Monday, January 26, 2015

Writing Myths Perpetuated by Christian Writers, Part 1


by Gina Welborn

After being involved in numerous writing groups over the last decade, I've noticed a difference between Christian and non-Christian perspectives. This post is not about faith. This post is not about values. This post is not about language or sex in books.

It's about two myths I've repeatedly heard Christian writers tout as truths.

#1 Everyone Has a Book in Him/Her
#2 Called by God to Write

 My oldest daughter (11th grader) has done some fiction writing. She's encouraged her friends to write too. What she tells them is what I tell her:

Just write. Doesn't matter what you write, just write. Doesn't matter if it is good, bad, or even plausible, just write. 

When someone is first learning to write, he doesn't need rules. She doesn't need to hear how adverbs, head-hopping, and parentheses in fiction are bad. We need the freedom to create uninhibited.

For some people, writing is an escape.
For others, it's therapy.
A passion.
Torture.

See, it's torture because not everyone is a writer. Not everyone is supposed to be. Worst thing in the world is to tell someone, especially a teenager, he "has a book in him" when he has no talent or interest, when he hates reading, when he hates writing a class report, when he's failing English, when he'd rather be out fishing or shooting hoops or rebuilding a laptop he took apart. True, he may become a writer someday, but he also may not.

It's okay for him not to be a writer.

Just like it's okay for me not to be a teacher (at home or in the public schools) or a nurse or an accountant or an insurance salesman or the city mayor. Oh, I could manage any of those if I had the training, but doing any would be torture for me. None are my personality. None are my interest. None are my passion.

What people, especially teenagers, need isn't someone trying to motivate them into something we don't want to do. What we need is someone telling us . . .

Find your passion. 

Maybe there is a book or more in you. Maybe there's a song in you. Maybe there's a company in you. Maybe there's a video game in you. Maybe there's a painting in you. Maybe there is the next corvette model design in you. The point is to find what interest you and pursue it. (I'm not talking dating or sex or drugs or criminal behavior.)

"But, whether we like it or not, failure is a necessary stepping stone to achieving our dreams. It may be one epic failure. Or a series of failures – such as Edison’s 10,000 attempts to create a light bulb or Dyson’s 5,126 attempts to invent a bagless vacuum cleaner. But, whether we like it or not, failure is a necessary stepping stone to achieving our dreams." ~Forbes magazine 

 The other day my friend Becca said, "I've finally given up my dream of being a ballerina." I wish I could say my response had been encouraging. I laughed. Not that she had the dream. Not that she couldn't physically be a ballerina. I laughed because it'd taken her decades to finally figure this out.

The other day College Boy said, "You told me I was too small to play football. So I went out for the team when I was in high school to spite you." Ouch. I hadn't let him play football when he was in elementary school because where we lived in Virginia, it wasn't a school-sponsored sport. Yes, I thought he was too small, but my reasoning had been financial. After I explained myself, he said he understands that now, but back then, he'd only heard "you can't physically do it."

As much as I love Becca and Matthew, I don't see how either one of them could have achieved a career as a ballerina or an NFL player, respectively.

Becca, though, creates the most beautiful scrapbook cards, which she shares on her blog. She also is a skilled violinist and talented writer with her first book coming out next month. She also works with her Army chaplain in counseling couple. Her first cards, first violin lessons, first manuscript, first counseling sessions would probably be considered failures by most. She didn't give up.

Matthew, though, played football and ran cross country throughout high school, and while he was never the star athlete, he excelled helping the stars shine brighter. He graduated with honors from one of the best schools in Virginia. He's earning a double major in mathematics and anthropology with a minor in theology. He listened when I said, "Follow what interests you.

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” ~Henry Ford 

You may have a book in you.
You may not.

Either way, in the words of Juan Pablo, "Eeeeets okay."

Next time . . . Myth #2 Called by God to Write

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Maybe you didn't want to be a ballerina or an NFL player, but has there been a dream you had that you eventually had to give up? Or maybe you had a dream and people told you to give up, but despite the failures you pursued, and now today you can say ______.

 ~*~
Gina Welborn is the author of eight romances, including one ECPA bestseller and her newest release, Holly Daze, an Amazon bestseller in Christian Historical Romance and Short Reads. After a decade in Virginia, she now lives in Oklahoma with her pastor husband, their five Okie-Hokie children, and a slew of pets.

www.GinaWelborn.com

9 comments:

  1. Falling on the ice and breaking my leg in two places killed my dream of be a figure skater. Okay, so I was one month shy of my fortieth birthday. It didn't matter. The little girl in me, who once skated on the ice at the same time Peggy Fleming was practicing, was absolutely crushed.

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  2. Oh, Suzie. I'm sorry for your heartbreak.So why is it we hold on to dreams to be ______ well beyond any plausible reality?

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  3. It's that little girl's heart that still lives in one small corner, deep inside us.

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  4. Last year a friend of mine came to a Christy Barritt seminar with me. She's a home school mom, and basically all of her questions were focused on, "How can I make my kids be writers?" Finally all the writers in the room pretty much told her she can't, and stop trying. LOL. Her boys all had talent in that area, but clearly none of them had the needed passion.

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    1. As much as we writers think writing is all that great, it's really not all that great.

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  5. Puberty ruined my dreams of being a ballerina. Money (or the lack thereof) has been the limiting factor in most of the others. I've decided that's why I like to write... I get to live vicariously through my characters. It's cheaper, and if I find out I really don't LIKE owning a bakery (or whatever), there's no commitment, except to finish the story!
    On another note, I think it's weird that people want their kids to be writers... I want my kids to be happy. ;)

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    1. Over on the RWA PAN list, there's been discussion on how romances writers get asked about how they research for sex scenes. One suspense author responds, "The same way I research for murder scenes."

      Glad you decided you wouldn't like owning a bakery.

      There are way more better paying jobs than being a writer.

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  6. Oh, man! Who would WANT the job of writer?

    Okay, we Inkies do because it's how we're wired, but looking at it from outside -- the stress and the time commitment and the emotional drain and the complete lack of appreciation from most normal people (aka non-writers) and the miniscule hourly wage (for most of us) -- who in the world would want this? It really would be torture for someone not called to write.

    But I can't imagine doing anything else.

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  7. Great post, Gina. I've wanted to be a writer since I was in elementary school. In Grade 10, my teacher said I should be writing romance like the rest of the 15 yr old girls instead of cowboy-and-Indian fight scenes in the back of Conestoga wagon. Well guess what... I still write fight scenes, but now I add romance to my stories, too. :)

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