Interview on Writing

Jon Brisbin was kind enough to ask me to discuss writing and a few related topics over at his blog. I hope you'll check it out. If you want to talk about some aspect of our conversation further, drop me a comment here and I'll do my best to keep my end up. And if you appreciate Jon's interview skills as much as I do, be sure to let him know. He asked some outstanding questions!

Posted byAthol Dickson at 4:00 PM  


Kay said... November 18, 2007 at 1:14 PM  

First I want to say that I'm not taking offense here or anything. Want to make sure you understand the tone.
But I'm one of those who says God has given me this story to write. And the truth is, I wouldn't be writing if He hadn't. I don't even particularly want to be a writer. But this story would not-- will not-- let me be. So it has to be written.
But even though it sounds a bit mystical and whacky, it isn't really. I just don't know how else to describe it. I really wish He would dictate it to me word for word, but He won't. I've asked :)
I feel like there are certain aspects of my story that I don't have the power to change. That's the part that sounds weird, but it's how I feel. I've asked God if I could please change it because the truth is I don't like it, but He hasn't given me permission to yet.
I think every story that points to Him is given by Him. Even if the actual process of getting it differs from writer to writer.
So, I'm in no way saying that my story is Inspired and Infallible Word of God. Heavens, that's nigh blasphemy. Just that God has put it on my heart and in my mind.
But I have been heard to utter the exact words you used in your interview.

gb said... November 19, 2007 at 11:47 AM  


Thank you. What a generous discussion. I left Jon some of my subjective take on this matter as a comment on his site.

As one who meagerly attempts to engage the construction of poetry, I was so struck with the similarity of issues confronted by writers within your genre and the struggles of creating (hopefully) worthy poetry.
To use a cinematic comparison, there are those whom God has gifted to write feature films (novels, etc.) and those who can only "hope" to capture such stories within the brevity of a commercial (poetry). Still, I suspect the tensions of art and craft, inspiration and perspiration are no less profound.


Athol Dickson said... November 19, 2007 at 12:33 PM  


Thank you for the generous tone of your comment. I appreciate it very much and of course I will respond in kind. Hopefully I didn’t leave anyone with the impression I don’t believe God inspires stories. God definitely inspires my stories, and I believe you when you say He has inspired yours. But Jon spoke of “channeling” a story, and unless I misunderstand the term, that means to be possessed by the spirit of another, to be under its direct control. That’s moving far beyond “inspiration,” and deeply into prophetic territory.

I do believe prophetic gifts are still received today, therefore I do believe it’s just barely possible that someone might receive an entire novel word-for-word, much as we are taught Moses received the Ten Commandments. But what an extremely rare thing that would be! Such a claim exceeds even that of Moses, who never received a single book beyond novella length, at most. No author in the entire Bible received a single revelation from the Lord more than 43,000 words in length, which is about half a novel. From this alone it seems wise to consider any claim of an entire novel received word-for-word from God with a great degree of, let us say, discernment.

God constantly inspires human thought and communication of every kind, from art to science to everyday life. As an author and a Christian, the Lord is my ever-present muse. In the interview with Jon I was only trying to say God does not often play the role of puppet master, as far as I can tell. God seems to prefer holding our imitation of His creativity very loosely in His hands, much as He created all the animals, then let Adam name them anything he liked.


You are far too humble to equate novels with feature films and your medium, poetry, to mere commercials! I think it was Poe who ended a long letter once by saying, "I apologize for my wordiness. Had I more time, I would have been brief." Almost anyone can communicate an idea given unlimited time and words. It takes real inspiration to get the same idea across with elegant economy.


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