Monday, February 11, 2008

Q and A: On Studying and Writing

QUESTION: I wondered whether you study [God's word] according to what you're gonna write, or do you write according to what you've studied? As you study does an idea spring out at you and you write about it or is it the other way around? And how do you know it's God's idea and not your own? How do you perservere with the story? How did God inspire you to write things like 'The Guardian King' series?

ANSWER: As I've said in this blog before, I believe the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit gives certain men the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher for the training and equipping of the saints for the Christian life (Eph 4:11,12) and that each of us are assigned to a specific man (I Th 5:12), as the man himself is assigned a specific congregation (1 Pe 5:2,3).

Having found one's right pastor-teacher, the Christian's "sacrifice" (Ro 12:1) is then to bring his body to the place where he can hear his pastor's teaching on a daily basis, either face to face (which is preferable) or by means of techology (which is what I've had to do). The pastor then is the one who decides what I'm going to study, not me.

Yes, I could pick and chose from among his many lessons, but I've learned that is not the best way to go about it. We need the whole realm of doctrine, not just the subjects that interest us or that we think we need. Plus God the Holy Spirit often speaks specifically through the pastor to me regarding events going on in my life at the time regardless of the subject matter of the lesson.

With that as my base, I might do an additional study on the side based on what I've chosen to write about. For example, I'm incorporating nephilim in my current book, so I've done a separate study on that (though of course, the whole idea for including them came from my pastor's teachings on them a couple years ago).

As to how exactly I choose what I'm going to write about... I go by what interests me, what I care about, what occurs to me. Frankly it's a mysterious process and usually I don't even know what I am writing about until I have at least a first draft.

How do I know if it's God's idea? It has to line up with scripture for one. And of course, I pray constantly for His guidance in the matter. After that, I don't much worry about it.

In the case of Black Box, I came up with the idea and submitted it, thinking there was no way Bethany House would want it. When they did, I knew it was definitely God's will for me to write it. With the Legends of the Guardian King series, which didn't get published for 25+ years after I started working on it, it was just that I loved it and couldn't give up on it. I know it was God's will and God's idea and that He intended me to do it. The idea and the desire just never let up, despite numerous disappointments and frustrations. It was something like Jeremiah's "burning in my bones" that would not be shut up.

Not to say I didn't struggle with doubt. I prayed about it, asking God if I should keep at it. Since the desire never left and I continued to have the time to pursue it, I concluded that I was to keep on. Moreover, I knew I was to write for God -- not for publication, nor other people, but because He'd given me a gift. I wanted to exercise it in that way, and I would trust Him to do whatever He wished with it. I knew that I was in His plan because I was obeying the commands to "worship by means of (the filling of the) Spirit and of (learning/applying) truth (God's word, of course)" and that was all that was necessary.

I wanted to do it, I believed God had given me the desire and the ability to do it (and others I respected agreed). I would take a risk on Him and go forward with it. Bottom line is, "sure" does not equal faith. If you are sure then there's no faith. And without faith it's impossible to please Him.