Question for the Writer: Who Are You?
The statue of C. S. Lewis in front of the wardrobe from his book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in East Belfast, Northern Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We will begin today’s post with a simple quote from the late great Kurt Cobain:
Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.
I have been writing something whether it be short stories, poems or now mostly novels for the better part of my life. I can remember as a teen wanting to be Stephen King, writing stories about demonic black cars (too close to Christine) but more like the B movie The Car, stories about vampires who get annoyed that a younger vampire moves into the neighborhood. Mostly they were amateur forays into my own teen age angst.
When I went to college I wanted to be like J.D. Salinger or Wendell Berry, writing from the guts of American life. I wrote short stories and poetry about the act of writing, about the human condition, and generally bored people to death with it.
When I left college I didn’t write for some time, focusing more on finding a mate, and after a long time I found the most awesome wife that God could gift me with. It wasn’t until I had my third child that I started working at writing again.
This time I was older, more seasoned, had an English degree, and had taught writing for some time in the local high school. At this point I had become somewhat of an amateur Tolkien scholar, reading everything I could find about the great writer of Middle Earth, and that led me to discover (again) C.S. Lewis.
Lewis was a Christian writer, but because he did not find a niche for his writing wrote in the secular world, writing what seemed to be secular stories, but each of them had a deeper message of faith. I decided that I did not want to be a Ted Dekker or a Frank Peretti, two writers who have had some minor success breaking out of the “Christian Market”. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of Lewis, writing secular stories that had faith based messages or themes.
I also hit upon the idea that many of the evangelical churches in America are (in my view) following a non-Christian paradigm, being soft on sin, negligent of repentance, and generally straying away from the long held tenets of the faith.
And so, my mission was born. I decided that I would be somewhat like C.S. Lewis or Tolkien, writing stories in the vein of my favorite science fiction writers (Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison) while using that genre to thematically address the issues that I hold near and dear, mainly the lamentation of my Christian brothers and sisters’ abandonment of biblical truths in favor of wishy-washy, non-committal weekend church going.
My question to you, dear writer, is “Who are you?”. Are you simply copying what you think will “sell” or are you writing from your gut, from your heart? Maybe it is time you took a long look at what you are writing, what type of thing you are writing, and figure out if it is really you. Perhaps you will find a powerful niche that no-one has grasped or attempted to write within.