Thursday, August 22, 2013

Crossing Genres: Poetry, Fiction, and Non-fiction

Well, I'm in the process of putting my toe into three pools. Some people say this is a bad idea, while others have done it quite successfully and encourage such an adventure.

Honestly, I really don't care what "they" say. I'm doing it. That's final. It's done.

I'm particularly inspired by the non-fiction work of several of my favorite "children's" authors - C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle. Both these individuals were people of faith and their spirituality profoundly influenced their writing - not just their fiction, but also their non-fiction.

I'm finding that to be the case for me as well.

It is good to write fiction. It is good to write good fiction. But how can I sit back and not put my two cents in on issues that matter to me in a non-fiction way? Yes, my blogs can do that for me to some extent. Perhaps they will at some point develop into some kind of book or series themselves (stranger things have happened). But a blog is a different kind of thing. The writing I'm talking about has a very different purpose, and certainly one devoid of the diary or even essay form that is so popular in the blogosphere.

It's for this reason I published my poetry collection. It's for this reason I am in the process of revising my world religion curriculum. Do they speak to the same audience? Maybe there is some overlap. I'm not sure. But I'm acutely aware that most of the readers of these three areas will likely not overlap. I'm comfortable with the idea that different people will need to be reached for these very different creations.

And that's okay.

I doubt Lewis or L'Engle thought their non-fiction pieces would be avidly devoured by the same readers of their most famous children's series. If they did, I think we would have labelled both of them "delusional." Were (are) their non-fiction pieces read as widely as their fiction? I doubt it. Does it make their contribution to spiritual discourse less valuable? Certainly not.

I don't write for fame. I write because my soul burns. There is too much to hold inside - it must find voice. It must find expression. I must call out into the dark, loud and clear. I would love more than an echo of response or a hollow nothingness. I would love to have a sea of voices saying "yes" to my words. But whether I hear them or someone else hears them a long time from now doesn't matter. I cannot know what my words do. All I know is I must speak them - I must write them. From then on, their lives are their own.

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