“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law,” Paul wrote in Romans 13:8.
As a writer, I grapple with the idea of loving my readers. I don’t write merely for myself. I don’t even write for God alone. He has placed me here, in this world, so I write for readers–to love them in obedience to God.
Excellence has to be a part of that. Love and excellence go hand in hand. Where we don’t love, we can’t be bothered. When we care passionately, on the other hand, our best hardly seems good enough. If we love our readers, we’ll work at the story, at the sentences, at the themes. If we love our readers, we’ll revise. If we love our readers, we’ll apply ourselves with dogged commitment.
Maybe ironically, that means listening as well as writing. I can’t write in real love to people if I don’t know who they are, what they care about, what hurts them, what makes them catch their breath in wonder. The more I go into the world and get to know people, the more I’m fueled to keep writing. It’s a two-way street.
Nor does writing in love, with excellence, always mean preaching a sermon (yup, I know, this is getting to be a recurring theme around here). Sometimes it means crafting a really worthwhile escape, because you know something? People are tired. They’re weary and hurting, and sometimes they need to get out of here for a while and go somewhere they can rejuvenate, re-envision, refresh. Escapism is a bad way of life, but Sabbath is beautiful and needed. We can help.
We write with love, too, when we let our imaginations go and burst forth and make places and characters that inspire, that enervate. Lord of the Rings is a work of imagination, through and through, but it’s imparted real courage to me. Thank you, Master Tolkien, for your love.
I know this has all been said before. But for me, love helps put it into new perspective. This profession may be one of the most isolated on earth, but it’s not all about the writer. Far from it.