Why write? Aren’t there more important things to do with your time?
I will admit that I have asked myself this question many times. As a young person, I have my whole life ahead of me. The decisions I make now will likely affect the rest of my life, guiding who I become and where I go. I want my life to have meaning and purpose, to accomplish something. Ultimately, I want to live a life that glorifies God and honors Him. I want to be where He wants me and where He will use me.
So, what is so important about writing?
I believe that what we read often shapes how we think and who we become. Growing up, I wanted to become like the heroes I read about. Of course everyone wants to be a hero and save the world, but it was more than that. :) I did not want to just accomplish heroic deeds (though that definitely was a part of it), but I knew that heroic deeds were the result of a character cultivated in peace as well as war. A hero is not only a hero while slaying the dragon and saving the day. The heroes I admired possessed the same selfless qualities while tending the farm or watching their sheep, long before the dragon showed up on the scene.
I wanted to be like those characters, not only in the moment of danger, but in the rest of my life too. Aragorn, Frodo and Sam, the four Pevensie children, and a host of others inspired me by their bravery, faithfulness, and hope. By their willingness to take a stand while the world crumbled around them. To lead when others fell back.
I find it interesting to note the differing trends in fiction writing. Forgive me for a rather generalized statement, but I have noticed that books written in the late 1800’s and earlier 1900’s presented main characters who exemplified character qualities including courage, a good work ethic, honesty, integrity, and a determination to do what was right regardless of the consequences. Sometimes these characters seemed almost too perfect and thereby less believable, more fantasy and less real life.
However, while modern fiction delights in presenting “realistic” main characters, warts and all, at times, it seems to glorify in the warts more than anything else. Often, not only are the warts glorified, they are exaggerated and extolled as virtues.
I found an extremely interesting article about the Twilight Saga on the Speculative Faith blog in which the article author, Amy Timco, mentioned the danger inherent in the truly sickening glorification of the twisted love between the two main characters Edward and Bella. The article sparked a host of comments and disagreement. I have not personally read these books and have no desire to do so – I’ve read more than enough reviews/articles on the subject matter to steer me far away.
But the article set me thinking. Why would we want to fill our minds with these ideas? Does no one see the danger in it? The people or characters that are presented as role models must be worthy of such a position. This is especially important in the case of young pre-teens and teens. The Twilight Saga is marketed for ages 12 and up. But are Bella and Edward good role models for young teens?
My goal is not necessarily to spark a Twilight argument in this post, but rather to point out the importance of good books that present characters and plots worthy of becoming a child’s (or teen’s) role model.
If it is true that what we read shapes how we think and often who we become, than what we read becomes critically important.
That is why I write. That is why I think that writing is important.
There are far too many books available that present twisted and warped views of the world. No author can write without a bias. Our worldviews are a part of who we are, bleeding into the story to form the unseen framework and foundation of plot, character, and theme.
Books can have a huge impact. The very nature of a story provides the opportunity to present either truth or falsehood in a unique and often more accessible form. Like any tool, writing can be either extremely dangerous or extremely useful. A sword possesses no power in and of itself, but in the hands of a wielder it can be used for either great good or great harm.
I write first of all because I love to. I believe that God has gifted me and I want to honor Him with that gift. But I also write because it offers me a chance to present truth within a compelling story and perhaps impact the reader, in however small a way.
Teens are going to read books. The question is: what are they going to read?