Why do you write?
Are your stories really that important? They're just fiction, right?
Who do you write for anyway? Seems a self-centered task when you get so much joy out of writing stories from your head. Are you really writing for God...or are you just writing for you?
You may never get published...isn't it a waste of time?
I ask myself these questions often. And when I do, I tiptoe along the edge of doubt, scared that I will fall into a realization that this dream is simply a fabrication of my heart--an exciting way to convince myself that I am doing something bigger with my life than vacuuming and cooking dinner.
Up until last week, I fumbled in the dark, searching for light on God's truth in my calling. I struggled to commit to the hoped-for answers to the above questions.
|On Flickr by Leucippus|
I discovered that writing really isn't my calling after all.
I sat in a workshop, exhausted from networking, trying to ignore the what-ifs of a writer's conference, and listened to a vibrant Karen Ball pour forth her wisdom:
There is one calling in life: "To reflect Christ to a broken world. "
And a writer's task is to fulfill that calling by writing.
Wow. This really takes the writing and puts it in it's rightful place...as a means to get to Christ.
With this humbling perspective on our craft, literary agent, Karen Ball, facilitated discussion with one question more eloquent than the ones I pondered above....
What's your catalyst?
She opened the mic to the many authors in the room, and I heard fabulous stories about their catalysts which spurred their stories. I searched myself, allowing Karen's explanation to scare away the darkness of not knowing, and welcoming a wash of light in my very core.
She had explained that a Christian writer's catalyst is nothing less than God-inspired. That at the very core of Christian writers who have been given the task to write to fulfill our Great Calling, is God using a story that is uniquely their own. If God is at your core, then His whisper is your catalyst for your stories. You cannot simply walk away from that, but you must be a good steward of your passion initiated by God...AND WRITE!
|On Flickr by ErinKPhoto|
Tears poured down my face when the wash of light became a bright shine in my core, revealing my very catalyst for writing.
Ok. I'll share.
Having grown up in a rich cultural heritage, one that can be all-consuming, defining not only my favorite foods and precious traditions, but also defining God within the realm of the culture, I finally had to break free and find God outside of the cultural box. A process over several years of searching and heart-ache and self-discovery.
And you know what? Every single one of my stories--no matter if they are set in Texas or Utah, the Amazon or Germany--illustrate a culture and a piercing through the boundaries of that culture with a universal truth about God.
My catalyst is finding God regardless of culture or man-made boundaries. I always knew I wrote about cultures for a reason, and I attributed it to my involvement in women's ministry and outreach. But I didn't realize it went further than that. I hadn't made it personal, until Karen made me search for it.
God has been inspiring specific stories based uniquely on me, without my knowledge of His reason, until now. How uniquely Him to work without my understanding, right?
The definition of catalyst is: In Chemistry, a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected. (from dictionary.com)
Think of the Holy Spirit as that substance...He is never affected, never changing...but causes or accelerates a reaction in the spirit of man.
|On Flickr by Velo Steve|
In the workshop, we also focused on that passion which comes from our catalyst. Karen spurred on conversation among the group, and came up with these points:
- Passion to write should never come before our Family and Scripture.
- Be leery of things that kill passion: Shame, expectations, guilt, worry, fear, busyness, discouragement (and stay in the Scriptures to combat these things!)
- Nurture that passion to grow in a God-ordained way: Spend time with like-minded people, read, get away from writing when you need to, worship.
Search yourself. Discover your own catalyst. Seek the very reason God has accelerated your story to change lives of those around you. And kindle that passion. God can use your writing in many ways: before, during, and after publishing. He may choose to use it to reach a large readership, or put it in front of an editor who might need your words to cross their desk--an example pointed out by Karen. There are endless ways God will use your words.
Above all else, know that the very reason you formed those words in the first place is for Him.
So. What's your catalyst?
Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across cultures. She is an ACFW member and CEO of a family of six.