Thursday, February 26, 2015

Powerful Topics

Well ... at one point this was supposed to be sort of a blog about writing. So it seems fitting to take a moment and devote an article to that topic. Who knows, maybe soon we'll get on a steady schedule that balances life/spiritual posts with writing posts. No promises it will happen soon, though. Life is hectic.

Okay. That's out of the way. Now on to today's topic. Which, actually, is about writing topics.

Have you ever read a book that just didn't pan out the way you had expected, and not in a good way? Maybe a friend recommended a book to you, or you might have chosen it because of good reviews or awards it had received.

One book I'm currently reading is proving to be just that: I'd heard great things about it and to the best of my knowledge it was an award winner. The topic intrigued me. So when it went on sale for Kindle, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Problem is, the writing style itself is lacking. The plot is moving too fast. The emotional and spiritual character arcs are stilted.

So now I muse over the question of why this book sounded so popular. The only conclusion that I could come to was that it was because of the topic of the novel. The author highlighted at least two major cultural problems. In my opinion, it was these hot-button topics that made her book popular, not her actual writing. While this resulted in a disappointing, almost one-dimensional book, it does give me a useful clue into the writing world.

It's not all about how we write. What we write about can overcome many stylistic problems.

Now, hear me out. I'm not advocating that writers ignore style. Not at all! What I am suggesting is that good writers who know how to craft good plots should also harness the power of relevant, powerful topics. The subject matters that authors choose to delve into hold the potential to gather a huge readership of people for whom the topic resonates.

So there you go. My writing thought/idea for today: Choose a timely topic that will grab the hearts of readers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Light ... and Darkness

I started reading 1 John because of a Facebook debate.

I normally try to avoid those.

Anyway, I started reading and re-reading the book of 1 John mostly because I was confused by something someone said about it, and I wanted to see for myself what was actually in there.

What stuck out to me didn't really pertain to the debate, but it has stuck with me and is slowly transforming my thinking.

Light and darkness.

There are only two options.

The first chapter of 1 John makes it pretty clear: God is light. And His children walk in light. Now, obviously this is symbolic language--it's not saying Christians can never turn off a light switch without sinning. Here's the best summary I can give of it at the moment:

God is righteous. Holy. Pure. Lovely. Unblemished. Good.

His children are to be daily becoming more like Him.

This has been coming back to me in my actions the last few days. When I'm with my friends, do my actions reflect light or darkness? When I interact with the others on my campus (most of whom are in that awkward stage between friends and complete strangers ... small campus problems ...) am I being loving? Pure in my words and thoughts?

1 John ended up challenging my spiritual walk more than I ever expected. And I'm super thankful it did.

"This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." ~ I John 1:5-7