Monday, March 02, 2009

All That Glitters...

Glittering gold surrounded the nineteen year old Tutankhamen when he was buried. More than three-thousand years separated the burial of the boy who became king at age nine and the discovery of his burial chamber. His reign was short—only ten years—but Tutankhamen’s legacy lives on today through stunning and brilliant relics. Timeless proof of a thriving civilization that yearned to leave its mark here, and beyond.

At the Tutankhamen exhibit I visited this past December, one piece in particular caught my eye. A hollowed-out ankh used to pour oils or water over Pharaoh during ceremonies. Brilliant turquoise and glaze gleamed under the spotlight. I was struck by the fact that more than three-thousand years ago, some master craftsman labored over that piece, hands smoothing the curves and hollowing out the core, then baking it to perfection, knowing that he crafted it for his “god-king.”

Now, as I sit here, still impacted by that piece from the exhibit, I wonder about my impact, my writing. Not only questioning whether or not it will last (I have no grand delusions about it lasting three-thousand years) but whether I am pouring my heart into the pieces, using my skills to best of my ability to honor my King.

Just as the Egyptian potter was commissioned to design pottery and objects to honor King Tut, so I am commissioned by my King to craft stories that will honor Him. So, I chose to labor over those words, smoothing the transitions, perfecting the plot, and editing to perfection (or as near as I’m able).

How easy it is to shrug and say, “Eh, this will do. It’s good enough.” But what would’ve happened to that Egyptian craftsman if he’d done that? He would have been put to death! Thankfully, we serve a God of mercy and grace, so I’m not worried about being struck down—but I still bear the responsibility of honoring Him. All the more, it makes me yearn to excel, to craft something that will reach through distance and time to touch hearts and reveal another piece of His glory and beauty.

Another piece that fascinated me was a scarab pectoral—a yellowish beetle with this ethereal glow had its golden wings spreading out from either side with blues and reds inlaid into the ornamentation. Scientists were curious about the scarab, fascinated by it’s odd “glow”—and finally discovered it wasn’t a jewel—but super-heated glass, glass only found in one place on earth, the Sahara. My mind trudged through those dunes, grains and wind searing my eyes and face, as I followed the one who dared to make the treacherous journey to honor his god-king. By doing so, he came up with a piece that greatly feted his pharaoh, even three-thousand years later.

How far will I go to honor my King? If the Egyptian craftsman had settled for something closer at hand, would it have pleased his pharaoh as much? Would it have been displayed in a museum as one of the most spectacular finds? Would it have been a favored piece that lay buried with its king, waiting for discovery millennia later?

If I hastily put together a story, knowing that I am a strong enough writer to making anything work, will that honor God as much as if I take my time, douse it patience, diligence, and prayer?

In our fast-paced society, we tend to ignore relics, to not slow down and consider how the past collides with the present, or the future. As writers, it’s even easier to rush our stories (isn’t that editor waiting to see it? What about that deadline?), but in the end, we are master craftsmen whose work will reflect not only our skill, but our dedication to our King, to give testament to the glory of His Kingdom.

I am willing to go the miles, to labor over words and put my own comfort and life on the line to seek the rare jewel. Pen a piece that will make others stop and say, I’ve read a story like that before, but this—wow!

Impacting our world takes a servant’s attitude, a patient heart, and careful craftsmanship so that all that glitters is God!

Ronie Kendig has a BS in Psychology and is a wife, mother of four, and avid writer. Her first espionage thriller, Dead Reckoning, will be released through Abingdon Press (Spring 2010). An active member of ACFW, Ronie serves as the Book of the Year coordinator and volunteers in various ways with ACFW. She also teaches creative writing at her local homeschool co-op. Visit Ronie at her website or her blog


Lisa Buffaloe said...
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Lisa Harris said...

Thanks for the great reminder. Very important and timely!


Lisa Buffaloe said...

Great article, Ronie. Thank you, I needed to read this today.

I'm rolling up my sleeves and getting back to work for my Heavenly King.

Ronie Kendig said...

Hey, Lisa and ... Lisa. :-D Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read. This article was as much for me as it is for anyone else. I think we can all "go deeper." :-D

Lori Benton said...

I needed to read this post this morning, as I embark today on my fifth edit (and nearing the five year mark) of my WIP. I've been feeling impatient with myself to hurry up and get the book finished, to settle for "good enough." Going deeper is exactly what it needs.

Mary Gallagher Williams said...

What an inspirational piece. You've said the words that encourage writers to do their best for God's glory.

Al Speegle said...

Your story was golden.
Thank you,
Al Speegle

Shannon said...

Wow, are you convicting this morning, or what? ;-) :-D Great reminder ... that God sees the sacrifice of our hearts even if we think what we craft will soon be ... buried. He knows, doesn't He?

Ronie Kendig said...

Discouragement is easy to find. As a matter of fact, it's probably hunting us down right now. I admit that seeing that what I wrote has encouraged you all...has deeply encouraged and blessed me. That's why we write, right?

I pray each of you finds the strength to keep going. We are working for the King!

Janet said...

I am of two minds. First, I applaud you. I see so many Christian books out there that reek of amateurism: clunky prose, facile stereotypes, dripping with cliches. It seems if the piety quotient is high enough, craft doesn't matter. And the authors would probably tell me about the emails they get from people whose lives were impacted. Fair enough. But what about the emails they're not getting, from unbelievers who will now refuse to pick up a Christian novel, whose stereotypes of Christians as stupid and uncultured have been reinforced? What about the people they are driving away?

So any Christian writer making a call for excellence has my full and unqualified support.

On the other hand (Sorry, I always have to look at everything from two sides. There's a reason God gave us two eyes. It's the only way you get depth perception.) on the other hand, the perfect is the enemy of the good. Those of us who are perfectionists by nature will never get anything done if we don't accept "good enough" at some point. Striving for excellence is an excellent thing; striving for perfection can be paralyzing, at least for some of us.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Ronie, excellent insight in this your first column on this blog. I'm glad I know you.

Ronie Kendig said...

Janet - You are right! It's very easy as a perfectionist to hammer the life out of a story trying to make it *perfect.* That's not at all what I'm talking about when I say go deeper--the point, as I alluded to in the article, is to avoid the "hastily put together" story. To make sure we are doing our best the way the Egyptian craftsmen did with their pieces. If we are, then we can be proud!! If we are, then that shows in our writing and pushes us to get better, to become stronger writers.

Thank you, Lena, for that sweet comment.

Gina Holmes said...
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Ane Mulligan said...

That was me who deleted that last one. Typo from dyslexic fingers. :D

Ronie, I'm so pleased to have you join us on Novel Journey. You're a great addition to the staff.

Terrific article and a an encouragement to many. Including me. :)

Sheila Deeth said...

What a great article to read at the start of my week. Thank you!

Ron Estrada said...

Good stuff. My "haste" to get published is what led me to get frustrated and give up for almost two years. Now I've slowed down, enjoying the journey.

Dineen A. Miller said...

Oh, just loved this! So visual and rich in meaning, girl. Love that last line especially, "so that all that glitters is God." I will hold that thought in my head and heart. Love you!