proper light. Gay people are people loved by God just as much as He loves me, or Billy Graham, or anyone else. Let's just agree on that one fact.

Did it work? Well, the jury is still out on that one especially since the novel is just coming to a first draft conclusion. And while this character is significant to the story, he is not the protagonist, so his impact may be lessened. He also "falls" in the novel ... he sins. It happens in almost every novel, but letting him fall might be the end of him for some. We'll see. I've had both negative and positive feedback. So, in the end, it remains an act of faith to write this, setting myself between zealots on either side of the issue when all I really mean to do is bring things back to basics: no one can begin or maintain a relationship with God if they are constantly reviled.

In the end, though, Mary has it right. I am writing from my passion. All I can do it lay it at the feet of Jesus, and see what comes of it. Like anything else, that risk is what makes it an act of faith in the first place.