I wish I could write fiction. I’ve always wanted to, but I am not a creator. I am an explorer, an observer, and an admirer of the world, and the people in it rather than a creator of a world and a people of my own. Perhaps I find writing fiction difficult because I believe God is the creator of the universe and all its laws, and our job is to explore, learn, and develop his creation by our participation in it by contributing through our various skills and gifts.
When I try to write fiction, my characters seem flat and my plot soon bores me. Real people they are so unique. They intrigue and delight me. Birds, snakes, and mules fill me with joy, and I have no trouble writing about them, their biology, habits, grace, and usefulness. Flowers, herbs, and food, as long as they exist, provide me with inspiration, so I can write about their history, symbolism, and biology and draw, paint, or mold a replication of their form and color.
Admiring and Healing
Writing for me is more an effort of attention and development. If the subject is good, writing becomes a form of description that adores and admires. If the subject is bad, writing becomes more clinically descriptive, delineating the realty and truth of the scene so to understand and correct, or repair and heal. Pretending, like fiction writing, does not heal when an injury has occurred. Healing comes from spitting out the truth of the matter, examining it, cutting out the corrupt parts, and moving ahead attending once again to the real and the good, adoring, admiring, and approving.
Approval and Weight
Anytime we give our full attention and approval to something, we increase its weight because we are essentially saying we are glad it exists. By adding our impressions through craftsmanship, we improve what we see and ourselves, increasing our own value and the value of the other. Worthiness of attention is born, deepened, and founded by God’s donation rather than his need. I am God’s choice. All creation, animals, plants, stars, moon, wind, and rain are God’s choice created out of choice, out of himself. Without faith in God’s creation and sustainment of the world, I would have to ask, “What am I for?” “What are you for?”
God’s creation of all the universe and his creation of humans out of dirt and his own breath gives us all dignity and worth. Our lives become important matters. Writing about life becomes weighty. No other view of the world can give each of us value in the eyes of the other or in the eyes of ourselves. No other world view gives us a mandate to perform work, work that looks like the work of our creator, work that is self- donating like the work of God the Father or self-sacrificing and redeeming like the work of God the son.
Making Self-Sacrifice “All the Rage”
I recently read a statement by the author of the book “Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence,” Marc Bekoff and Richard Louv, where he says we must find a way to make self-sacrifice “all the rage.” Self-sacrifice is not a new concept. In sometime around 1418 to 1427, The Imitation of Christ was written and that along with the gospels themselves spell out a self-sacrificial manner of life. Page 80 of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis, says “you will never be perfectly free unless you completely renounce self, for all who seek their own interest and who love themselves are bound in fetters.” That should be enough to start a rage, but it has mostly been rejected as a way of life by moderns. When scientists try to drum up love of nature, animals, plants, ecology, and each other in our hearts, but leave God out, the reason for the loving is gone. Other than our creation by God by his choice, we have no value. Chance provides us with no reason for being or working or loving others. Are we merely a side effect of a great explosion? Evolution provides us with no value and no reason to sacrifice ourselves. In the eyes of evolution, we are merely the combination of chemistry that survived.
Self-donation is a better description of good work. This description comes from the book written by R. J. Snell, Acedia and its Discontents, 2015, Kettering Ohio, Angelico Press.
Encouraging and Nurturing
All work, particularly the work of writing, then, comes more from taking what God has made and in words admiring it, striving to understand it and its purpose, building its meaning by adding something of ourselves, and placing it in relation to God’s other creations, and approving it as part of the beautiful kingdom; Thus, deepening its beauty, purpose, and meaning without destroying what it essentially is or stopping its development is good work. Writing that explains, encourages, nourishes, promotes, and builds is work that mimics God’s work; It is good.
Writing is only bad work when it pretends to be truth and provides misleading information that destroys, confounds, and confuses truth and damages or destroys people or natural systems of order.
Love of Fiction
I love to read fiction. I am pulled into a story by exciting plots and interesting characters. It is not like I am missing the capacity to appreciate fiction. I only find that it is hard for me to write it. I think I enjoy fiction most when it portrays something real. I am intrigued because the writer creates characters and situations that are so like reality as I know it, that I can imagine the circumstance even if I have never experienced it myself. Fiction that is not like reality does not hold me. Alien landscapes that are warped or exaggerated versions of our familiar world are not completely made up. They are altered, perhaps we could say adorned. Adornment of circumstances and people to create fiction takes some attention to achieve. To attend to the real, to create something unreal, but possible, is the fiction writers craft.