“I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains, and then find somewhere where I can rest. In peace and quiet, without a lot of relatives prying around, and a string of confounded visitors hanging on the bell. I might find somewhere where I can finish my book. I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days.” | Bilbo Baggins | The Fellowship of the Ring
Oh how my soul resonates with Bilbo’s words at times! A quiet retreat where I can finish my novels sounds incredibly grand. But alas, “real-life” comes a-calling. Said tongue-in-cheek because “real-life” isn’t half so bad after all 🙂
I don’t remember when exactly I first fell in love with writing but I do remember writing my first short (very short) story in 5th Grade. It was for a writing contest my school participated in each year and my teacher encouraged us all to enter. I didn’t really think I had any writing talents but I tried my hand at it anyway and the result was something I don’t even remember. Something about a white sheet hanging on a line or maybe it was someone’s face turning white as a sheet….ghosts come to mind…. Anyway, everyone was impressed. My teacher, my classmates. They kept saying my short story was really good and I didn’t get what they were all going on about. But the one thing I did know for certain was that I had enjoyed it. I had enjoyed writing that short story which has since faded into oblivion. So year after year, I wrote a short story and entered it in the Creative Writing contest. Sometimes I won awards and sometimes I didn’t but quite frankly, the awards meant precious little to me because the process of writing really spoke to my soul…and still does. I’ve since learned to value accolades more (’cause hey, praise and affirmation from others is good for the soul too as long as we don’t let it go to our heads…easier said than done, I know 😏) but that’s not really the reason I write.
I write for my Saviour and I write because I can’t help writing 🙂
As I grew older, the ideas for a full-blown novel came to mind. I think it was in 6th Grade that The Refiner’s Fire first began taking shape for me. It wasn’t called The Refiner’s Fire and it went through several name changes before I settled on that one but the main idea has remained the same. A small town where a group of teenagers figures out what it really means to live. To endure. To forgive. To love. To believe the Most High. Now, I didn’t start out with those particular themes firmly etched in my mind because Christ hadn’t saved me yet when the ideas first took root but the seeds were there. I think I still have the first notebook I wrote in and it was something about rich kids moving to a small town and they didn’t want to go. Back then, the story was going to be told from the rich kids’ perspective but I grew up, Adonai saved me, I experienced a few things, and realized that a story from the perspective of the kids in the town AND from the rich kids’ perspective would be LOADS more interesting.
And so here we are. Kinda.
RF isn’t completely finished. Well, the first draft is and I did a little victory dance when it happened last year, yes I did 🙂 But I’m editing the second draft and as if that wasn’t enough work, I got distracted and started writing another book too. Oops. But it’s not the first time that’s happened and it probably won’t be the last 😛
So why do I write? Why am I so passionate about writing novels and short stories? About sharing things on this blog?
I think we’re losing things as a society. Morals, yes, but also the ability to remember and to learn from the past and to glean insight and encouragement from others’ experiences. I write because there are worlds just waiting to be explored and it’s often in those worlds that we can see Truths we wouldn’t otherwise see. For example, in Lord of the Rings (sorry, you knew this was coming….), themes of sacrifice run rampant. Sometimes we can’t really get a handle on what sacrifice means in “real-life”. We struggle to wrap our minds around it even though we know and believe that the Saviour sacrificed Heaven and Glory for life with us mortals and His own life so we could be set free. We know that but we don’t really believe it as much as we should to our shame. So when Frodo chooses to give up his cozy hygge-esque life in The Shire and embark on a perilous quest simply because he believes it’s the right thing to do, well, sacrifice kinda starts to hit home a bit more.
There’s a meme that says “if Frodo can get the Ring to Mordor, you can get out of bed” and it’s true. If he could traverse hundreds of thousands of miles, braving horrors, betrayal, evil in many forms, loneliness, and all sorts of peril, we can get out of bed on a morning or do that hard thing that needs doing. Although it’s a fictional story, it really helps you put things into perspective if you’re willing to listen to the lessons woven throughout its pages 🙂
That’s why I love love LOVE creating stories. To highlight Biblical truths that perhaps we wouldn’t otherwise take to heart. I’m not doing this point justice so I’ll let JRR Tolkien, The Man, The Myth, The Legend himself, explain it 🙂
“We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God…Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour.” | JRR Tolkien
I’m currently reading through CS Lewis’ Reflections on the Psalms and he states it this way: “Whatever was true in Akhenaten’s creed [an ancient Pharaoh who pioneered the belief of monotheism in Egyptian culture] came to him, in some mode or other, as all truth comes to all men, from God.”
