My mother tells me she taught me to read when I was barely four just so I could read for myself and stop bugging her to read me a story.
That love of reading hasn’t ebbed one bit.
From fairy tales to epic fantasy, science fiction, mystery or thrillers, I’ve devoured it all. Historical novels and history in non-fiction, political science and theology have all claimed my attention.
Like many readers, I never thought I could be a writer. How could anyone come up with a good story, let alone the characters? And write it so people will actually enjoy it?
That seemed to me a gift I just hadn’t been given.
Then I became a writer, almost against my will. Beyond the Rapids, the story of a Ukrainian family, is a work of creative non-fiction, more specifically, memoir.
It was in crafting the story, in arranging it, in finding the right words and right images, that I developed a love for writing. It doesn’t quite match my love for reading, but I don’t think it ever will.
At first I thought Beyond the Rapids would be my first and last book. After it won an award, I started to think that maybe, just maybe, I could learn to be a writer.
So, I set myself to writing fiction.
That was several years ago.
As I write, I’m taking the time to learn different aspects of the craft of writing. I’m also trying to decide what I want to do with my writing.
Some write simply to entertain. They write beach reads or cozy stories that people can easily digest and get a few hours’ pleasure from.
There’s nothing wrong with that. At times, that’s the kind of book I feel the need for.
But I started to think that I wanted to do a bit more.
I thought about the books that I’ve loved the most, the ones that captured my imagination, the ones that have made the greatest impact on how I view myself and the world. The mysteries of Dorothy Sayers. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The works of CS Lewis. Kurban Said’s Ali and Nino. Random works from Jane Austen, Dickens, Ayn Rand and Brandon Sanderson.
Diverse as these authors are, I realized they have three elements in common.
The first is that they all tell great stories. Stories that can be read over and over.
The second is that they are all superbly written, examples of the craft at the highest level.
The third is they all write from their worldview. Whether they present it explicitly (Ali and Nino, and many of Lewis’ works) or implicitly (Lord of the Rings), worldview is there.
Their worldviews aren’t always the same, or ones I agree with. But by writing within a framework of worldview, they can explore how that worldview explains our world. By looking at the world through their eyes, I can see my own perspective in a new light.
Also, by writing from a coherent worldview, the authors explore how to make sense of a world that often seems senseless, or delves into the struggles of ordinary people to find meaning in their pain. They can also probe and explore complicated moral dilemmas in ways that shed light on the choices we make on a daily basis.
And I, as the reader, watch the characters grow and transform.
Nearly every writer does this, at least the great ones. Voltaire, Shelley, George Orwell, Shakespeare and Jean Paul Sartre all come to mind. We can find example after example in popular fiction, such as Stephen King’s The Green Mile, with a Christ-figure as a central character.
Different worldviews lead to different kinds of books. Most of the ones I loved so well had a Christian or Christian-inspired worldview. While many authors show what’s wrong with our world, only the Christian ones show how transformation and reform can happen. I’m not counting the ones that have autocratic government taking control. Doesn’t seem like transformation for the better to me!
Which leads me to aspire to write in all three dimensions.
To write great stories.
To write them well.
And to write them from the worldview of the Bible, to explore some of its themes, to challenge the stereotypes our culture has about the Bible and Christianity, and to glorify the giver of Faith.
Our culture seems to be more resistant to listening to what the Bible has to say about life, death and our significance. My goal is to show through fiction the truth of the scriptures that there is hope in are suffering, something worth living and dying for, because Someone died for us.
This blog is my journey of exploring. Sometimes I’ll be just telling a story. Sometimes I’ll be exploring different aspects of the craft of writing. And sometimes I’ll be looking at worldview, whether an example in something I’ve read or watched, or am writing myself.
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