Presented for your consideration, a portrait of delusion:
People often ask me why I write. I usually give them one of these answers:
- “I enjoy writing. It’s fun.”
- “I write to help relieve stress. It’s cheaper than therapy and requires no prescription.”
- “My 7th grade teacher gave me some positive feedback on an essay, and I never looked back.”
Of course, being a supposedly Christian writer, none of these answers really satisfies. They don’t “testify.” Where’s the hand of God in this? Surely He had something to do with it. He guided, pushed, pulled, directed, moved, inspired, commanded, foreordained, or called me to write…right?
I’ve heard people describe their motivation for writing this way. “God called me to write.” It always feels a little presumptuous to me. We acknowledge that people are called to full-time ministry, or missionary work, or any one of a number of self-sacrificing vocations–doctors, teachers, firemen, policemen, career military personnel, and so on. But…writers? Fiction writers? Speculative fiction writers?
It sounds silly. Writing is something people with real callings might do in their spare time or after they’ve retired. They’d write memoirs, or testimonials, or devotionals, or self-help books. Certainly not trivial little stories about spaceships, fairies, or monsters. Isn’t saying you’re “called to write” just a convenient way to spiritualize something you simply want to do?
I suppose it depends on where that “want” comes from. It’s easy to say that something is God’s will, but like so many other things about God, it’s often more difficult to discern what His will is than what it isn’t. If you think you’ve been called to write, but, like Mr. Bear up there, you see writing as the fast track to fame and fortune, don’t care about learning how to write well, and are impervious to the feedback and advice of people trying to help you, I think it’s safe to say you might not be in the center of God’s will.
I hate to trot out C.S. Lewis again, but he’s very apt for the topic at hand. In The Silver Chair (a Narnia story that will not, unfortunately, be coming to the theater any time soon), Jill Pole and Eustace Scrubb find their way into Narnia, but Jill is a bit confused about that and has a question for Aslan:
“I was wondering–I mean–could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to–to Somebody–it was a name I wouldn’t know–and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open.”
“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.
I believe God plants desires in our hearts as one means of guiding us. I think he surrounds us with people who speak on His behalf, if we’ll only pay attention and listen. I also think we have a duty to honor His guidance by pursuing it with all our heart and with as much excellence as we can muster, even if it’s writing silly little stories about spaceships, and fairies, and monsters.
So, am I “called” to write? Beats me. I think, though, that it’s a good idea to write as if I am, and to perhaps not be quite so skeptical of that person over there who is convinced they are.