Sunday, October 28, 2012

Preach It, Sister Flannery!

"The writer can choose what he writes about, but he cannot choose what he is able to make live." 
~ Flannery O'Connor

Part of my "Sean shelf"
A Facebook friend sent this as a comment on a recent discussion ( and I have to admit that the truth of this quote really hit me. It's completely beside the point that I'm a huge fan of Flannery O'Connor however. No, really, it has no bearing on it. (Okay, methinks I doth protest too much.)

Anyway, it hit me again as a strong reminder that as writers, we have no control over what actually sticks with readers and what falls by the wayside. Will it be our Holy the Firm or our Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, our As I Lay Dying or our "Rose for Emily"? Will it be the work that makes us look like the best of all saints or the one that makes us look like the worst of all possible sinners?

We simply can't make that decision for our readers. They make it for us. 

As I look back on my own work,is there anything I'm not proud of in the sense that I regret what it says about me? No. Not even the Dominatrix book for Gene Simmons. I'd do it all over again. That book speaks truth. It does. It tells of the emptiness of a person who is driven like the preacher of Ecclesiastes to pursue a path that ultimately ends in vanity and nothing. It doesn't hold back, but it speaks truth.

My pulp work? Nope. Nothing there either. Those tales are filled with sacrificial action and folks risking their lives for others, trying to do the better thing, even when such a course of action is unclear.

So regardless of what sticks, if any of my work even does, I stand ready.

As such, it's important to me that I write what I believe I'm called to write. That I follow the dictates of Scripture to the best of my understanding and the teaching of the spirit of God. That I listen to the still small voice prompting me toward this and away from that. That I remain a true example of being not just who I am in Christ, but who I am period, not putting on airs or writing for a pre-fab submarket so I can be a best-seller by preaching to the choir and not ruffling pharisaic feathers, neither hiding my light under a bushel nor trying to sneak in "spiritual stuff" to fool "the lost" into reading it and suddenly saying the magic prayer.

In short, I have keep walking that straight, narrow line that gets hard to see sometimes and be a fallen man saved by grace through faith telling stories that I hope come from the kind of heart that says something that causes people to pick up some truth to ponder as they read. And if they can get even a little bit of truth from me and my stories, then hopefully, they'll keep reading and find out that old saying about the truth is actually, well, true... the Truth will set you free.