Monday, September 23, 2013

Writing with humility.

Ezra Kneels in Prayer - Gustave Dore

I'm back! Yes, I'm finally feeling up to snuff again. Oh boy, I can't tell you how good feeling up to snuff feels. Perhaps sometime I will do a post on how to write when one is sick. That will have to wait till another time, because there's another idea that's been on my mind for awhile. It's writing with humility.

When I told my editor I wanted to do a post on writing with humility... she seemed to find it really amusing.  I'm not the most humble of people. I swing like a pendulum between arrogance and insecurity. Both are obstacles to good writing, or at least, to good christian writing.

To be sure, the arrogant and the insecure can write (Metamorphosis, Old Man and the Sea). Often they have a lot to say because so much emotion goes into their ego or lack thereof. The writing of any man who focuses to much on himself will always be stiff and wooden, whether it takes the form of fear or confidence. For a long time this was my greatest obstacle to writing, and honestly it still is. My concerns about what other people will think often take precedent over enjoyment.

That's the problem. To make good art, you have to lose yourself in what you are doing. It was never intended to glorify the artist. It was intended to glorify God. Or at least, if you are not a christian, to glorify something outside oneself. All the greatest works of art do so. No-one reads Dickens because of his interesting self analysis, or admires Michelangelo for his self portraits. We find their works beautiful because they take us outside of ourselves. All beauty does, in a way. To make anything beautiful, you must first foster a some sort of sense of humility.

We need to get over ourselves. One of the biggest illusions we have about writing is that it's about us--it isn't. Good writing isn't about sharing our vision with the world, it's more about seeing God's vision of it played out. To write well, you need to lose yourself in your work the same way you lose yourself in reading a book. Once we get out of ourselves, then we find out that our writing is as marvelous and terrible as the world around it: lost echoes of the greater creation. That will give you greater fulfillment and greater enjoyment then anything you can produce on your own.

"Humility is the mother of giants. One can see great things from the valley; only small things from the peak." - G.K Chesterton. 

No comments:

Post a Comment