A while ago a book-reader friend of mine shared a link to her pastor’s blog, specifically an where he discusses the reasons for why he writes.
That prompted the question: Why do I write? Why do I have such a passion for this lonely stuff?
The confession I first must admit is that I’ve fallen in the trap of self-servitude in my writing.
Too often I’ve sought self gratification rather than use writing as an opportunity to serve. Writing is a service. It’s a service to the reader, and if done faithfully, it’s a service to God.
But it’s definitely a two-fold process. Like any othe art form, the artist/writer produces something because he simply can’t contain it inside any longer. He can’t help but write, draw, paint, labor in his craft. It is a necessity, and therefore it is very personal. So art does serve the self. But it should aim to do more than just that.
There is nothing wrong with creating art for oneself, but the moment you make it public, the moment you put it out into the world or make it commercial, then it also needs to serve others. Otherwise, how can you expect others to pay for it if they’re not getting something in return.
So there is this constant tension in creating art. This tension between the public service and the private desire of the artist.
And the funny thing is that if an artist aims to solely serve the public and produce nothing that actually pleases himself, then he’s considered a sell-out, which I agree. But if the artist uses his public work as a way of validating only himself, as a way of seeking attention or fame or praise, then he is selfish.
So what are my own motivations of writing?
I begin all of my stories, all of my fiction, as a journey for self discovery. I use most of the stories I write as a way of settling a matter in my mind. Whether it’s a conflict I’m dealing with, a philosophical question, or simply a venture into the realm of strange…
I write in order to explore. I write in order to think. My own thinking is always the most critical and careful when I write.
There have been periods of times where I put the “pen” down and abandoned writing for a stretch of time or another, and I could feel my mind going dull as a result of it.
So I write to stay sharp.
But there is also a servitude in my writing. I write in hope that my stories may cause people to reflect on God. I don’t know that my fiction will ever bring anyone to saving faith in Jesus Christ (only the Bible can accomplish that), but my hope is that my writing may cause people to stop and question their own faith and disbelief, and perhaps ask: Why don’t I believe in God? Or why do I believe in God? Is it for the right reasons?
Not all of my stories are Christian in nature actually. And the ones that don’t tackle the question of God still have a tendency to pose questions about humanity and our minds. My hope is that my stories bring readers to self-reflection, therefore making my writing a two-fold service: My writing serves me by making me think more critically about the world, and it serves the reader in helping him establish that for himself.
Other people have said that they read or write fiction as a way to escape. But escape is the last thing I want in my writing. I write because I want to engage this world, not escape it.
What about you?
Why do you read or write fiction?