I was reading Matthew 13: 10-17 in The Message version of the Bible. The apostles asked Jesus, "Why bother telling stories?" I paid close attention to his reply because I'd often been asked the same question and come up with nothing better than, "I enjoy it" which sometimes seemed too self-indulgent to justify.
Here is what our Lord and Saviour said.
"You've been given insight into God's kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn't been given to them. Whenever somebody has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That's why I tell stories; to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they're blue in the face and not get it."
I thought that was a fantastic way of putting it. As I grew up, I always loved reading fiction but used to put it aside as a treat for my spare time when more 'important' work had been done. When I started writing it, I assumed that, of course, others would be approaching my books the same way. Now I'm trying to get into the habit of acknowledging that just because my work seems especially created for people's leisure moments, it does not follow that said work is "light-weight" or frivolous. In fact, our leisure moments may be the perfect time when we are most receptive to those things of depth and significance.
I searched around to see if I could find a fiction writer's creed, as other occupations have really good ones. When I couldn't find any, I decided to write my own. I've found numbers 6, 7 and 8 on my list a bit more challenging than 1 to 5, but it's been great to have it in front of me as a reminder.
Other fiction authors, if you like it, please feel welcome to share it with me.
FICTION WRITER'S CREED
1) I will do all I can to stir readers' hearts, to create fertile ground for insights and understandings to flow freely to them from God.
2) I will study and ponder God through His Word and prayer, to keep a clean heart toward Him and stay sensitive to what I believe He would have me write.
3) I will offer my very best to make people smile, cry, laugh and enjoy every moment of time they've put aside to read my books.
4) I will re-write and edit to make the finished result as polished as it can be. I will accept the sacrifice of hard work and time involved.
5) I will continue to study the craft of writing, willing to learn more.
6) I will not focus on praise, money or recognition as a gauge of how I'm going. I will be content to be a spark of light where God has placed me, trusting Him to open doors.
7) Having said that, I will look out, being ever vigilant for opportunities to introduce my work to people through speaking events such as talks and workshops, or written words such as articles or guest blogs.
8) I will take setbacks in my stride as an inevitable part of the journey but I will not let them turn me away from my chosen path or cause me to give up.
Paula Vince is an Australian homeschooling mother and award-winning author of Christian fiction. She loves to evoke tears and laughter. She also enjoys writing with the hum of the dishwasher or washing machine in the background, as it makes her feel as if she's working productively.