I’m hungry for a deep talk about meaning in writing—about why, and a little about how, books impact you and I. If you want to join our conversation, please leave your thoughts in a comment at the bottom of this post.
Authors who have taken me on deep journeys to far places of great import include Patrick Carr (Shock of Night), Tessa Afshar (Land of Silence), JRR Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Anna Thayer’s (Knight of Eldaran trilogy) to name a very few.
I’m hungry, not for a fast read, but a complex world that is so real it scares you, enthralls you, lifts you out of yourself to a higher plane. And then when you return to your own world, you bring that life experience, that bravery, that truth, back with you and apply it, even in some small way, to yourself. You make that sacrifice required for the life of another, face down your fears, take the next step on a dangerous journey, or simply do the right thing, which we are sometimes such great cowards about doing. At the least, you see through other eyes that another road is open to you.
In author lingo—seize the hero’s journey. For it has certainly seized you, if you draw breath in this world. The battle is on!
In every true hero’s journey, the hero or heroine never makes it alone. First we need our Creator, who bridged the gulf between us, then mentors, companions, friends, teachers, and good relationships of all sorts. Then, and only then, we truly come alive and our training begins in earnest. As our training goes, so goes the lives of those people we authors write about, even if only by extrapolation. As for those who do not write on paper as authors, your write your story on the hearts of men.
So dig deep in past experiences and in books, fight the good fight, pray for courage to face the morrow if things are looking dark, and lift your sword high. So we are fitted in some small way to write and to live what we have seen and imagine of our own and other’s failures, victories, and growth.
Write deep, write true, write well, for your reader and yourself, and always write and live first before your Creator. And if you’re a reader, live deep, live true, live well, for yourself and someone who may someday write about you.
I do realize that “writing or living for both yourself and others” appears to hold a stiff contradiction. But I believe there is a path that treads between, yet touches both. For if you serve one without the other, both can become pitfalls. If you serve your reader alone, you will most likely end by betraying what you know, believe, and love. If you serve yourself alone in your writing, it will become dark, dull, and stale, not to mention hard to read. Living for yourself is self-explanatory.
Why is that? If life in its multitudinous outpourings comes from our Creator, anything we shut him out of (as much as is possible to us) begins to die. People who write stories know how much beginnings have to do with how our hero’s journey plays out, on the page and in life.
Never compromise a good beginning, or the journey is ended before it has begun. Some things are black and white. Like truth and falsehood.
Without truth there is no life, and without falsehood there is no story, at least in our world. For here, that is where conflict reigns. So take up your blade and the light, descend into the valley of crisis, be counted by our enemy in the battle, defend the defenseless, and subtly reveal the power of our Creator’s saving might. The might of the one who will not leave us to darkness without a fight.
I encourage you all, go on and write, go on and live, as he would have you, and know your words have eternal import and impact. Strive for the right words, for better craft, for life and enjoyment. What better task could a writer or reader have?
Go on, leave this post and get to it, whatever you know in your heart is your next step on the way to the goal. To write and live deep, write and live true, and write and live well.
Take courage and fight for the right, so our books and words will impact us and others for good.
Editor and Author of Historical and YA Fantasy