This weekend I got to play guitar for worship, and one of the songs we did was called “To God Alone.” It was about the fact that nothing we do is for our own glory, our own fame, but is for God alone, to glorify him.
That’s an important thing for me to remember when I write. The temptation with this kind of hobby is to want to see my work published, and then to have people read it and say, “Wow, you’re really amazing.” And that temptation often manifests when I sit down to write. The thought comes unbidden, “What would really wow someone? What would really stand out?”
Want to know what’s weird? Whenever I follow that thought, I always come up dry. Because let’s face it, the world of speculative fiction is ubiquitous with “original ideas”, to the point that there really isn’t such a thing as “original” anymore. Most of what’s being done has been done before. You take any science fiction book off the shelf and you will find references to technology that someone else posited at in some other book, probably back in the 50s and 60s when this field first exploded. Look in any given fantasy novel and you will find shadows of songs sung by elves many years ago.
And the thing is, that’s okay. Because there isn’t a need to be the most original writer in the field; your audience isn’t looking for something entirely new. What they are looking for is something that makes them feel, something that provides them with an escape from real life, and characters that they can relate to. Yes, it’s neat when you have an original idea and can incorporate it, but it isn’t necessary to make the story worth reading. And sometimes the flashy new idea can obscure what you’re actually trying to accomplish with the story anyway.
I started by talking about God’s glory. See, I’ve discovered a secret for keeping my creative juices flowing. Maybe it doesn’t work for everyone, but it sure works for me. When I sit down to write, and that thought comes about how I can make it about me, I try to say a little prayer. I thank God for the gift of my creativity. I ask him to bless my work. I ask him to help me take myself out of the center of the picture, because that’s where he belongs. I ask him to glorify himself through me. And then I get started. I tell ya, ninety percent of the time I end that prayer and start going, and I find myself gleefully pounding the keys, my fingers not even keeping up with the thoughts pouring out of my head. I like to think that God is answering my prayer with a happy yes.
So today, I’m going to try and write to God’s glory.