Friday, February 20, 2009

Posing a Question

The day job has been overwhelming my time, which is why my posts for the recent CSFF Blog Tour were composed a few days ahead of schedule. Due to changes in the local Boys & Girls Club photography contest, I have more to do and a month less in which to do it, so I've been bringing work home, easily adding ten hours to the work week. That translates to little reading and even less writing this week.

Spurred by the posts of fellow writers -- Steve Rice, Rebecca Miller, Marcus Goodyear -- a question arose in my mind during the recent blog tour: What's the job of a fiction writer, regardless of that writer's religious or philosophical bent?

I have to get back to work, but I'll return to this question -- and probably ask more, because one good question deserves another. =0)


Strider said...

The job of a fiction writer? Get published and make money!!!! LOL Have a great weekend.


You'd think! Apparently there's more to it, shucks, darn.

The Texican said...

I still can't find a job I like. I would write, but it is a lot like work and the pay is minimal. Hope you get some relief soon. The Mega lottery is up to about 126 million. That might put you on Obama's radar screen as someone who is making too much. Have a great weekend. Pappy

Eaglewing said...

Good question. I'd guess to primarily entertain, and hopefully slip in enough to make a person think a bit too. Basically, engage a person's mind and imagination and maybe even their heart through the written word. Easier said than done though.

Good luck with the work pile on. There's always more to do, isn't there?


Tex - (laugh) Yeah, but writing is something I actually like. As for the lottery, well, I'd rather sink my money into something like, say, a new windshield for the truck.

Eagle - Thanks. And, yes, there's always more. Too bad that doesn't always translate to a little extra in the paycheck.

Phy said...

I wrestle with this every day. How to act as the liaison between people who have something and people who need something?

On the one hand, there is the argument that we need to be authentic without regard to culture. On the other, we need to recognize that culture things in terms of labels, and the very label applied to our authentic works may be keeping it out of the hands of the people who most need to read it.

There's a difference between John the Baptist and Barnabas. Both are men of God, but each had radically different roles, styles, ministries, audiences. The way John the Baptist handled truth was different than what Barnabas did.

One can't seem to have these discussions without looking back to those who have grappled with this before us. C. S. Lewis wrote his non-fiction in the strongest possible terms, using logic to challenge people to examine the truth and in the end, to choose God as the logical, spiritual, practical, inevitable choice.

His fiction, however, was couched in far different language. Lewis wrote his fantasy works as a storyteller, using fantastic settings and allegoric constructs to convey what he saw as spiritual truths. There is a reason his Aslan is Aslan, a lion that represents something, instead of having a character called Christ. I think there is room for both direct logical argument and more oblique artistic expression. Both forms of expression can be very powerful in their own right.

Lewis accomplished the neat trick of having his works published in all kinds of bookstores, both secular and CBS, because his stories were clearly fiction. We have a tougher task today because publishers want to identify fiction by specific genres. While that makes it easier to organize works by like-mindedness, it also creates the unfortunate situation of keeping works that could be beneficial to a certain segment of the population segregated in a way that the best intended audience might never read them.

J.R.R Tolkien is the other author traditionally invoked in these discussions. Where Lewis clearly and methodically wrote stories as spiritual allegory, Tolkien took a different approach, pouring so much of himself into his written art that he did not intentionally include allegorical elements of The Lord of the Rings. And yet, when people suggest that such allegorical elements do, in fact, exist in LOTR, we talk about Tolkien's own faith being infused into the work more as an unconscious overflowing cup side effect than by deliberate intention. What a delightful idea.

As a modern writer who has both a yen for storytelling and personal faith, perhaps that is the best way to approach it. Instead of overt ham-fisted attempts at proselytizing via fiction which will be quickly sniffed out and spurned, perhaps this audience is best reached when we grow so close to our God that echoes of the real world overflow into our fiction just as echoes of Amber, the one true world, were found everywhere in Shadow in Roger Zelazny's works. Save sermons for Sunday morning, but let the stories be stories. If there is any truth to be found, let it seep through every nook and cranny, an artistic, winsome, overflowing of imagination and literary craft.


Phy - Wow. You warned me you'd written nearly a thesis in reply to this topic! I'm gonna steal that last paragraph and use it in the next post, and reply to your comments there.