I want to be a good storyteller. It’s a big paradigm shift for me. Most of my life I have been a nonfiction reader. As a pastor, I wanted to learn how to be a better pastor, so that’s what I read about. As a writer a writer, I wanted to learn to be a better writer, so that’s what I read about. Gradually over the last several years, I have discovered favorite fiction authors. That list would include Doug Worgul, Kent Haruf, Donald Miller, John Grisham, Sue Grafton, and Kathy Reichs. I started reading novels out of sheer boredom, and the pressing need to let my mind relax for a while.
When I wrote, An Irreligious Faith, I tried to include as many stories and antidotes as I could. One third of the book is my story of how I became an irreligious person of faith. The rest of the book contrasts Jesus and the church, and is basically insights for people in the institutional church, and people who have left it behind. Much to my surprise, nearly every blurb and review about the book mentions my experiences, the story part of the book.
Eventually, I will write a novel. There are about three books in the works right now. My primary focus is a follow-up book to An Irreligious Faith that will flesh out what an intitutionless life of faith looks like. I plan on doing a collection of shorter pieces. Lastly, I want to write a novel, something that I consider to be the ultimate sense of freedom, and a huge challenge.
Writing fiction is like legalized lying. Well, at least, it is the opportunity to make up a story. Yet, it can be the vessel that contains some of the most beautiful, and important truths you will ever find.
I understand that a story is one of the most powerful things in the world, but I am not sure that I know why. Maybe…
- Living it is better than saying it.
- A story fleshes out principles so we can see how they work.
- Facts are boring, but stories (people) are interesting.
- A story helps understand something on an emotional level, instead of just on an intellectual level.
- A story can validate what we are feeling.
- It can inspire us when we see how others have overcome obstacles.
- Characters in good stories encounter huge obstacles and are full of surprises, and that is like life.
What do you think is the power of a good story?