I first got into writing because I loved books. I loved narrative. I loved the journey of narrative. I loved words. I loved how words would shape a world—the world of a novel. I loved getting absorbed by it all. I wanted to imitate it. When I first started to write, my attempts were but poor reflections of my favourite authors (think Enid Blyton crossed with Lucy Maud Montgomery and a bit of fairy tales thrown in). I wrote my first “book” when I was 10; my second when I was 13; my third when I was 15 (all of these disasters are too embarrassing to ever see the light of a publishing hour). I biographed my life at 14. I waxed (and waned) poetic at 16. And then I got into the creative writing course at the University of Wollongong.

Why did I write? I wrote because it was fun. Because it provided an outlet for my daydreaming habit. Because I loved to tell stories and get lost in the whole narrative process. Because it was fun.

And it's still fun. But I find I have different priorities. I have different reasons for writing. Over the years I've come to develop a kind of “creed” statement for my writing. Here it is:

(NB: I am indebted to Greg Clarke for some of this material.)

Writing images

1. God, the Writer

God's word is powerful. By his word he created the world and by his word he sustains it. His son is his word in the flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Our God is a God who writes—not just the Bible through human agents—but the very finger of God is said to have etched out his commands on stone tablets in Exodus 31:18 and now continues to write his word on tablets of human hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). God chose to preserve what he wanted us to know—what he wanted to communicate to us—in written form (epistles, Psalms, law, prophecy, history, etc.) And, when God created the world and made us in his own image, he also gave us the gift of writing to use for his glory.

2. Permanence

"Writing ... [is] words that stay,” says one of the characters from The Dark Crystal. The written word has a certain permanence that transcends time in a way that the spoken word does not. Through writing, a student in 21st century AD can read what Herodotus wrote in sixth century BC. Writing enables us to preserve and store the things we want to remember—biographies, diaries, scribbling appointments on calendars. We should be mindful of this permanence and use our words with care (in our technological text-filled age, we have grown far too casual).

3. The Ministry of Writing

Writing is a word ministry. Writing is a tool by which God can achieve his master plan of bringing everything into submission under Jesus (Ephesians 1:3-10). Part of this will involve evangelism. Part of this will involve edification—the ongoing process of conformity to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). There is power in the written word to shape people's belief. If, for example, you believe Moses, you would believe Jesus for Moses wrote of Jesus (John 5:46-47). There is power in the written word to teach, rebuke, correct and train in righteousness (1 Timothy 3:16). Though much of this has been done in nonfiction genres, much of this could be done in fiction genres. But that is the subject of a whole other article.

Christians who write are fellow workers in God's master plan. Therefore, evangelism and edification should be the primary focus for Christian writers. This does not mean that one should not write for fun or self-expression; it's just that I think writing's primary purpose should not be self-expression. We are called to be servants, not self-serving.

This means that Christians who write cannot and must not write without considering first his/her audience. The author is not dead because God is not dead; as his intents and purposes shaped his word, so must ours, as his creatures. To write without object is futile. Love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27) and let that love dictate not just what you write but how you write it. For people matter more than words; words are slaves to people.

Christians have been given the deposit of God's revelation. Therefore, adding words—or even taking words away—is a dangerous kind of activity (Revelation 22:18-19). We want to be keeping in accordance with the Scriptures, not moving away from them. We have a responsibility to accurately represent the truth and not just make stuff up. We don't want to delude people with “plausible arguments” (Colossians 2:4)

Being a writer is not an identity, it is an occupation one engages in every now and then. I am not “Karen the writer” with letters to prove it before or after my name; I am “Karen, who writes, and writes quite badly from time to time, but, every now and then, pens something worthwhile”. Our identity is found in Christ, not in writing: we are children of the living God, chosen and adopted before the creation of the world to be his heirs and to bear the likeness of his family. We are members of his body—members of his church—and upon us he has bestowed the gifts, skills and passion to write.

Let us use it, then, for his glory.

This article first appeared in The Page, an ECU Wollongong publication.

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