Guest Blogger: Glen Robinson
In the book, More Than Words: Contemporary Writers on the Works That Shaped Them, Stephen Lawhead writes about how the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien influenced him as a writer. Lawhead concluded from his study of Tolkien as a writer that regardless of what you write, who you are comes through in your writing.
Following that premise, on the first day of my Narrative Writing class I tell students that one of the final exam questions will be: “How does you writing reflect who you are as a person?” It’s kind of a trick question, because most college students are still in the process of figuring out who they really are. But my purpose is not to get an answer from them, but just to get them thinking about it.
And so I ask you the same question. Whether you write Christian suspense, science fiction, fantasy or any other genre, what does your writing say about you?
That idea, coupled with what I read about how writers need to build a platform, led me to write my Great Adventure Manifesto. I call it that because I see one of my main themes is presenting the Christian life as a great adventure, a dangerous quest rather that an effort to protect the status quo. But what about those secular books I write as well? In addition to Christian suspense, I’ve written children’s books, steampunk, science fiction, and dystopian fiction. What do they all have in common?
As I was sitting in church today, my mind wandering around as it usually does, I realized the theme that Christian writers can offer—should offer—that many non-Christians can’t. Even if you don’t mention anything about Christianity, God, Jesus or salvation, you can offer something that everyone is in search of.
Regardless of background, whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu or atheist, we all, deep down, crave hope.
They say that science fiction sees the world as it is, and fantasy sees the world as it should be. The problem with seeing the world as it is, especially if you don’t believe in God, is that it’s often hard to see hope. Maybe that’s why dystopian fiction is so big these days. Too many people today want to see hope, but don’t know where it would come from. We can give them that answer.
I’m not saying that our stories need to be sermons. In fact, I am dead-set against preaching. It seems like the world has plenty of that already. But as Christian writers we have two advantages.
One, we have hope to share with our readers. And two, we know how to share it.
Glen Robinson a university professor and a published author of both fiction and nonfiction. His books include: 52 Things to Do on Sabbath, the Christian suspense If Tomorrow Comes, and the steampunk novel Tom Horn vs. the Warlords of Krupp. He also wrote the story of his son’s traumatic brain injury and subsequent recovery in Not My Son, Lord. His recent release, Write Thinking, deals with the psychology of writing. Beyond writing, Glen’s interests are Jesus, his wife and family, kayaking, the Oakland Raiders, computer games, reading, and fixing things around the house. Links to more of his books are on his website.