As a fledgling writer, I’m fascinated by the writers of holy books, such as the Old and New Testaments.
My fascination isn’t with academic questions of authorship or inerrancy. Rather, I’m intrigued by these writers’ individual motivations and by the connection between their faith and creativity. They were real people, who while writing some of the most influential words in human history, still had to earn a living and deal with family obligations.
Did their impulse to write feel like a blessing or a burden? Were they tormented by the words clamoring in their minds? Were they terrible procrastinators or obedient scribes? Did they write out of ambition to escape obscurity? Was their writing the merest duty or a passionate act of love for their God?
Perhaps they wrote because something inside them demanded expression. Or maybe they wrote as a way to think and feel their way through a problem. Did the words pour out effortlessly or was each word a struggle?
Did they write for any of the reasons that I write?
In college I wrote for pleasure as a student, newspaper reporter, and literary magazine contributor. After college, I mostly stopped writing. I scrawled sentences on pieces of paper and immediately threw them away. For a long time, I ignored the words that came unbidden to me.
Then I read this advice from that unlikely theologian, Stephen King, in his book “On Writing”: “If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?”
So now I write. Early in the morning, the ideas begin playing in my head, before my rational mind takes over and ends recess. I rush straight from my bed to my desk and capture the words on paper before I lose them. And before I start worrying about the possibility of failure.
For me, writing is an act of faith. I try to believe that God actually does want me to write. I try to tolerate the tension between my artistic vision and my flawed rendering of that vision. On bad days, I am unfaithful to the call to create. On good days, I suspend disbelief just long enough to cross the gap between the inspiration in my mind and a blank computer screen.
I’m not certain if writing will be my main work or something that fits into my spare moments. I am certain that I regret the words thrown away in the past. They were seeds that could have grown in better soil. Now, though, writing has become an offering, a sacrifice, an ark to carry me forward.
We can glorify God the maker by being makers, whether of art, furniture, food or whatever inspires us. Like the ancient writers of scripture, we can bless others with what we have made.
So I will make metaphors and craft sentences and build poems. By doing the work God gives me, I hope to grow a more muscular and vigorous faith.
Jen Wilson is one of The Star’s Faith Walk writers. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.