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Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Bridge the Chasm with Grace

Bret-LottLast summer I attended the Christy Awards Banquet in Denver. It’s an annual celebration of the best of Christian fiction and the room was filled with some bestselling authors along with editors and others who just love a good book. Best-selling author Bret Lott gave the keynote address. From his words, I could tell he was a bit out of his element—and even felt the need to give his background and validate why he was speaking to the group.

Why would I return to such an event months after the fact? After the dinner, I asked the Christy Awards Director, Donna Kehoe if the beautiful speech would be available online for others to read. As many writers, Bret wrote exactly what he said to the group, Donna promised to check on it. Yesterday Donna wrote and told me the keynote address had been posted on the Christy Award site for the last month. I’ll admit that I don't go to this site often so without her email, I would not have known about it.

Last night, I printed Bret’s speech and relived the experience of hearing it last summer. It stirred something inside of me and hopefully it will for you as well. One of his challenges to the audience was to be a Christian who writes rather than a Christian writer. It’s a message that resonated with me and some of the circumstances that I find for my writing life. It’s a good theme to revisit occasionally. Here’s one paragraph of a terrific keynote which stood out to me: “Christ’s stories surprised His listeners. They were unexpected, yet the surprise of them was totally logical and clear and, finally, the kind of surprise that makes good literature good literature: the surprise turn in a story—not of plot, but of character—when the reader must come face to face with himself, and his own failures, and the dust of his own life, a dust with which we are each of us fully familiar, but which we forget about or ignore or accommodate ourselves to. The dust of our lives that we have grown accustomed to, and which it takes a piece of art created in the spirit of Christ to remind us of ourselves, and our distance from our Creator—and the chasm that is bridged by Grace.”

Christian-Short-StoriesNo matter what you are writing can you bridge the chasm with grace? It’s worthy of our consideration. Whether you are writing nonfiction or fiction or if you are writing a magazine article or an article for something online, are you devoted to the craft of writing and producing the best possible end result?

One of the gifts each person at the Christy Awards received was a copy of The Best Christian Short Stories edited by Bret Lott. I love the short story but I confess that I haven’t had a chance to read this volume. It looks excellent and is worth knowing about it’s availability.

Let me conclude this entry on the writing life with the words Bret Lott used to wrap his keynote: “Rather, I’d like you to think, he wanted me to think for myself, and to create--and to edit, and to market, and to sell—books that will magnify Christ in the way that only I—you listening to me—can magnify Him. That's all. And it is work enough—and joy enough—to last each of us our own lifetime.”

Yes, it is work enough —and joy enough—for a lifetime.

3 Comment:

At 9:52 AM, Blogger The Koala Bear Writer Left a note...

I like the message that we are to be Christians who write, and that we are to write for God's glory. So often as writers we get distracted by other things - book sales, articles published, the grind to produce more. It's good to remember who our ultimate boss is and why He gave us our talents to begin with.

 
At 3:18 PM, Blogger Richard Mabry Left a note...

Terry,
Thank you for making that keynote address available. It convicts me, and is both an uncomfortable and an enabling thing. Uncomfortable because I see in myself the temptation to write the easy stuff, hoping that editors will recognize it as "Christian fiction" and give me a contract. Enabling because it encourages me to write fiction from a Christian worldview, even when it addresses messy things like divorce, and alcoholism, and the death of good people.
And no, this isn't about whether Christian fiction isn't "literary enough." It's about being the best writer possible, to the glory of the One who commissioned us to proclaim His truths.
Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for your postings.

 
At 10:32 AM, Blogger Crystal Left a note...

I've read quite a few books from the Christy nominated lists and have been reading the Christy nominees since the early days that award was established. I always watch these closely each year. The nominees have come a long way. I like that there are so many different genres now.

I really appreciate you posting the link to Bret Lott's speech. I printed it off.

I am thankful for your diligence to this blog and to keeping us aware of such interesting material. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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