Wednesday, April 27, 2011

moulding life like you mould fiction

Life - sometimes I wish I could mould it the way I can mould fiction. Wouldn't that be nice? "I think this will happen now and then this and this - presto!" Mind you, fiction can have a mind of its own and take you in directions you never imagined in order to maintain a story's integrity and plausibility. But still, you can turn it left or right most of the time and create any happy ending you want. Of course this doesn't work in real life. And whenever I do "my will be done not yours" prayers that doesn't work either ;o)

Actually, as a writer, writing in the Christian fiction genre is one thing and it can be done well if you put heart and soul into it. But I find I have to write the other kind of stories too, where things don't always wind up picture perfect, and I need to do this kind of writing as a Christian as well as typically Christian storytelling. Yes, it is different than Christian fiction because it is the sort of writing where struggle and tragedy and enigma play a more prominent role. You can have the hard endings Christian fiction normally won't accept.

We just received our first copy of "The White Birds of Morning" in the mail. This is published in Toronto, and the publisher is still a Christian, BUT it's meant for a much wider audience than Christian fiction appeals to. Really it's meant for a global audience, Christian and non-Christian, which takes away some freedoms Christian fiction gives you but grants you others Christian fiction can't offer. There's no way for me to even begin to try to write about real life without working in both genres.

I may not be able to mould my world the way I can mould a fictional story. But I know this: real life is the stuff of fiction and real fiction is the stuff of life. We owe it to God and one another, indeed to the whole world, to talk about that real world as honestly and positively and faithfully as possible. It is not the place to fake it or cover up the truth. Nor is it the place to twist things out of shape and make light darkness or tragedy the norm. Too much is at stake. The "puffy clouds and blue sky" storytellers need to remember that. So do the "dark clouds and even darker sky" ones.


EMP said...

Re: "We just received our first copy of "The White Birds of Morning" in the mail."

Congratulations, Murray!

Bill L. said...

Certainly congratulations!
I completely agree with your blog note on this subject.
So often I have walked through "Christian Bookstores," or bazaars of one strip or another, and felt like my life is being crushed out of me by the shelves of trinkets and poorly put together, manipulative "art" and row upon row of books that do more to obscure the life of God in His people rather than unfold it for others to view and, perhaps, appreciate.
Years ago my wife and I had opportunity share in a study community called L’Abri. At L’Abri, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, and an older Dutch gentleman, Hans Rookmaaker I think, spoke much about this subject of Christian expression in the arts. They were all trying to inspire many of us to do art, or more completely, whatever we choose to express our lives through “honestly, as whole human beings and with quality.” As I recall, Rookmaaker was focused, and accomplished, in music stressing its breadth and depth of reach in the expression of things human and divine. Those were wonder-filled years for us. Oh… I miss so much and so many from our past; I begin to see that if Father did not keep plowing my life up, I surely could be trapped in the “that which was.”
When we allow our perceived need for, say, acceptance, or affirmation, or remuneration – when we let those be the controlling influence in our lives, we cheapen our creations and, eventually, prostitute ourselves on one or another idolatrous altar. This danger, from personal experience, is just as true of the vocal arts of “preaching” and “teaching” as of the, occasionally, more theatrical arts of pure drama, song, or dance. Growing up in God, becoming ever more fully human as intended by Him, is very hard work. Life has often whispered, and more than occasionally shouted, to me that truth, like real freedom, is not inexpensive.

murray said...

Bill, I know the L'Abri work very well. (They still have communities you and your wife could visit.) Francis showed up at my home town of Winnipeg - just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas - and gave a great talk about the impact of Christianity on civilization (based on his book How Should We Then Live?). This naturally included talking about painting and music and literature. Indeed, as a teen and a twenty something I read everything about art Schaeffer wrote and he inspired me to be an artist, a believer and a writer. Hans Rookmaker wrote an excellent book called Modern Art and the Death of a Culture which even my agnostic university professor brother acknowledged was a well done work. You should pick it up sometime as it has a lot to say about Christians expressing their faith through their art and their lives. Thanks for sharing your L'Abri experience. I'd like to go a 21st century one.

Bill L. said...

I am glad you had opportunity to interact with the Schaeffers. Lona and I always wanted to be L'Abri workers/teachers, but God had a different course for us to explore. I do not recall how many years ago now, but we dropped in for a visit at a L'Abri in California, in the Santa Monica mountains I think. Sadly, we arrived the very day they were closing up shop (too many years, I cannot recall why); I think they moved it to the Minnesota location. It was sad because so many young men and women were milling about California at that time. I recall thinking how they could have had as honest discussions of their questions as one will get on planet earth.
I saw Os Guinness taking part in a Focus on the Family project, Truth Project, that was very well done. So many people come to maturity without ever understanding anything of God's intent of creativity, and its close relative, labor. Neither do most of us gain understanding of for whose ultimate enjoyment and approval we have opportunity to live expressing ourselves.
Have a wonderful week,

murray said...

I never met Os Guinness but I was introduced to his Dust of Death when I was 18 or 19. It had a strong impact on me. I wish more people could have the sort of interactions with L'Abri you and I have enjoyed, whether in person or through the various books and writings.