Guest Blogger: John Wheeler
Those people who know me very well know that I’ve had a lifelong habit of creating a fictional construct, getting frustrated by the inherent logical self-contradictions in it and the inevitable moral lacks in it, and throwing all or part of my work out because of it, only to be compelled to start all over again when my mind resolved whatever logical and moral conundrums faced its unconscious workings. To paraphrase Mark Twain about quitting tobacco smoking: “Quitting speculative fiction writing [for these reasons] is the easiest thing in the world. I ought to know because I’ve done it a thousand times.”
The reason I’m still writing, of course, is because I’ve always gotten up one more time than I quit. Beginning some years ago, in the 2000’s, I also stopped throwing things out, and so was able first to self-publish online, then to be published in print.
On March 5, 2014, I finally faced another increasing conundrum entirely, and did so formally and publicly. Why and how I did so is featured on my blog post, “Why I Will NEVER Write A Solo Novel.” This post by Angie Brashear, “‘How to Write Nicely With Others’ by Lisa Godfrees”, reminded me of an option I might have time to exercise at length: create an anthology of stories inviting the perspective of different authors, with myself holding the right of final decision as to what to do with my characters and situations. Also I plan—thus far—to continue my solo work on short fiction, such as has been published to date in the e-zine The Cross and the Cosmos under the pen name of Johanan Rakkav. That I’ve co-authored a novel with E.V. Medina, Realmwalkers, is an achievement of itself, not least because I now know the investment of time and energy it takes to write a novel worth writing and reading.
That is why I say now that a solo novel—as much as writing one has been a lifelong dream for me, and as much as I love my characters and situations—is out of the question. I knew all along it would become so if my work with The Music of the Bible Revealed on the one hand and the potential for romantic courtship on the other ever became self-sustaining at the same time. I can do my work as an apologist and my work as a musician synergistically, and I must do both because I believe God has called me to do so. This belief is “self-authenticating.” The more I do in them, the more obvious my calling to them is and the better fruit they bear. But I can’t add a like devotion to speculative fiction writing on top of these, especially at the expense of personal relationships.
Now many if not most of us are in creative writing for the same reasons I am, and they are rooted in out temperaments, social styles and cognition as led by our spiritual aims. Among our temperamental needs is the need to learn through imagination and play and to give something of personal meaning to the world. It would be foolish for me to ignore my personal needs entirely here. But it would be just as foolish for me to claim a “divine calling” as a speculative fiction writer when this has not been demonstrated to me and when assuming such would take time and energy away from what is most important for me to do.
“I read it in a book somewhere”: the lament of many of us with ENFP cognitive preferences (the whole art and science of personality type is a big part of my fiction)! I can’t find the book now, but somewhere in the several books on writing Christian fiction by Jeff Gerke (founder of Marcher Lord Press), he tells the story of a man who started out in Christian fiction and realized that is not where the Lord would have him minister. God called him elsewhere. There he succeeded, as he would not had he stayed where he was.
So, I believe, it is happening with me. I can’t switch off that part of my mind which uses imagination and symbolism to wrestle with the issues of life. I shouldn’t. But it must be made to serve proper goals and priorities, in the place where God has put me.
What about you? What are your priorities as a creative writer? Would you be willing to reorganize them, even severely, if it became obvious you could serve God and man better by doing so?
John Wheeler is a consultant for the Living Church of God in Charlotte, N.C., and is the editor and co-publisher of The Music of the Bible Revealed by the late Suzanne Hailc-Vantoura. A man of diverse interests, he maintains a number of Web pages and blogs, all of which may be accessed through http://www.rakkav.com. John performs on the piano, Celtic harp, and lyre (kinnor) and composes songs and instrumental works. He has had a lifelong interest in reading, watching, role-playing and writing speculative ﬁction. Realmwalkers is his ﬁrst published work of ﬁction as a co-author. Stories set in his own ﬁctional universe have been published on Triond.com and at his blog, The Portal of Light.