“We have always found the Irish to be odd,
they refuse to be English
I love this quote. Partly because I am half Irish blood, and half because I think Churchill made some of the funniest, simple, and profound statements.
What does this statement have to do with writing?
A few years ago I while flipping through the channels, I was captured by this statement, “Everyone has some measure of prejudice.” I stopped for a moment to listen to this lady try and convince everyone of their inability to be non-prejudice. Soon I just laughed at the fact that she was referring to like and dislike. “Check this out,” she said, as if about to reveal some great, deep truth, “this young man told me, before the show that he did not like creamer in his coffee, because, ‘I like my coffee to be manly’, see that is a form of prejudice.”
I watched for about ten more minutes only to discover that I have some deep issues of prejudice-ism. Yea, my intolerance goes very far and includes: buttermilk, tomatoes, radishes, fried okra, cheap toilet paper, crotchless underwear, and much more.
All joking aside
Most of my life growing up in a Christian home, (nothing wrong with Christian homes, I am a Christian and hope I am creating a wonderful experience for my wife and kids in my Christian home) I was not allowed to read or listen to anything that was not bluntly and boldly Christian. I liked Jerry B. Jenkins, but I did not like the fact that he was my only option, “He is better and more wholesome than that evil Steven King. You’d never see those two guys socializing with each other, never!” my mother once said to me.
As my passion for writing began to increase my hunger for literature began to become harder and harder to satisfy. I started to visit libraries more, but I was afraid to pick up anything ‘secular’ for fear that the ground would open and swallow me alive, or lightening burst over my head.
I quickly discovered that I was raised to be prejudice towards most of the arts. One day, years later, I was home by myself watching the sci-fi channel, and I saw the Green Mile, edited for television (of course J). I loved the movie and wanted to find it at the local bookstore. When I finally got my hands on it, and discovered that it was a novel of short stories, I started burning through it like it was a juicy steak and I had not eaten for months.
I sat in the bookstore, laughing out loud, commenting, and just being stupidly absorbed, in that novel.
Then is happened
I took a moment to turn it over and see who this amazing author was and holy crap, it was Stephan King – basically I knew I had lost my soul. He was a master of horror, a messenger of evil, the King of kill, and …totally brilliant.
In that moment I found myself at a catastrophic intersection in my life. That day I put the book down. Later, however, I came to the conclusion that literature is an art, It is beautiful, and I can not believe that this wonderful beauty was not in some way a gift to man, by God. Call it God, the spirit of creativity, the muse, whatever- it is incredible.
As writers, we must write, but we must also read. So many creative minds work hard to wordsmith a literary masterpiece that we will miss, if we get hung up on silly rules (which count for nothing where eternity is concerned). If we allow our personal prejudices to create a wall, we can still be writers, but we limit our creativity.
I am not saying that we should all write horror, or mystery, or sci-fi, or whatever other genre there is out there, but in reading what you love (no matter who write it) and tasting other writers and genres, we discover writing techniques, new and amazing ways to describe a moment, and tips for plot that we may never find if we refuse to crack a few covers out side of our circle of preference.
I encourage you. Dom’t compromise your writing convictions, but feel free to explore the literary world. Be mature, not dictated by a specific taste. Believe me, once you just experiment and try new authors, you will find a lot of stuff you hate, but you will also connect with and discover a wonderfully wide expanse of beautifully crafted lands.
Feel free to browse the fields of sci-fi, or the hills of fiction-lit, the valleys of mystery and horror. Taste the refreshing waters of poetry, and climb the mountains of spiritual encouragement. If you have never read a ‘secular short story’ get your hands on some Ray Bradbury, Poe, or even Richard Matteson. If you have never read a spiritually encouraging story; grab some C.S. Lewis or Joan Anderson.
Try it all out.
Today I picked up the Writer’s Digest, and to my astonishment, guess who is on the cover? You guessed it, Steven King & Jerry B. Jenkins… together. Come to find out, they both really enjoyed and knew each others work. Steven was a fan of Jerry’s Left Behind Series, and Jerry was a huge fan of Steven’s Green Mile, and The Stand. These Goliaths of the writing world met and found that they could fully enjoy each other. Sure King said that he did not personally believe that the world would end like the book of revelation says it will, and Jenkins feels a little uncomfortable with some of the more horrific work of the horror King, but they could agree upon one unmovable foundation, writing is art, and it is a gift from God.
Let the English be English and the Irish be Irish. Taste it all, try something new. We writers stand before an international literary buffet. Grab a few plates, stuff yourself. It won’t all go to your hips, but it just might fill your head, with something wonderful.