No half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly.
In the course of my taking questions for the birthday party here on The Penslayer, I was asked by the blogger of Fullness of Joy the rather enormous question of how I (or anyone, for that matter) go about presenting the Gospel in an historical fictional setting. My answer is somewhat lengthy (it's a big question!) but hopefully worth the reading, so check it out here!
Emily sent in the following, poignant question. Read it and think about it! I have done my best to give an adequate answer to a difficult obstacle.
Often I get this fear that the words will not come out as well as I feel in my head and my heart. How do you recommend overcoming that fear?I think many of us struggle with this emotion: the fear of failing. The idyllic but formless sense of a story which we get inside our heads is an ethereal thing, such stuff as dreams are made of, and dreams do not suffer to be caught in cold stone and dried ink. The stuff of dreams, and ink and stone, are separate mediums, completely different, and you cannot make a dream out of stone, nor ink out of a dream. Something will always be lost in translation. The dream in our head will never be the image on the page.
I don’t want to discredit this fear or, in a sense, displace it. It is a healthy fear in so far that it does not keep us from our work. The fear that you might not do your dream justice, that your characters will be flat and not full of dimension as they are in your head, the fear that you might let the readers down, lends a serious edge to our work and drives us to do better, to try harder. It inspires us to greatness for, looking on failure, we appreciate that we cannot let ourselves do badly. This fear has its place. This fear has its purpose. It is the sensible recognition that what we are doing is important and that we cannot afford to ruin it. All those who feel this fear, I commend you.
But how do you move on through the fear? How do you not let it cripple you? It is no great feat of magic: you simply push on. No one plays an instrument to match the music in the mind until many years of practice have been put in. The sorry scratchings and scribblings that you make at first do not prove that you are a bad writer, only that you are a young one. Persistence, diligence, and a teachable spirit will give you growing deftness with your craft. Keep the healthy fear—it makes you humble—and to it add an even greater measure of simple, quiet discipline: as times goes on and you grow more skilled with words, the translation from dream to word-picture will grow easier and clearer and you will begin to say more and more what you mean. And always remember: there is no praise for someone who felt fear and gave in to it, but great honour for the soul who, enduring great fear, went on in spite of it.