March Madness #4: Writing as Magic or Ministry

We’re different, you and I. As readers, you may love to lose yourself in a richly told romance, while today I might prefer a faith-filled inspirational story, and tomorrow a mystery.

As writers, we choose our genres based on a particular level of comfort… telling stories that may be close to our hearts or based on our knowledge and experience, or our desire to master a challenge. How we get those stories out of our heads and onto the page is a unique process for each person. Why we do it and what we accomplish may be equally unique. For many there is an element of creative magic that is intoxicating.

“Writing is magic, as much as the water of life
as any other creative art.”

[Stephen King]
 

Bud

Those of us who are Christian writers sometimes question the validity of our calling to write if we’re drawn to produce secular instead of Christian fiction. We may think it’s frivolous to write something that doesn’t intend to convey an inspirational message, or at least a message of significance.

It’s an attitude that can spill over into other daily activities and even our careers. However, I truly believe that any task done with passion that attempts to bring beauty, help or healing, is a calling… a legitimate form of ministry. At first glance some writing may appear only to entertain but will still have a purpose — providing a brief escape from the mundane, or showing how characters overcome difficulties and solve life problems.

It’s not so much what we do but the attitude we have towards doing it, that determines whether our work is self-indulgent or a ministry/calling.

How do you view your work, whether it’s writing or any other regular pursuit during these thirty days of March Madness? Is it a calling, a satisfying hobby, or simply something you do because you’ve become caught up in the routine of doing it?

~

We’re on the brink of our last week of March Madness.  Are you ready to push ahead and make the best use of these final days?

As a bit of encouragement I’d like to give away another prize from our huge prize arsenal today! Today’s winner is…

Nicole Luiken!

Congratulations! Stop by our goal-setting post, and choose your prize from those still listed. Email Denise at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com with your choice and we’ll get it out to you as soon as possible.

And if you didn’t win, there are still LOTS of great prizes to be won. Winners are chosen from participants who comment at the daily check-in blog locations, so keep checking in each day. Tomorrow’s check-in is at Angelina Hansen‘s blog at  http://yascribe.blogspot.com

~  ~  ~

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28 thoughts on “March Madness #4: Writing as Magic or Ministry

  1. baccelliak says:

    I write because the stories are inside of me. I didn’t come out of the ‘closet’ about my own faith because I don’t write for that market. Also I found some ‘assume’ certain things about my faith–I’m Mormon–that isn’t necessarily true. Or that I have a responsibility to uplift youth in our church. That’s not me. I feel that it stifles my creativity. I write what comes to me. I write dark, edgy, sad stories but I also write fun, quirky ones too. I try to push myself with each project.

    • Carol says:

      On Facebook I’m friends with an eclectic group of people. The original connections were family, later adding connections from the purebred dog world where I both worked and played, and church friends. My writer friends came later from both the secular and inspirational genres. I’m sure some of my posts confuse people who don’t recognize me ‘wearing certain hats’! LOL! While I rarely write something specifically for the Christian market anymore, I figure who I am is bound to infiltrate my writing.

      No matter what we’re writing, pushing to dig deeper and do better is always a good thing. :)

      • baccelliak says:

        True. I do know that my struggles/conflicts on my faith do show up in my stories. Most of my characters do question including Stephanie in Crossed Out. Originally Stephanie was questioning God which was ironic considering what she did: helped murdered girls go to the otherside. I even had a pastor who was her mentor but somehow this scared people off. My current project deals with a protagonist in a cult-like society that is banished after questioning the spiritual leadership.

  2. denisejaden says:

    Great thought-provoking post, Carol! I have a strong faith, and I believe that creativity working its way out of me is a spiritual process. I don’t like any parameters on me when I’m writing, so I definitely do not think about moralizing or messages or anything else as I’m drafting. Funny, though, that when I’m done revising, I can always see a thread of some important truth shining through. Part of the joy of writing for me, too, is discovering where I connect with others and where, specifically, they connect to my stories. For me, that true connection only comes when I’m writing from the depths of who I really am.

    As for progress, I’m just finishing up another revision today. I’ve had such spectacular (and fast!) beta readers this month, which has allowed me to make wonderful progress on my goals.

