Writing is more than just a hobby, something you do for fun and entertainment.
Writing is not just a way to pass the time.
Writing is a responsibility; an aspect of the craft I’ll admit I hadn’t thought of before I began.
- accountability: the state, fact, or position of being accountable to somebody or for something
The pen is mightier than the sword, Napoleon said. And he was right; he was more right than he knew. When a writer takes up a pen (or a pencil, or Microsoft Word) he is not merely writing for himself. Someone else is going to read this; someone else is going to be influenced by it. You have a responsibility to portray what it is that you believe in; what it is you want your reader to believe in.
Some authors declare ‘it’s my world. I can do what I want.’ But as a Christian, I have to disagree with that statement. Why would we write about something we neither condone nor believe in, for the sake of ‘creativity’? I know of some authors who are Bible-believers who write things they would never, ever do, say, or condone in real life. Witchcraft as good is an especially large issue for me. It’s what stands between me and the Harry Potter books, me and the Merlin TV series – no matter how much I want to read/watch these, I wouldn’t because I believe that witchcraft is evil. If I am going to write about something that God declares as an abomination, then it will be just that – an abomination.
C. S. Lewis had a famous witch in his books. She was the villainess, not the heroine – and therein lies my point. Authors hold tremendous power with the ideas, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and beliefs swirling through them, begging to be let out for others to read. Evil is not ‘good’ simply because we as authors want to take liberties. Black does not become white because we choose.
J. R. R. Tolkien stated in his essay “On Fairy-Stories” that
“Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.”
We have a right to create, because we were created. We have a right to reach for higher things, the ethereal things of heaven and eternity and love, perfect things that God created. We have a right to exploit and explore. It’s a way we have of dealing with the weightier issues we all struggle with, and so we re-create it time and time again, taking it apart and viewing it from different angles – and doing so, we bring the reader into our minds. They observe what we observe. If we take an issue off the dusty shelf and question it, then our reader is drawn into the question.
We cannot simply write whatever comes into our heads. It doesn’t work that way, not for us. Writing is a battleground, and we must choose which side we’re on. There is no Switzerland. If you believe something, proclaim it. I personally have a strong faith in the triune God. I belong to no denomination except that I believe what the Bible says. But in today’s world, extremes are shied away from. If you believe something, you should walk on eggshells and not be too pushy about it. You should tolerate everything and proclaim nothing too firmly.
It’s in this sort of society that we have to take a stand. If we are certain of our faith, then we must leave the reader with no doubt about where we stand. If we believe something strongly and unfailingly, then our characters, our plot, our story will proclaim it. If the reader walks away wondering where we stand, what we believe, who was truly good and who was evil, then we, as authors, have failed miserably.
This is neither an annoyance or a hardship; in fact, our faith should bleed through our ink like blood. It should inspire, proclaim, declare the glory and wonder of God. It shouldn’t be our second nature, it should be our first.
Does this mean that every story has to be dull and religious, something that would have been solemnly intoned from a pulpit four hundred years ago? Of course not! God is love and light and glory and joy. My faith – I hope – shines through what I write, leaving no questions, no ‘gray areas’ – no matter what I explore, question, or exploit.
And I hope that when I get to the gates of Heaven, rather than being accused of leading people astray, He will say ‘well done, thou good and faithful servant.’ And I will know that my responsibility and joy as an author was complete.
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. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall.