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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)

TITLE: The Greatest Mystery
By Ruth Stromquist
04/28/10


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Dear Sir,

I appreciate the invitation to write your biography. It's certainly a tempting offer, and very flattering, considering your fame. Also, living in a condo on beachfront property in Hawaii during the research phase would, of course, be a fun perk.

However, I must decline for the following reasons.

Although I'm thankful you were impressed by my last book; reality is, I felt much of that particular story was given me directly by the Holy Spirit. A few underlying themes I hadn't intended appeared in the plot, and ended up tying the storyline together more than I'd planned. Plus, many reviewers have commented on strong symbols and analogies I wasn't aware I'd written into it. And the story ended up strengthening my own faith. In sum, it seems the good Lord gave me Grace on it.

I was actually thinking about quitting the writing life completely, about midway through the third chapter -- had given up totally -- when I felt led to sit down, after much prayer, and give one more try at writing it. Only then did things start to fall into place.

In fact, I still have mixed emotions about continuing to pursue writing at all. Although I've always thought I was called to be a writer, it has never really shown any signs of coming to fruition until recently. I've tried many times to develop in the craft, only to repetitively end up quitting in frustration, putting it on the shelf.

Each time, after limited periods of enthusiastic work at it, inspiration then dries up and I feel re-directed, for some years, to other pursuits.

I know, of course, it's an occupation that takes much practice and learning in a variety of skill areas. That part has always been straightforward; and despite your kind words, I still have much developing to do there. But the actual ability to produce anything with those skills is what's so variable. Sometimes I can produce stories of content far above my skill level; other times I can't produce anything worth reading at all. Sometimes I can easily dash off 20 pages in a session; other times I can work hours over a single paragraph. It's not based on mood or effort or how disciplined my approach, or anything else in my life personally measurable.

It's one of the biggest mysteries of my life.

However, during those times when it flows well, I feel much definitely comes from the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I even speculate that the Lord lets me work at it for a Season, and helps me develop more, and then purposefully cuts it off for awhile again; because it's not His Time for final fulfillment yet. (And looking back on a few of the stories I wrote in those earlier years, I tend to think it's a good thing I didn't become a writer fully, back then; because I was still confused and immature in the faith in many ways. I know I would have regrets now if some of those earlier pieces had actually been published.)

However, getting back to your specific project... Although at the moment, the "green light" seems to be steadily "on" for writing in general, and that part is a "go"; your book is not something I'm free to consider.

The book's proposed direction is not, on the surface, opposed to the Christian faith, and would, of course, have entertainment value; however, neither is it at all of benefit in bringing people nearer to God, or in strengthening those who know Him.

This may amuse you to read, Sir ... But when I first gave my life to the Lord, I sent all my personal journals, notebooks, fiction, (and even the magazine and newspaper clippings of my articles) straight to the dump. Years of work were burned in the midst of common trash and dung cast off by the world.

In Christ all things became new, including my writing life.

There came a time, some years after that, when I went to the altar of a tiny country church and surrendered the writing even more completely to my Lord, pledging to work on focusing on His priorities as my own. I promised never again to write something for the sake of money, unless I felt it also had some deeper purpose in Him.

Unfortunately, your biography does not qualify.

Thanks also for the suggested million dollar advance outlined in the proposed contract.

It was a kind offer.

Respectfully,
Chris T. Ian

***********
Author's notes:

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (KJV) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;”

Philippians 3:8-9 (KJV) “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”


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This article has been read 383 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/29/10
I love that your muse is the Holy Spirit. I laughed about turning down a million bucks, but someone as dedicated to the Lord as your MC would certainly do that. Very creative in formatting it as a letter.
Joan Campbell05/02/10
Wow - this is so deep and thought provoking! Very special.

I love the letter format - so different. Also love the flashes of humour in it. I could so relate to your description of the mystery of the writing process.

I think your article's greatest strength is the voice of principled Chris, reminding us all Who it is we write for! Thank you for that lesson - it's all too easy to be drawn to pleasing ourselves or the world instead.
AnneRene' Capp 05/03/10
Awesomely excellent in every respect!
Carol Penhorwood 05/03/10
I can so relate to confusion over writing talent! Sometimes it comes...sometimes it doesn't. And when the Holy Spirit is in it, it just flows.
Well crafted.
Beth LaBuff 05/05/10
You describe quite a selfless journey for Chris (and I appreciate his thoughts and his creative name).