Friday, August 28, 2009

Big doors and small hinges

Big doors swing on small hinges. I'm Dana Mentink, the smallest of hinges but I recently read a book that opened up some powerful notions about writing in my mind.
Jerry Jenkins’s book Writing for the Soul, is one of those small hinges supporting some very powerful ideas. I found it fascinating because, although you can find zillions of books on writing, this one is focused on how our faith fits into our writing business. Jerry ought to know. His Left Behind series has sold over 70,000,000 books. For a guy who started out as a journalist and sports writer, he’s done more than well in the fiction writing business.
Jenkins is quick to give the credit where it’s due. “I have learned that God often gifts people and prepares them before He calls them, which he did in my case.” His book addresses a topic that has always been a sticking point with me. How can a business which is so ego oriented (yes, that’s MY name on the cover folks) and encourages such blatant self promotion (yep, those are MY accomplishments there in the tag line on my e-mail) be honorable to the Lord? Jenkins has dealt with the same questions. Many of his 150 books aren’t Christian per say, yet he poses two interesting questions for consideration.
Why are you a writer?
Are you an inspirational writer?
He says the answers should have nothing to do with ourselves. “If God and others are not the reasons you write, you might as well write solely for the general market. That doesn’t mean everything you write has to be a sermon or packed with scripture, but your unique worldview should come through.” A unique world view can hum inside any type of well written fiction, Christian or not. If it’s not expressing our world view, then maybe we shouldn’t be writing it, or perhaps the answer to Jerry’s second question is no. It all comes back to the reason we write.
But what about the pride of publishing? That drive to see our own work made into book form? Isn’t it selfish and self serving? Jenkins says, “Real writers want to hold their printed words in their hands. If that’s you, good! Go for it! Nurture that natural desire to be published. It’s how you gain your voice. Frankly, when someone tells me he doesn’t care to be published or paid for his writing, but that he simply wants to express himself, I don’t believe it. He may be truly humble, but if his work is worth doing, his stuff worth writing, he should want it published and read as widely as possible.”
So why do we write? To convey our God inspired world view. And why should we strive for publication? Because that’s how we can share that worldview with others.
The book is also a wealth of information about practical writing advice. Things like pace, conflict, plot and all those nuts and bolts of good writing are addressed. It’s interspersed with vignettes from Jenkins’s biographies about some famous athlete’s and how their faith journeys inspired their athletic accomplishments. All in all, I found it to be a wonderful tool for any writer but in particular, Christian Big doors swing on small hinges Do yourself a favor and check it out!


PamelaTracy said...

Sounds like a good book.

Ralene said...

Jerry's book was the first writing book I read after I decided to turn my hobby into a serious pursuit. I found him inspiring and it really made me want to dive in and get started. Of course, he said a writer shouldn't start out with a novel...but well, I was never the greatest listener. hehehe...

Lynette Eason said...

Great advice, Dana. thanks for the reminder of who we really write for.


Linda said...

Although I love to read novels, non-fiction, I feel more led to write to congressmen and women, newspapers, TV stations, or even the President when something stirs in me. Sometimes I'm amazed at what comes out and how succinctly it shapes up into my comment or concern. I often feel it comes directly from the Lord's leading, as I don't often think the way I end up writing. It's cool to experience it. Must be that way for novel writers. Yes???

Debby Giusti said...

Great info and the book sounds like a must-read! Thanks for sharing!

Dana Mentink said...

It really is a good book and I particularly enjoyed the segments taken from his interviews with famous athletes and their Christian worldviews.