Monday, April 06, 2009

Be Not Ashamed

By Ali Cross

At a recent critique group meeting, we discussed the effect our values have on our writing. Two of us are writing young adult fiction for the national market and in so doing have found our characters caught up in the troubles of the world. It’s necessary for them to be there, to be challenged, tested and tried, as young adults are these days—but we also have a responsibility to our faith, to our beliefs and even to our God to not compromise our righteousness for the sake of selling a book.

In Psalms 119:80 we read, “Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.”

An LDS author who had published a best-selling book in the national market was once asked on a syndicated talk show if her religion had any bearing on the work she had written. To my dismay, this author replied that no, in fact, it had not.

If I should ever have the opportunity to be in a similar position, I hope I could respond that my religion had everything to do with my book. It is a fallacy to believe that as writers our religion holds no sway. Latter Day Saints are a mystery and a fascination to the world at large and people will always read what we write with greater attention to the proof of our faith.

We must write in a fashion that is in keeping with the covenants we have made, to the faith that we profess to hold. While in writing, as in our very lives, we find ourselves in the world, we must also hold ourselves apart from the world.

Such a mandate can be quite a challenge for us—our characters must similarly be in the world but not of the world. It is not true that in order to sell our books they must be sensational and titillating. I think that most people hunger for truth and righteousness, but they just don’t know where to find it, how to find it, or even how to recognize it once they do.

That’s where we, as Latter Day Saint writers, can be powerful instruments in God’s hands.

If we are prayerful in our craft, we may be blessed to create stories that are contemporary and immediate enough to reach that national market for which we strive, but that carry with them a truth and goodness that is so desperately needed in the world today.

It’s not easy, but we can do it. We must do it, if we wish to stand spotless before the throne of God. “O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee” (Psalms 25:20.)

Trust in the Lord, let Him be your partner as you write, and you will find a way to be true to yourself, to your faith and to your God—and still find success in your writing.


Annette Lyon said...

I agree. That author makes me sad. Regardless of whether it's intentional, your personal belief system and values WILL work their way into your writing, and that writer was no exception. Too bad she couldn't see that--or admit to it.

Carolyn V. said...

I agree, how can it NOT get into one's writing?

LexiconLuvr said...

I'm just going to copy everyone and say, "same here."
I cannot write without my beliefs. That doesn't mean my characters always choose to behave well or make good choices (conflict and all that) but my soul is in the writing and thus, so too will be my beliefs. I hope I can do justice to fire in my heart and the truth that is my religion.

Ali Cross said...

I feel just like all of you guys. To be fair the author of whom I spoke did later admit that her faith DID influence her writing--but her first interview, she claimed it did not. I think later she realized what an example would be made of her, but I think all of us need to be aware of that.

People are watching us. We need to be an example all the time.

Thanks for stopping by and for commenting!