Thursday, March 3, 2016

Our Stories Matter

by Lynn H Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

There’s a very cool section in the book of Numbers that I think has a unique application to writers.

If you haven’t perused this section of the Old Testament recently, you may not know that God gifted certain individuals with creative talents for the building of his Tabernacle and then called out entire families for specific areas of service.

Very specific. He didn’t just say, “Hey, I want the Levites in charge of the Tabernacle.” He said, “I want this family responsible for the curtains, and this family responsible for the framework, and this family responsible for carrying the holy things. (Numbers 4 – check it out).

Here’s the thing…I wonder if some of the Levites in charge of the curtains felt slighted. They were Levites just like those guys in charge of the Ark of the Covenant. But could they carry it? Nope.

And I wonder if the Levites in charge of the Ark of the Covenant looked down their noses at the guys who carried the framework. I mean, really, how hard is it to carry poles?

This may sound ridiculous, but I’ve noticed that we writers? We’re bad about doing this to each other and to ourselves.

God has given us a special gift. A calling. We’re all writers, but we aren’t going to write the same thing.

We may write poetry, historicals, romances, picture books, thrillers, devotionals, short stories, novellas, blog posts, memoirs, nonfiction, fantasy, sci-fi, literary, popular, comic books…the list goes on.

Whatever story you’ve been given to tell, in whatever format you’ve been gifted to tell it in, that’s what you are supposed to do.  

No genre or style is more important than any other, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking one type of writing, publication method, or story is better than another. I know. I’ve been guilty of it myself.

But the longer I hang around writers, and the more I learn about my own genre and the preferred genres of my friends, the more I realize that bringing your story to life, no matter how you choose to do so, is hard and important work. We should be each other’s biggest cheerleaders, not each other’s biggest critics.

If you have a more literary bent, that’s fabulous. Just don’t disdain the writer who’s churning out fast-paced thrillers.

If you write epic family sagas, that’s great. Just don’t scorn the novella writers.

If you write nonfiction, that’s awesome. As long as you don’t consider all fiction writers to be hacks.

If you write poetry, bless you. But please don’t demean the romance novelists who have paperbacks in Walmart.

And on the flipside, if you write romances, novellas, or popular thrillers, there’s no need to throw stones at the poets, scholars, and historians.

Of course, sometimes the negativity isn’t coming from others…it’s coming from within. I write romantic suspense. It’s the kind of story I’ve been given to tell.

But every now and then, I read some great literary work and my heart hurts. The beautiful prose. The elegant descriptions. Maybe I’m not a “real” writer because I don’t write like that? Or I read a poem that makes me cry and I wonder if anything I’ve written could ever measure up to such artistry.

That’s when I remember the Levites, and the God who created them and then gave them specific work to do.

Sure, he could have left them to their own devices and the tabernacle would have been moved and set up, but it wouldn’t have been done as well. Those guys who carried the frame? I bet they figured out the best way to carry it and the fastest way to set it up. Those guys with the curtains probably knew exactly how many folds it would take to make a perfect square.

The work was done and it was done well because each one knew what they were supposed to do and they did it.

Our stories matter. The poems matter. The romances matter. The nonfiction matters. The comic books matter. Because there are people who will pick up a comic book who won’t touch a romance. There are people who will never read fiction, but they’ll read a memoir. And there are people who are afraid of poetry but will read a devotion based on the Psalms.

God uses stories to reach people. He uses history, poetry, and narratives, short and long. He uses romance, action, mystery and the supernatural.

As His creation, we do the same thing. We handle holy things every time we put words on the page. Let us not ever be guilty of diminishing the importance of our own work, or the work of our fellow writers who’ve also been assigned this role in the Kingdom.

So how about you? Ever feel like you aren’t a real writer because of your chosen genre? Or every thought a particular type of writing was “easy” until you tried it for yourself? Let’s talk about it in the comments.


Don’t forget to join the conversation!

TWEETABLES


Lynn Huggins Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. 

She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. 

She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at http://www.lynnhugginsblackburn.com.

19 comments:

  1. Who'd thought Numbers 4 would apply to writers? It relates to the New Testament scripture about the hand, foot and eye being integral parts of the same body. . We need each other.

    Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Yes! I thought of that, too, but this post was already too long. :) Thank you for pointing it out! We definitely need each other, and no part is more or less important! We all matter! Grace & peace!

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  2. Thanks, Lynn, for this great reminder that our stories matter. A similar message is included in an article I wrote that is scheduled for publication in the May 2016 issue of The Writer. I hope you and your readers will check it out when it hits the newsstand/mail box.
    Dennis L. Peterson
    Independent writer/historian

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    1. Isn't it fun to see how God uses us to get His message out in so many different ways! Grace & peace!

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  3. Love this, Lynn! Thanks for the great reminder that God has us writing where He chose to put us!

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  4. Wow, what a wonderful reminder! I do this, too--look at what others are writing and wish I were more like them. Thank you for this post :)

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    1. Whew! I'm glad I'm not alone! Grace and peace to you as you write just the way you were designed to write!

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  5. all stories have their place. short, long, sweet, not-so-sweet, simple, complex... Father has placed each gift in the vessel (us) to convey the message of who He is

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    1. Yes! I love seeing His creativity in each and every unique story!

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  6. Great reminder. After all, we're one goal is to build the Kingdom of God.

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    1. Yes! All of us are writing for Him!! Grace & peace!

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  7. I love it that God is "very specific" in the calling (the gifts and work) He gives to each. Thanks for this comforting and encouraging reminder!

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    1. Yes! I'm so humbled to have a small part in His big plans! Grace & peace!

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  8. "We handle holy things every time we put words on a page." I love this thought, Lynn. I don't really enjoy writing but it's the call God has given me for this season of my life. And the words I write for Him are holy! How encouraging!

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    1. Thank you, Sherry! Blessings on you as you obey His call!

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  9. What a beautiful, well written article. It's poignant and really stirred my heart. Thank you for sharing.

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