10/09/2006

The Imp in the Closet

Why do we create--

It's a question artists, musicians, and yes, writers, have asked for centuries and
one that will continue to be discussed in classrooms, books, and coffee shops
for as long as people seek to express their creative gifts. For the Christian
writer, the question "why do I write" is not merely a call to examine
intellectual motive but to search the heart.

Ask a roomful of us why we do what we do, and you'll mostly get variations
on the same themes-- glorifying God, spreading His truth, and giving vent to
the fire burning in our bones. These things aren't just easy to say; they are
what we sincerely want our writing to be about. Our redeemed hearts desire to
create out of pure, selfless service to God...but our hearts are not yet fully
redeemed. And neither are our motives for writing.


I suspect I'm not the only one who has a closet in the back of their mind, in
which lives a short, rather grubby imp that has nothing better to do but stir
up selfish reasons to write, distracting me from my true calling. The promise
of a nice, fat paycheck. The sound of applause. A chance to make a name for
ourselves. I don't like to admit to myself that the imp is quite noisy at times,
even though I try to ignore him. I don't like it that no matter how many times
I clean out the closet, he comes back, causing my to doubt even my most
sincere desires.

When does recognizing a God-sent call to words become pride? When does
wanting to use words to reach others become presumption? When does
wanting to present a beautiful, well-done story turn into a desire to please
man? And when does the desire to communicate truth become a desire
for someone to listen to me talk?

The imp knows his craft. Sometimes I find myself wondering how it is that
any of my so-called service to God will pass through the fire without
evaporating into smoke. A sense of self-betrayal rises, with the words
of Paul, to my lips-- that which I would do, I do not. That which I would
not do, I do.
It would seem that every time I renounce the path of self, it
weaves another by-way to beckon my feet. I suppose that is why we are
told to daily take the cross.

Our writing is not exempt from the war which wages in every part of our lives--
whether we will serve God or serve ourselves. When we are most weary of the
corruption within us, when we most long to shed our old nature like a
worn-out skin, we can take comfort in that God sees our desires to serve Him.
Through His grace, He strengthens the parts of our hearts that long to commit
our words to Him, and the longer we spend in His presence, the fainter the
voice of the imp grows. It is in this slow, beautiful renewal of soul that we
find hope that despite the weakness of our flesh, we are able to strive daily
to create in His honor. We find hope that someday we too may stand before
him and hear well done.

Karen
ladyprufrock.blogspot.com

8 comments:

Becky said...

Well put, Karen. These lines especially: It would seem that every time I renounce the path of self, it
weaves another by-way to beckon my feet. I suppose that is why we are told to daily take the cross.


Thanks for an honest look at this aspect of writing.

Becky

Frank Creed said...

Said imp is a product of your "publication" dream.
Once you're published, imp's control over your adrenaline valve is gone. Once you've experienced how your powers can be used for good, motivation is purified.
If that doesn't work, try mothballs.

To God be the glory,
Scott “Frank Creed” Morris
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
e-mail: frankcreed@insightbb.com
Home: http://www.frankcreed.com
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Andrea Graham said...

and if he can't get to you through success and self-interest, he'll find other ways to compromise you, so I've found.

Lady Prufrock said...

::Said imp is a product of your "publication" dream. Once you're published, imp's control over your adrenaline valve is gone::

I have found that for myself, the standard of what I have to do in order to consider myself a "real" writer gets constantly higher. Each step toward forward, then, only pushes the bar back more. I have been published, but it's hasn't really given me any added certainty that I can actually write. In fact, it exposes more insecurities.
Of course, one of my besetting sins is perfectionism. Combine that with the residues of a legalistic upbringing in which /nothing/ was good enough and I have a big bullseye for the imp to sling mudpies at.

::Once you've experienced how your powers can be used for good, motivation is purified::

For me, the biggest weakness is doubting I've been given any gift at all, and feeling a constant need to prove to myself that I can actually write. I've seen my writing used for good, and I've carried my it to the altar time and time again, seeking the purifying flame. But the depravity of my heart still taints the best of intentions. I think that's one of the reasons we'll get to cast our crowns at Jesus' feet...because it's only by his grace that we are even able to serve him.

:: If that doesn't work, try mothballs::

Lol. Or lysol. Out darn spot!

Andrea Graham said...

perfectionism isn't a sin, thinking you're righteous enough to make it into heaven without any help from God is.

Me, I'm plagued by both a fear of failure, and a fear of success! Go figure! For that matter, I'm also both too timid, and too outspoken. At least I've yet to express the latter combo at the same time.

Andrea Graham said...

by help, I should have said intervention....

vbtenery said...

Karen:

Very profound ariticle. I enjoyed reading it.

Blessings,

Virginia

Deborah Cullins Smith said...

Well spoken, Karen. We all have an imp lurking somewhere in our souls. Thankfully, it can't make it to our spirits because God Almighty dwells there. We may struggle all our lives with the imp, but God has given us a way to clip his leathery wings a little. We can write him here and there in our stories, expose his tricks and talons, and thereby lessen his ability to deceive. I like that! Don't get even --- Conquer!

deb