While publisher for one of the world’s largest Christian Fiction divisions, my policy was to not acquire books from authors writing under pen names. We heard countless reasons why doing so could be beneficial or even strategic. Yet we walked away from every one of those proposals.
For me, it came down to this question. How can a writer approach a story with total authenticity and transparency while simultaneously hiding his or her identity? If nothing else, the reader deserves to know whose mind they are spending 300 pages with. The same goes for ghostwriting. If a celebrity or known brand-name author requires significant help to get the book written, that person should be listed as the book’s co-author. To admit you required outside help by adding another writer’s name to the front cover can be humbling, but it is also being truthful about how the book was born.
Thankfully, most authors write under their name.
God makes it clear throughout Scripture that names have immense power. The right name makes all the difference in the world. That’s why, for instance, Christians pray under the name of Jesus.
Closing our prayers with the phrase “In Jesus name” is far more than a quaint sentiment. Doing so invokes the covering, power and authority that only the name of Jesus can bring.
That is why we pray under his name.
And it is why we should also write under his name.
Doing so is an intentional act that invites and involves him in every part of the creative process. It is writing with him – which is radically different from merely writing about or for him. More than simply asking him to bless our writing, it is asking him to fully engage with us in the creative process as we commit to fully engaging with him.
The transformation begins when we pursue our gifting not primarily as a means to an end but as a means to know him better. It is taking your gifting back to the Giver because you long to experience it with him.
It’s mind-blowing. You get to experience the act of creating with God. The most creative being in the universe gives you the gift of words and then invites you to ask him questions, dream of new worlds and ideas, and laugh or weep with him over a scene the two of you wrote together.
The God of Story wants to father you in the art of story. He knows more about words, imagination and writing than every great author put together. In fact, he’s the one who first imagined those authors and then knit them together (created them) in their mother’s womb. He did the same with you. That’s why you are drawn to writing...and why he drew you to this blog post. To remind you that he stands ready to join you on the playground of ideas.
When you go to write, may you crave his presence more than technique, acclaim, productivity, or a book contract. May writing time without God’s presence be so unfulfilling that you simply stop and wait for him. The goal isn’t just to write because you are a writer or to hit some predetermined word count. People do that all the time without God. As Bill Johnson says – if you can write your story without God, then it is too small.
You have a far larger and more intimate calling – to experience his presence and pleasure as you write stories together. May you do so under the power, blessing and creativity of his name.
Allen Arnold loves the epic adventure God has set before him. From the mountains of Colorado, he leads Content & Resources for Ransomed Heart Ministries (led by John Eldredge). Before that, he spent 20 years in Christian Publishing - overseeing the development of more than 500 novels as founder and Publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction. He was awarded the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. But that doesn't really describe the man. Allen savors time with his family, craves the beach, drinks salsa by the glass, is hooked on the TV series "Once Upon a Time" and is passionate about helping storytellers tell better stories from an awakened heart.