f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Read Fast, Edit Hard, Blog Young: Thoughts of a Summer Intern

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Friday, May 27, 2005

Read Fast, Edit Hard, Blog Young: Thoughts of a Summer Intern

Hello. I am guessing that most of you (okay, all of you) are wondering who I am. Well, my name is Carra, and I am The Intern. Yup, that’s right: Dave is my boss (I appreciate your sympathies). Seriously though, he is a great boss, and he has extended an invitation to me to be a weekly guest writer on his infamous blog. I am honored.

So getting down to business. I am not sure what exactly what to write, and seeing as how Dave wasn't especially helpful, I thought it would just be best to write about things that have really resonated with me in both the faith and writing realms and where the two intersect (or don’t).

One idea that I have been continually struck with is the notion of story. Story is such a vital part of the human existence. It is how we relate and communicate. Story is how we connect with one another. In the end, all we have left is our own personal story. I think deep down we writers know this, and we feel an urgency to share this story with a sympathetic ear.

This sharing can happen in a number of ways, the two most popular being memoir and fiction. Wait—fiction?

Of course!!! Granted, it is made-up—that’s why we call it fiction—but all good fiction comes from and is based in life. "Write what you know" has become the undergrad writing slogan. And it works.

I think that this "writing what you know" goes hand in hand with the writing cliché: "you don’t pick your topics; your topics pick you." As for my own experiences, this has been true—too true at times. But as a Christian writer, or I should say, as writer with/of faith, what do you do when the story kidnaps you and takes you to a place that is dark and scary and bleak and seemingly Godless? How do you deal with that? How does your audience deal with that (if the story actually sees the light of day)? As a Christian, where are our boundaries?

If you are expecting me to answer my own questions, I’m not. I can’t. At least not fully. As a writing major at a Christian college, I am continually challenged to write outside the box of Christianese. Challenged to write for those who are "blinded by the light of this world." I can’t personally do that by writing about only the puppies and dolphins and daisies of life. They (and I) just wouldn’t get it. So what is the bigger picture and how do our stories (begging like little children to finally be put onto paper) fit into it?

I am not fully sure of the answer, but I don’t think we have to be fully sure. Part of the adventure and fun of writing is not knowing what exactly will happen next. So jump a fence or two, avoid the cliché potholes, and discover what lies beyond your own boundaries. Only than can you truly find them.

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A few links that further expand this discussion:

Writer James C. Schaap writes about mixing faith and writing in "Faith and the Writer: Mix or Mistake?"

"Four Catholic writers who read their way to faith" A book review and article about four prominent Catholice writers and how their faith influenced their lives and their writing.