Write Who You Are
I was perusing through one of my infrequent journal entries from a while ago and came across this quote from Terry Brooks that I had made a note of.
If you are a real writer; you infuse your characters with truths from your own life. The old saw is, Write What You Know. I think it equally appropriate to add, Write Who You Are. Give your readers little insights into how you think. Share your feelings and beliefs in a way that makes others question their own, thereby requiring them in some small way to re-evaluate their lives. Godd story-telling compels us to do this.”
— Terry Brooks
This quote struck a chord with me when I first read it, and still resonates with me now. As authors it is important that we be authentic with our writing. That we don’t try to make it show us as something we aren’t.
This naturally draws into the generic discussion of how our Christianity infuses our writing as Christian authors, but beyond that—and on a personal note—it impacts the stories I choose to write.
One of my great joys in life is finding something that ignites my imagination. That sparks my inquisitiveness to go beyond the presented information to imagine what lies beyond. To imagine ways that I could present my own creative twist and delve into a world on my own and explore.
I think that’s what has been some of the “magic” behind the great sci-fi and fantasy stories of our time. It goes beyond the characters and events to the heart of the world. It is a place that we want to explore and learn more about. It is a place where we would love to adventure.
That’s one of the core principles that I try to bring into my writing. I want my readers to enjoy the journey and the characters, but beyond that I want them to fall in love with the possibilities of the world. I want them to begin to dream and wonder what other stories there are to be told, and to express their own creativity through my worlds and into their own.
As a reader, what books have grabbed you and inspried you to go and do something?
As a writers, what part of yourself do you strive to impart upon readers through the writing?
For the Christian, especially, “write who you are” includes (or should include) both the author’s love for storytelling and possibility, and more importantly, his/her love for Christ.
What, then, do we make of those who say “good stories should not propagandize?” But if an author truly loved evangelism and sharing the Gospel specifically with those who both do and don’t know it, he would not be true to himself if he suppressed this in his story. It would come off even more inauthentic than one of those “propaganda” stories.
This leads me to the sober conclusion that perhaps, for some Christian novels that seem infested with religious propaganda, their authors don’t hold these truths very deeply. Those who write directly about Christ and the Gospel “get away with it” because they have truly saturated themselves in these ideas, which have influenced who they are deep down. In turn, books — either fiction or nonfiction — influence how people think and what they believe. Thus, while it’s true writers best write about who they are, it’s also true that writers are what they read.
I try to impart real world struggles in my fantasy setting. I’m always asking, “What if…”
I love Terry Brooks and I loved the book I believe your quote is from (Sometimes the Magic Works). Terry also talks about his editor telling him early on in his career to have a bigger picture to his story than just the story itself. In other words, Theme. And in Terry’s books, you see the theme of how man’s technology destroyed the world.
As far as what part of myself to I impart into my book? I think its my desire for an authentic, fleshed out, full of sweat and blood and fear relationship we have with our Creator. And how he loves us, walks with us, and tenderly calls us back when we lose ourselves.
Write what you know is fine. Write what you are might be stretching it. Are I interesting? Are I done stuff in my life? Are I anything. Nope. I see a slippery slope where you end up desperately emoting about your inner life. I think I actually did that once, but I got over it when I turned 17.
Is our writing a window or a mirror? Do we write a window so that our readers can look in through it and see us? Hello! It’s me! Or is it a mirror, where our readers look into it and see themselves. Mirrors are very handy for helping people see themselves.
And what about the writers? We need a window to look out of. So perhaps we are here in our secret, dark, hidden little room. Our only light comes from the one way mirror that our readers see. And what if that went transparent? What would our readers see. Not themselves, which is interesting, but ourselves, which is not interesting.
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