I was checking out the home page for the American Christian Fiction Writers because I was contemplating joining (in addition to being a member of the CWG). While I was on the page, they were featuring one of their authors, Laura Hilton. In her bio, one of the comments she makes is that she wants to make sure all of her writing glorifies God.
As much as I disagree with — and, in truth, must condemn as false — her religion, I have to admire her motive here. It made me question whether that is what I am doing with my writing.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, For the Greater Glory of God, is written on every one of my handwritten letters, not only in recognition and adoration of my Creator, but also as a reminder of the purpose of what I am doing (and it helps cut down on sharing gossip).
Since I add words to my novel via Word, it’s not as if I type AMDG before every session, but I’m starting to think that I should. Is there any better way to ensure that my writing is true to my intent as a writer than to pray about it? And praying before a writing session isn’t something I do with any great frequency. If I do, it’s more along the lines of offering my writing to God to do with as He wills, and that helps me to let go and write because then there’s no pressure. I just do my best and forget the rest (thank you, Tony Horton).
If I think about whether I am glorifying God in my writing, I realize I probably don’t do it as much as I could. And there is a distinct possibility that I will find myself doing some serious revamps (groan) of existing works in progress in the near future.
Of course, the dilemma of glorifying God in fiction without preaching lies at the heart of what it is to be a Catholic writer. As a fiction writer, a good story is the most important part of a book. But as a Catholic fiction writer, writing fiction takes on more responsibility than the work merely being devoid of objectionable content. But what does that really mean?
Does that mean we have to be writing stories centered around the Catholic faith? Does there have to be a priest in every book? A major conversion? Struggling Catholics? Can they just be struggling people? How does this work in dystopian and sci-fi? All of these are questions I, and other Catholic fiction writers, ask ourselves. In what way does our Catholic faith shine through?
The solution to finding these answers, I think, must be prayer — praying that we are glorifying God with our talents as He would desire us to. The Benedictine mantra is Ora et Labora, Pray and Work. It’s a maxim that holds no matter what we’re doing, and it’s past time I apply it to my writing.
On a side note, tempting as it is to join a group that could give me and my writing more exposure, I am deciding against joining the ACFW. But thanks, Laura Hilton!
M. R. Zapp is a mother of five, an avid fan of Regency history, artist, and writer. She has recently taken on a labor of love as editor for Altar and Hearth Magazine, is contemplating the indie publication of her first novel, and blogs at Apostolate of the Pen. She nurses babies, wipes noses, hates ironing and folding clothes, is working on several more novels, and loves to cook.