    • Carol says:

      We sometimes neglect to notice that the words Creator and creativity stem from the same root. I think writing is indeed a very spiritual process regardless of our beliefs. It’s interesting to hear how you approach your writing.

      Congrats for finishing up *another* revision. You’re turning out to be a great role model for us this month. :)

    • Shari Green says:

      Congrats on finishing another batch of revisions, Denise! Awesome! And yay for beta readers. :D

  3. Shari Green says:

    I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking about the link between creativity and spirituality, as well as wrestling a bit with writing for mainstream vs faith-based markets, and I’m very comfortable where I’m at now. Like Denise, when I look back at the stories I’ve written, I can see how my Christian worldview has shaped things — like the way hope always seems to be a theme for me.

    As for whether it’s a calling or something else…hmm… When I’m following my passion, telling the stories I’m meant to tell, using the creative gifts given by the Creator, that all seems like I’m being my truest self, which is maybe what I’m called to be. Yes?

    And the madness…writing like mad this afternoon, making up for lost time (and having some fun in the process).

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Mom. :)

    • Shari Green says:

      Hmm, that came out sounding kind of self-centred. I should revise, but no time for that! No editing until after March Madness! lol

    • Carol says:

      I think hope is a good theme to share in any market! And yes, being comfortable with the person God created you to be suggests a thankful response.

      Enjoy your gladful and madful afternoon of writing. :D

  4. Stacy Kupiec says:

    My writing started out as something I wanted to accomplish. And I did. But then I wanted it to be good. ;) I have a great imagination and love the ideas that constantly flow in my brain. It sometimes gets hard to make myself focus on one story to get it finished because there’s always another story waiting to take over my thoughts. That’s one of the main reasons I love March Madness so much. One month and it’s done! (Okay, so it’s really only a scraggly first draft that’s done, but you get what I’m saying.)
    My wip is not christian based, but I have a story in my head that seriously wants to come out. And it is Christian. There’s a lot of religious stories out there and I had always stayed away from them because I was afraid they were too cheesy. Some of them are, but most of the ones I’ve read now, I love. So I’ve encouraged myself to write the one I have. Guess what’s next on my list?

    • Stacy Kupiec says:

      And congrats to Nicole!

    • Carol says:

      For most of my adult life I avoided reading Christian fiction exactly for that reason, Stacy — the conflicts never seemed realistic and the solutions were overly simplistic, etc. But in recent years I’ve discovered authors whose stories I really enjoy.

      I’m glad you’re finding March Madness is helping you to focus on finishing what you have on-the-go. MM was timely for me, as I was just starting something new. I’d hoped to finish its first draft, but realistically I know I’m not a fast enough writer. I’ll have made a good start anyway.

  5. I remember feeling torn when I first started writing. Over time I realized that I was a work in progress and reflected that in my books. I still find myself embarrassed at times by what comes out of my plots. Good post, as usual, Carol.

  6. Carol says:

    That’s a good point, Joylene. If we’re continuing to improve as writers, we’ll continually change, too. Our writing style and the topics and genre we choose may well evolve. I seem to go through cycles and haven’t quite found my niche yet.

  7. I believe we are made in the image of our joyful creator, which means we were made with the desire/need to create. I also believe that in order to be a balanced, happy, spiritual human, I must have an outlet for that creative energy. Writing is one of those ways and it brings me great joy.

    • Carol says:

      “… we were made with the desire/need to create” is an uplifting realization. I think people are given various gifts, though, so our abilities might not be the same as someone else’s, which would explain why some people don’t have an interest in artistic pursuits but find fulfillment in other things.

  8. I write because it’s what I do. My first writings were poetry when I was in grade school. In middle school and high school, I wrote short stories that seemed to mock novels I’d read. In my young adult life, I tried to write non-fiction, mostly gardening related. Had my first article on antique roses published by a regional magazine when I was twenty-six. That spurred my interest in writing publishable material. I tried (really hard) to write for children, as I’d always had a passion for picture books. That dream still lurks inside me. One day I may revisit it. But for now, I’ve moved on to another genre for the adult market. It seems I’m still searching for that perfect genre that’ll fit me. I want to entertain. Make people laugh and wonder. I want to connect with my readers, and have them want more of what I write. I sometimes wonder if I’m attempting to fulfill a need inside of me. Whether that’s the right reason or not, I write because I’m a writer, and deep down, I know it’s what I’m supposed to be doing.

