by Cynthia Ruchti
Tucked in among the folds of wisdom and encouragement in Paul's letter to the church at Philippi is a three-sentence zinger. It's the kind of insight that zings straight to the core of who we are as novelists.
Speaking of his protege Timothy, Paul said, "I have no one like him. He is a person who genuinely cares about your well-being. All the others put their own business ahead of Jesus Christ's business," Philippians 2:20-21 CEB.
A defining moment for me as a writer came the day I sensed that I would never reach the people God wanted me to reach with my books until I loved the people God loved. The broken, the weary, the misguided. The people bent on posting negative reviews. The readers who complain that the book ended too soon and those who wish it had ended sooner. Those who misunderstand why I do what I do. Those who appreciate what I do. People who disagree with the premise or find typos missed despite the many layers of editing. Those who recommend the book to friends as well as those who waiting to "purchase" a copy until it's free.
Love served as my primary calling. Above storytelling. Above proposal-writing. Above marketing. Above contests and honors and research and networking.
Timothy genuinely cared about the well-being of the people he and Paul sought to reach. Paul remarked about it publicly because it was a quality lacking in too many other message-carriers. Timothy's approach refreshed his coworker and endeared him to his teacher.
But those on whom the greatest impact fell were the audiences for their messages. In the case of a novelist, the readers.
It can be argued that a novelist who writes without a conscious appreciation and interest in the reader on the other side of the story writes a pale novel compared to the writer who envisions and empathizes with the person who makes the story cycle complete--the reader.
Tongue in cheek, the question is asked if a novel lands in the woods, is it still a novel, since no one will read it. Even though many of us legitimately say that if we told the story just for the impact it had on our own lives, the effort would have been worth it, the full-formed novel has a destination--the hands of a reader. Or many readers.
Those of us who write stories that offer hope, inspire, inform, and entertain from a Christian worldview feel the importance of that connection at a deeper level than other artists. Souls are at stake. Joy is at stake. We write in partnership with the One who offers Hope.
Taking a cue from Timothy's attitude as a message-bearer, our most important novel-writing task may have nothing to do with writing, but rather with loving. Caring. Putting Jesus Christ's business above our own.
YOUR TURN: How do you make it obvious that you "genuinely care about the well-being" of your readers? Or have you seen it clearly in the life of another author you know? What reveals that it's genuine?
Cynthia Ruchti is an award-winning author of ten books, and a frequent speaker for women's events. She serves as the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers. Her most recent release is All My Belongings, a story that has expanded her insights about and appreciation for the unique challenges of caregiving. cynthiaruchti.com or www.facebook.com/CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage
Sunday, September 14, 2014
by Cynthia Ruchti