I didn’t expect while reading a set of short stories as research for writing my own short stories, that the stories themselves would give me any epiphanal moments. My only intention was to read to learn how to structure the stories and develop the characters and settings.
But, of course, God had different plans.
I saved a large number of one-page short stories to read and came across one by the great Leo Tolstoy titled “Two Brothers and the Gold.” It reads like a long parable from the Bible in that it challenges assumptions about life, holiness, and spirituality.
It is a story about two selfless brothers who come across an enormous amount of gold and how they react to it.
I finished the story and realized that I am beginning my journey as a fiction author with the wrong intentions.
As so many writers do when starting out, I am having big dreams of book deals, published stories, bestseller lists, etc. I’m dreaming about classrooms reading my novels and finding new ways of thinking and living. I am already thinking practically about how my platform can catapult my stories to success.
When you think about the outcome in art, it is almost impossible to maintain the humility necessary to create.
Writing must be done for the sake of itself to maintain the inspiration necessary to do good work.
Here’s another thought that keeps coming into my head:
If I write stories with highly religious themes, will anyone read them? Will they only be useful to a small audience?
The answer is, it doesn’t matter.
This is important. The answer isn’t even, “yes, you should write for a smaller audience and make an impact on their lives.”
Don’t write to be successful or to reach a lot of people.
Don’t write to please anyone.
Write a story because you have to.
This is the source of true inspiration.
Even the attempt to “please God” through writing or any art can shift the motivation from love to fear of disappointing him.
Instead, write what Inspiration calls you to write and pray that it will, indeed, please God.