My Latest Publication
2 Comments »31st March, 2006; Category: Christian, General, Magazines, Poetry
I received a magazine in the mail this morning. It was the current (April 2006) issue of Compendium, a literary magazine I’ve subscribed to for many years. It is the newsletter of the Australian Christian Writers’ Fellowship which was founded in 1971. It includes letters, stories, poems and articles written by members. From time to time it includes writing hints and ideas as well as articles about writing. Sometimes there are details of writing competitions.
Over the years I have had a few poems and articles included in Compendium. This issue included my poem ‘A Handful of Sunshine’. This poem was written a few years ago when my wife was in hospital recovering from surgery.
I was just searching the web for any sites for Christian writers in Australia and I came across yours. What advice can you give to Christians writing poetry and prose in today’s society and how do you arrive at the decision as to the placement of God and Christianity within your works?
If I aim to place God in my work my writing is forced and doesn’t always come fluently and if I ignore God in my work I feel bad. What advice can you give?
Hi there wizabuff. Sorry for the delay in replying. Your questions and comments have made me think deeply about my writing – and that is always good.
There are no easy answers to your dilemma. It is the same problem faced by many writers, not just those who deliberately write for the Christian market (which is very small in Australia).
Who is the intended audience? If I write for children I write in a certain style. If I write devotional material it takes on a different style. If I write a poem for my wife it can have a very intimate style but if I write a non-fiction article for my writing blog it will be universal in nature becasue I have thousands of readers. So keeping in mind one’s audience has to be uppermost in the writer’s mind. This is a problem on a blog – the world is the audience (well potentially anyway).
As to the decision on writing for the Christian audience the same decision needs to be made. Some of my poems are essentially prayers of praise or worship addressed to God. The Psalms are excellent models of this form. There is no question as to whether God is integral to the writing; he is essential. Try to think of speaking to God directly in the poem or prose, like one would in a prayer. Other people can gain immense inspiration from this type of writing. Or it can remain purely between you and God as an act of worship.
Trying to force references to God in your writing can come make it sound stilted, false, unnatural and downright cringe-worthy. It often will not work. This is where practice comes into it. Write, write, write – and then write some more. Every day. In all kinds of genre. Set some goals like “I will write 200 words every day” or “I will write for twenty minutes every day.” Keep writing and that special style and YOUR unique voice will develop.
You said “If I ignore God in my work I feel bad.” Who said you should feel guilty? Where did that come from? Probably 95% of my writing never mentions God or Jesus or Christianity or church or religion – BUT GOD IS IN EVERY WORD. How come? I believe I’ve been called to write, and that calling came as a child. I got sidetracked for 35 years in teaching and only treated it as a hobby. Now I’ve retired I do it seriously, daily, methodically, with serious goals (4 hours minimum and 1000 words minimum per day). And I do it prayerfully so that God is there directing and inspiring EVERY word.
This comment is becoming the basis of an article. Thank you for inspiring me. Check back soon to read all about it.