Saturday, October 22, 2011

Reflection: Why Write?

I'm going to be writing a series of posts about my novel, The Champion, in the coming days and weeks.  As I try to convince people that my fiction is worth reading (and even buying!), I think it will be helpful for me to consider why I have done what I have done.  After all, if I can not give a good reason for someone to take interest in my work, then what is the point of publishing it?

This post will be an examination of the reason why I wrote my novel.  If you are a writer, it might contain some thoughts that will resonate at the same pitch as your thoughts about your own work.  Or not.  But I think that going through this process will be worthwhile for me.

I believe that the overwhelming majority of writers write because it brings them pleasure.  Writing is interesting, challenging, and fun!  My primary reason for writing is because I like to do it...

It is funny how as I wrote, "I like to do it," I said to myself, That's a lie, you love to do it!  And then that thought was immediately followed by, Hold on, you love to write at certain times, and only like to do it at other times.  This last thought I hold to be true.  I always like to write, but I only sometimes love to write.  I wonder why that is.

I think I know.  I enjoy putting words together in creative ways.  I think it is cool to calibrate countless quandaries, quotes, and queries into prose and poetry.  I really like alliteration!  I like the feel of fitting words into wonderful patterns of meter and rhyme.  I like constructing towering verbal behemoths and tiny linguistic pearls alike.  I like the constant struggle to avoid cliches, and I like finding those rare instances when using the right cliche really hits the spot.  I even like editing my work to try to make it better.

But what I love about writing is singular: I love to tell of beautiful things.  The joy that comes from encountering beauty is so... incredible, immense, invigorating, intoxicating, and irresistible that I can not help but try to share it.  To experience True Beauty is itself something that kindles the fires of the soul, but to speak beautifully of Beauty, to tell truly of the Truth... that is a thing so exquisite that no net of words ever could be woven so fine as to ensnare it.  The very experience of doing so is a burning that extinguishes all attempts to put it into words.  And that double joy, experiencing Beauty and then telling of It, is not additive but multiplicative; and exponential when another person is helped to see the Beauty I saw because of the words I wrote.

And yet, it is not right to claim authorship of the words, for, if they contain even the smallest shard of True Beauty, then they owe their existence not to me, but to the Source of Beauty that exists outside of me.  If I tell Truly of Beauty, it is only because I somehow have reflected a ray of that original Beauty, not because I am its source.  And acknowledging that truth, accepting that I am a mirror or a prism, is itself another great joy.

Is my novel Truly Beautiful?  I hope that, somewhere in its pages, there is something Truly Beautiful.  I hope that it is the beginning of a story that will have some small measure of Beauty.  But I am compelled to say that any True Beauty within it is not my own, but merely a glint of a far off light.

And that is why I agree with those writers who say that writing fiction is essentially seeing a scene and then reporting what happened.  It is having a vision that grows ever clearer as it is recorded.  The writing strengthens the memory of Beauty; it does not replace it.  Well, if the writing is, or at least tries to be, Truly Beautiful, it strengthens the memory of the vision.  If not, then the Beauty that was experienced may be forgotten, or it may be transformed into a horror.  Woe to the writer who sees Beauty and then writes what is ugly; he has wounded his own soul.

There is a lot of talk about the New Evangelization in Catholic circles nowadays.  I think that, at its heart, it is about trying to use new media to tell Truly about the Beauty that is the Good; the Beauty of God.  It is about the Glory of God, or maybe even the Greater Glory of God.

That is why I write.  For the Greater Glory of God.

At least, that is why I write when I am at my best.  Usually I am far from my best.  But, even so, I still write.  And there is a lot of writing left to do.

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