Contemplations of Purpose

In Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle writes:

To serve should be a privilege, and it is to our shame that we tend to think of it as a burden, something to do if you’re not fit for anything better or higher.

Later in the same chapter:

When the artist is truly the servant of the work, the work is better than the artist.

When I think about a muse or my creativity or whatever you want to call that within each of us, I wonder about why it is that humans are drive to art of one form or another. I’ve read several different theories from several different people, but I won’t review all of those here. After thinking about it for many years, I realize for me it’s in response to how I experience my life.

A friend and I talked at lunch a couple of weeks ago about the content guidelines for some Christian publishing houses. I told my friend that I didn’t strive to teach some universal truth, I just wanted to entertain with my writing.

I realize this is not the whole truth. Of course, I want to entertain, but I want something more. I want to touch something deep and human within a reader. I want to connect with another human being who will respond to my stories whether it’s with “Yeah, she gets it.” or with “She’s an idiot and has no clue.”

I want to be able to do as Ms. L’Engle says and serve the work.


2 thoughts on “Contemplations of Purpose

  1. Good observation. I waffle every day between “I don’t care, I’m doing this for me” and “I really hope someone connects with this writing”.

    I read an article from my writing friend David Teems and he talks about excellence as part of your formula for writing, and that it’s all God’s anyway. His article is titled “The Duty of Poets” was reposted in Transparent Magazine, and while it’s a bit long for our attention spans, his logic is sound.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    1. Jason, that’s a great article by your friend. He definitely “gets” it. It’s hard, some days, to reconcile the desire to honor God and the desire to just provide a couple of hours of escape for a reader. Honestly I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive, but for me it’s a fine balancing act.
      Thanks for your comments and for sharing the link to your friend’s article.

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