Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why I Write

Last week the National Writing Project celebrated the National Day on Writing, inviting writers around the country to blog, tweet, and pontificate on the reasons why they write. True to form I’m running about a week behind. Here are the top reasons why I write:
Christa Richert, Writing Mosaic
  1. It’s what I can do. I have a skill and I can’t imagine not using it, improving it. I like to think of God’s gifts to us as superpowers. Some people cook, some build, some lead, some teach. I write. What’s your superpower?
  2. It’s hard work that brings me joy. I always say that it’s not the writing I like so much as the finished product, the accomplishment of a job well done. I hope it also brings readers joy. What work do you do that brings joy to you?
  3. It’s how I put my beliefs on display. Writing is one way I work out my ideas, questions, doubts, and confidence about God’s work in this world he created. It’s my witness, and I hope it’s a witness that invites public discussion. How do you “talk” about your faith?
  4. Good stories inspire people to thoughtful living. I hope to write stories that fall into that category. It’s a worthy goal. What life goals do you have?

Maybe you don’t write, but you do something else that is just right for the person God made you to be. I hope you find it, love it, and do it with your whole heart.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Erin's Guest Blog at The Book Club Cookbook

Visit The Book Club Cookbook to read my answer to the question, "Why would a displaced pastor become a baker?" You can also download The Baker's Wife Readers' Guide and Peter Reinhart's mouthwatering rosemary-potato bread recipe. While you're there, fill out the form and be entered to win a free copy of The Baker's Wife. The Book Club Cookbook is giving away fifty copies! Contest ends November 17.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hard Choices

On the wall above my desk is a tack strip bearing note cards with writing tips I've collected. There are only a few, considering how many I actually employ when I sit down to write. But these represent the ones that I've had to learn, to intentionally think about on a regular basis.
     One of them is from Philip Gerard's Writing a Book that Makes a Difference. I wrote down this passage without noting the context, which I've since forgotten: "... choices are rarely completely clear, and even doing the right thing can bring about unfortunate and unforeseen consequences." In writing I have applied this observation to thinking about my characters' life conflicts and layering them with realistic complexity.
     Recently it has struck me that the reason this principle works in fiction is because it is a true observation of real life. We Christians are taught to believe that right and wrong choices are usually black and white. And some of them are. But it seems to me that as I've grown older, the number of life choices that fall into gray areas has only increased. Some choices are less clear, and sometimes doing the right thing doesn't always lead to ideal results. 
     When I'm writing fiction, this truth makes for interesting drama. In life, it leads to a lot of heartache that can be soothed only faith in a loving and merciful God. How many times have you done "the right thing" only to face an undesirable fallout? How do you work through it?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Metaphors for Life: A Living Bridge

In my novel The Promises She Keeps, hero Chase, who has autism, associates people with trees. He sees the troubled Zack as a strangler fig, a powerful tree known for choking the life out of other trees. But he tells Zack, "You could be a stunning tree. If I were to draw for you, I would draw a Moreton Bay fig that is larger than the one in Santa Barbara, California. It would be loaded with birds and surrounded by a beautiful park that people from all over the world would come to see."

When I saw this video about how the people of Meghalaya, India, have worked with strangler figs to create a life-saving solution to a serious regional problem, I thought about Chase and Zack, and I thought about how much potential we have in our own lives to overcome evil with good. It's not possible for me to see something like this without think of it as a metaphor for the way we choose to face the troubles of life. These people have taken the long view. They work with what they are given. They are teaching it to their children. And the result is lovely.