As anyone that even remotely follows this blog knows, my summer was mainly spent with me teaching a Bible Survey Class at my church (the fruits of which can be found here). I spent roughly 15 to 20 hours a week working on it. As I mentioned last week, I read and read and read to prepare each week for this class. I’d spend the week reading scholarly articles, books, journals, commentaries, etc, and then spend Friday and Saturday writing anywhere from 15 to 35 pages of material for the class. Nearly every week.
I’m exhausted. The analytical side of my brain needs rest. And so, I’m going to take September to spend some time with some stories and fiction. I’m doing this in three main ways:
1. I will be writing stories & poetry
First, I’m participating in StoryADay September: a annual writing event, similar to National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo; which I’m also thinking of doing), in which someone writes and finishes a story every day through the month of September.
So, every weekday, I’ll post here on this blog an original fiction story. (You can follow my StoryADay profile, if you want.) I’ll also continue writing non-fiction blog posts as I’m inspired and able, but the priority and focus will definitely be the stories. Bookmark the page and return daily for your fiction fix each day in September.
I’m super excited about this. This is a part of me that not many people have been able to see, but one I’ve always loved and feel I have some ability in. Sure, I’ve posted my poetry here now and then, but I’ve continued to write both poetry and the occasional fiction pieces as long as I’ve had this blog, but I’ve not really posted it much.
Upon graduating college, I was only a few credits shy of a second major of English (my first was Psychology) and a second minor of Writing (my first was Religious Studies). I even considered going for year-long Master’s in English Literature program after graduating. But, I had already been accepted into graduate school in Philly, so finishing the extra credits and pursuing a completely unrelated Masters seemed a little superfluous.
So, in short, I’m really excited to share this part of my creativity with all of you.
2. I will be reading stories & poetry
One of the main needs that my soul and mind have for this month is to not read any pieces of non-fiction. I need to take a break from the scholarship, theology, history, politics that I’ve been drowning in all summer.
I recently got coffee with a good friend who’s a writer I deeply respect. I was telling him about my desire to do the StoryADay thing, and he asked me if I had read two specific books. I told him I had not. After getting up from the floor, he responded to this by pulling out one of the biggest soap boxes I’ve ever seen, standing upon it, and telling me that he had a firm conviction that there needed to be a law or some other mechanism that prevented any American writer from writing a single word for public consumption, if that writer had not read these two books. I believed he referred to them as “fountainheads” of American literature.
And so, I’ll be reading them this month. One is Herman Mellville’s Moby Dick, and the other is Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. I’m greatly looking forward to these reads. As I pointed out earlier, I’ve already begun Moby Dick, and wow, this is some amazing writing–already!
3. I will be meditating upon stories & poetry
In my own personal Bible study, I’m going to spend my time in the stories of Judges and Acts (as well as the poetry of Psalms, but I’m always there anyway). Rather than sitting in the theology of the letters of Paul, the theologically difficult books like Joshua or Ecclesiastes or Revelation, or the other books of the Bible that would just get me sinking all the more deeply into my own brian, I’m just going to immerse myself into these two story-based books.
Further, I’m just going to read them (as opposed to taking copious notes and underlining and consulting commentaries), and I’m going to read bigger sections of them at once (rather than just sitting on a few verses for a whole day).
So, for all you usual readers out there… you need this too.
The people that come to this site are usually looking for something thought-provoking, a discussion to be had, or a new angle to something they hadn’t thought of before. Most often, they are Christians, but even of those that aren’t, most of the readers of this site probably fall more in the “thinker” camp. Yes, we have a few feelers out there (and I so appreciate your presence on this site), but even they are those precious “thinking-type feelers” who analyze that which they feel deeply about.
As I’ve said before, I have a conviction that Western Christians have completely abandoned the arts (a great articulation of this can be found here). The Christians doing good art are often not known about, supported, or encouraged by the church; and those Christians that are are usually making crappy art. This is a tragedy, and I would even go so far as to say that this is a sin of the Church for which they need to repent.
And so, if you read this post, let me challenge you to return and read some of the stories and poems I’ll be posting up. The world needs us to, the Church needs us to, our souls need us to. Commit to spending your month engaging at least a little more fiction, poetry, or other man-made beauty than you normally would. If you already read this site, then congrats, I’ve tried to give you an easy way to do this. Just come as you normally would and read. The Holy Spirit will thank you for doing it. I promise.
I will not be doing “Christian art” or “prophetic art” or “evangelistic art” as I write and post here. I will simply be trying to create Beauty in words and character and story in a way that is original, interesting, and stirring. My stories tend to be rooted in reality as much as possible, and so they will probably include “real” things like sadness, violence, sexuality, cursing, or other things that challenge many Christians’ sensibilities. Know this ahead of time.
But like I said: our souls need this. And so may I ask you, as my brothers and sisters, to walk with me in this?
I’m anticipating that all of these things will really feed a part of my soul that has not been stirred for a while. I’m excited to see what comes out, and I’m even more excited to share it with all of you. So come back on Monday, September 3rd for the first story.
[art credit: the photos are mine, the painting is Istvan Sandorfi's "La douleur du gaucher"]