    Thank you for the though-provoking post, Carol. :)

    • Goodness gracious. A typo! “Thought-provoking”

      • Carol says:

        You’ve been writing in one way or another for a long time and I don’t doubt it’s meeting a need. Creative outlets are very satisfying. Sometimes I wish I had settled on something easier, but, like you, I feel strongly that I’m doing what I was meant to do.

  9. Jenn Hubbard says:

    If we write what is true to ourselves, and consistent with our values, isn’t that writing informed by everything we are, including our spirituality?
    God can be found in many, many places.

    • Carol says:

      I like how you’ve worded this, Jenn. Our writing (our very lives!) will reflect who we are if we are writing and/or living by the values we believe in.

  10. writingkat says:

    Well said, Careann, and your response is on point, Jenn Hubbard–I agree with both. I think you have to write what rings “true” for you, no matter which genre it targets. You’ll never know who you influence.

    I hit 2168 words for the day, very happy with what I wrote today, as well.

    Congrats, Nicole!

    Kat ;)

    • Carol says:

      That’s a great word count for a Saturday, Kat. I haven’t managed even half that today. :(

      I received an e-mail several months ago from someone who discovered via site stats that I had visited her blog, so she had returned the visit. We ended up having a conversation of sorts… one that was meaningful to both of us. And to think I had no idea she was reading my words and gleaning something from them! Wow! Books have the same opportunity, and not knowing who might be influenced by what we write is additional motivation to write from the heart.

  11. Interesting and inspired post today! I needed something positive to cheer me up due to a terrible day on the homefront.

    When I first saw the blog title the first thing I thought of was The Ministry of Magic. But when I read this:

    “any task done with passion that attempts to bring beauty, help or healing, is a calling… a legitimate form of ministry.”

    I realized it’s not just Potter on the brain. I think it is truly our passion that makes the magic in the stories we write. My desire to share stories isn’t without some trepidation, as it’s an outpouring of my soul. A part of me is in everything I write so it’s as though I’m baring the deepest part of me with the world.

    The gift to create things of beauty and wonder certainly comes from a higher power. I’m very blessed and grateful to be among wonderful scribes who have the opportunity to share this gift with others.

    • Carol says:

      I’m sorry your day was so bad, Tonette. I hope tomorrow will be a much better one.

      Baring our souls to the world can make us vulnerable, and that’s scary. But I think we do our best writing when we reach down far below the surface to share honest and meaningful words. Here’s hoping your passion elicits lots of MM magic as you write. :)

  12. It’s 11:30 pm, but at least it is still the 22nd on the pacific coast. Interesting comments. we write for different reasons. Years ago, when I was in my late teens, I felt compelled to write. I didn’t want to write but the compulsion was so strong I didn’t feel I had a choice. Years after that I was able to quit, partly because of job demands, but by then it was part of my life and so when I could, I resumed writing. I don’t know if you call it a “calling” or what, but as another writer said, it is what I do, so I just keep on doing it. (maybe I don’t know any better.)

    • Carol says:

      I hope your late evening writing was more productive than mine. I was in bed by the time you left your comment. :)

      “Why we do it…” certainly evokes different answers from different writers — because we have to, want to, like to, need to, etc. So many reasons. I don’t imagine everyone who writes sees it as a calling, but for some I believe it definitely is.

  13. L.S. Taylor says:

    So very much this, Carol. Writing itself is a spiritual / magical act. (It’s the same energy, IMHO, though folks may choose to look at it differently.) It’s an act of creation, no matter what you’re creating. Those words will bring light to someone’s world, and that matters.

    My Saturday was where I hit a wall, and just plain needed to sleep. But in taking care of myself, I was able to reconnect with that energy and I’m ready to get back into things. :)

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