Since the Most High is the Author of Truth, or more accurately, He is Truth; any truth I channel into my writing comes from Him. I’m an Image-Bearer, as are all humans whether they accept it or not, and so I reflect, albeit VERY imperfectly, facets of His character. And that’s one of the things that fascinates me about writing. There’s LOADS we can learn from novels, even novels written by unbelievers. For example, sacrifice. I know I touched on this a bit earlier but let me briefly look at it through the lens of a secular work: The Hunger Games. Rubbish writing [sorry, Suzanne Collins….] but even here lessons can be learned. I remember talking with a friend shortly after I read the trilogy nearly 10 years ago. She pointed out the themes of sacrifice which run throughout the books and how they point back to the Greatest Sacrifice of all. I was a little shocked because I hadn’t noticed those themes really at all. What makes Katniss’ “I volunteer as tribute” so poignant and heart-wrenching is that she’s volunteering to take the place of her little sister. She’s volunteering to potentially die so her sister can most definitely live.
It’s crazy when you think about it. The only reason Katniss’ actions mean anything at all to us as humans is because of Jesus Christ. We wouldn’t understand what sacrifice truly means if He hadn’t sacrificed His own life. There’s something deep within us that comes alive, however briefly in some of us, whenever we hear stories about sacrifice. I think it’s because He’s placed eternity in our hearts as it says in Ecclesiastes. There’s so much of Him stamped on our consciences that we react to certain things in spite of ourselves.
So much Truth can lie between the pages of a book which is why it breaks my heart (like seriously, I die a little inside), whenever I hear someone say “oh I don’t read” or “I’ll just wait until the movie comes out”. Even more so when it’s a professing Christian who utters those words. I understand that reading doesn’t come easily for everyone but I firmly believe that it’s a skill that can and should be cultivated even if you only read a few books a year. A few is better than none 🙂
“Fairy tale does not deny the existence of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. It denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat…giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy; Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.” | JRR Tolkien
Ah, this quotation embodies why I write the kinds of stories I write. One of my pet peeves with modern “Christian” fiction is its irritatingly un-Biblical and unrealistic tendency to shy away from the more unsavoury bits of human experience and to elevate (to an almost-idolatrous level) romance, marriage, and the like. As an aside, ladies, a devastatingly handsome rogue with muscles of super-hero-like proportions is not going to visit you in a field while you’re harvesting corn or at your workplace while you’re slaving over paperwork and charm you with his lopsided-yet-heart-melting grin as he anticipates your every need and whispers sweet nothings in your ear…. I could go on but I think that’s fodder for another post haha
Like Tolkien emphasized, good writing doesn’t wink at evil or avoid speaking of it altogether. It faces it head-on, like a solider, deals with the ugliness but it doesn’t stop there because to highlight wickedness without pointing to Hope is cruelty of the highest degree. Without sorrow and pain and evil, we wouldn’t know peace and Joy. Stories should ALWAYS give a glimpse of the Joy beyond the walls of this world. The Most High didn’t show us our sin and then leave us there to wallow in misery with no way of escape. He provided Light at the end of the tunnel. Life in the face of Death. Hope when no hope was to be found. And that’s what I try to do with my writing, however imperfectly and shakily. Life’s no picnic. The real world under the Curse is threatening to swallow all of us alive because the Enemy is real and he’s nothing to be trifled with. We’ve gotta face that reality squarely in the face, with courage and honesty, which is why I don’t shy away from exploring darker themes in my novels. Granted, one needs tact and discretion and taste because not all evil needs to be explored and there are limits.
But the Joy! Oh my lanta, the Joy at the end is what makes it all worth it. Which is why I always end my novels with Hope. Not everyone makes it to the end unscathed. Some of my characters don’t even make it to the end at all and quite a few of them don’t become Christians when the novel reaches its conclusion. It’s not always about having the happy ending because truly happy endings don’t come in this mortal life in the Shadowlands.
So that’s why I write, lovely humans, that’s why I’m so passionate about sharing things through written words. It’s a writer’s life for me and I really wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂
| We’re in a War, my friends, and we all need Courage on the Front Lines ❤ |