The skeletal silhouette of a dead tree against the fiery orange and blues of a western sunset; the first whisper of rain on a tin roof; the chill breath of winter wind rustling through the dry fingers of an oak tree; the peaceful milling of horses grazing in the purple twilight…
I’ve been thinking lately about what inspires me to write. Oftentimes it is something that I observe in nature, like the examples above.
I suppose it’s like an artist who sees a gorgeous mountain garbed in wild flowers, wreathed in clouds, and crowned with the glory of the rising sun and can’t help sitting down and trying to capture the beauty on canvas. I’ve tried my skill at the canvas… and frankly, though I can get a recognizable painting, I’m better with a pen and paper.
[Random note: You can’t imagine how hard I tried to find an image that fit the description of the picture I had in my head… I couldn’t, so I’m afraid the word picture will have to suffice!]
I have learned the value of listening. We like to work… and to feel like we’re working. So we tend to hurry a lot and the concept of sitting still seems lazy. But you’d be surprised at how much you can accomplish – what you hear, and what ideas come – when you simply sit in silence amidst the glories of God’s creation. His work declares the glory of His name and as a writer, who is first and foremost a Christian, I want my work to glorify His name.
Other times, inspiration is sparked by a random thought from a book I’ve read, a movie I’ve watched, a conversation, or something I’ve seen. But I would have to say that the greatest inspiration for my writing would have to be the Bible.
Think about it! The basic concepts found in most fantasy of good fighting evil or light rising over darkness, are all drawn from the Bible! And here and there as I’m reading, a verse literally leaps off the page that corresponds with what I’m writing and inspires me to keep going!
Lately, I’ve also been asking myself why I do what I do. I read things that others have written – even other aspiring authors like me who have not yet been published – and I wonder what I’m doing! Who am I to think that I could ever write anything good? I must be crazy! How could I ever even dream of being published?
At the same time, I can’t help believing that someday something will come of it. Even if I never get a single story published, I can’t help hoping that at least someone will read one of my stories and it will speak to that person like all the books I read speak to me!
Why do I write what I do? Why young adult fantasy of all things? The obvious answer would be that it is something I love. I love both writing and reading young adult fantasy! (I’m a kid at heart!) But there’s more to it than that.
I believe that fantasy offers a unique opportunity to present great truths in a new way. I know that the books I have read have in many ways shaped me into who I am. Many times it was the characters in the books I read that made me love things like courage and self sacrifice and the strength to do what was right regardless of cost.
These are all character qualities that Christ fully exhibited and we should therefore have as Christians growing to be like Him. I’ve read about them many times in the Bible. But often, it was the books I read that helped bring it down to a personal level as I saw those qualities portrayed in the characters’ lives.
Now, perhaps I was just a strange child (and perhaps I still am)! But it was enough to make me want to create stories and characters of my own. Stories and characters that reach into a reader’s heart and grab hold, that resonate within, so that the reader comes away feeling strengthened and encouraged.
I don’t know if I can do it. But I believe that I have been given a love of writing for a purpose and I want to use that love to glorify God whether that involves publication or not!
But I’m rambling now… sorry! I will simply leave you with these quotes from C.S. Lewis:
“The value of myth is that it takes all the things you know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by the veil of familiarity.”
“At all ages if [fantasy and myth] is used well by the author and meets the right reader, it has the same power: to generalize while remaining concrete, to present in palpable form not concepts or even experiences but whole classes of experience, and to throw off irrelevancies. But at its best it can do more; it can give us experiences we have never had and thus, instead of “commenting on life,” can add to it.”
Oh and as a side note: This month’s Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour is for the book The God Hater by Bill Myers. I did not actually participate in the blog tour this time, but I wanted to post the participant’s links so that you can see what everyone is saying about the book!