3 reasons why Catholic authors should relax and enjoy writing

3 reasons why Catholic authors should relax and enjoy writing

Feb 3, 2022 | Guest Post, Latest, Writing Help

As a teen, I was always encouraged to be a warrior for Christ. To use my artistic skills as a tool for conversion. The idea was to make something a mainstream audience would consume, while also preaching the truths of the Gospel.

I had this vision of myself standing before God with a smug smile and a line chart saying, “Check this out. 80% of the people who read my epic, fantasy, masterpiece converted to Catholicism.” Then God would pop the champagne and give me a big, fat bonus.

That’s only a slight exaggeration. I really believed that if I could just write the perfect story, souls would come to God in swarms.

After many years of life experience, I’ve identified numerous problems with this line of thinking. The largest of which is that I am incapable of writing the perfect story. The perfect story has already been written. You and I are both characters in it. The perfect story is the story of salvation. All great stories are merely a reflection of it.

That in mind, my personal approach to writing has changed. I no longer write to convert other people. I write to convert myself. Writing is my way of making sense of the world. Of contemplating how God is working in my life, through all its challenges and brokenness.

I am not saying you can’t write as a form of missionary work. When approached with humility, it can be a beautiful vocation. It is just not my vocation.

As a Catholic, there are dozens of reasons to write, all of which give glory to God. Writing, whether done professionally or personally, is incredibly enriching.

So I would love to share three reasons to write and invite you to reflect on them.

1. Write for Fun

Play is a beautiful gift from God. It encourages innovation and allows us to turn off our internal filters and experiment with different ideas. Play is a way of enjoying the world.

Aren’t you delighted when someone enjoys a gift you gave them? Do you think God is any less delighted when you enjoy the language and imagination that He gave you?

So you want to get together with some friends and make a story about a narwhal that sprouts wings, flies to space, and falls in love with an alien? Don’t scorn this as a waste of time. This is a way of praising God.

2. Write to Contemplate

How is God working in your life? How is He working in the world around you? How is He with you in your struggles and pain? How is He with you in your triumphs and joys?

When I am writing, I project these questions onto a fictional character. I imagine how God’s grace would touch that character. I imagine what would happen if the character worked with God, or against Him. Then I write the outcome I find the most interesting.

Writing to contemplate can take the form of a personal spiritual journal or a book of prayer. When I write to contemplate, it usually takes the form of an absurd fairy tale parody. This might seem strange, but it works for me. Exploring the absurd gives me perspective on reality.

3. Write to Share

I want your cookbook! (Well, assuming you’re a good cook.) Writing is a wonderful way to share our knowledge and talents with others.

In addition to practical skills, writing allows us to share our emotions and experiences with those around us. The writings I treasure most are those of my grandparents. These poems, stories, and journal entries give me a window into the heart of some of the most precious people in my life.

Think about the Bible. When I read scripture, I find myself hurting, rejoicing, weeping, and laughing with people who died thousands of years before I was born. What a beautiful gift!

Why Do You Write?

This is not an exhaustive list. There are many reasons to write. And whatever you’re writing, give glory to God!

Maybe you’re aspiring to be the next Tolkien, maybe you’re preserving grandma’s crochet patterns, or maybe you are having a blast with your fluffy, teen vampire romance. God will be with in in all your work if you invite Him.

So, Catholic author, take the pressure off and relax. You don’t need to write the perfect story. You can’t write the perfect story. The perfect story has already been written.

Guest: Katy Campbell: I am a Catholic humorist and lover of fairy tales. I prefer the gory originals to the squeaky clean Disney retellings but will gladly consume both. I graduated from John Paul the Great Catholic University in 2012 with a B.S. in Communications Media and recently left my real job to pursue a career as a starving author. I’ve published three books and numerous short stories which you can find on my website: katysfables.com

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Katy grew up in a family that was always joking around and laughing. “My grandma taught me that humor is a powerful tool for getting perspective, especially when working through difficulties. I brought this value to my writing and have yet to create a story I don’t consider at least a little bit fun. So far, I’ve published four comedy fantasies and have many more in the works! ”

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Q: Favorite fandom/movie series?

This is the worst question ever because there are so many awesome fandoms to choose from. Since I have to choose, I’ll say Star Trek from the original series through Voyager. (None of these new-fangled Star Treks you kids are watching.) My fairies draw a ton of inspiration from Q, the mischievous all-powerful space alien that appears in Next Generation.

Q: What are you writing these days?

Lots of things! I am doing a sequel to my first novel, Love, Treachery, and Other Terrors. A sequel to Rosaline’s Curse, and a new fun fantasy for middle schoolers about a fifteen-year-old girl’s search for her long-lost parents.

Q: Why is LegendFiction a Good Idea?

Because Orthodox and Catholic writers need a place to tell fun stories that reflect their worldview. I mentioned how much I love Star Trek earlier, but numerous episodes depict religious people as superstitious, science haters that need to be defeated. It’s a pretty standard sci-fi trope.

What’s the solution to this? Help religious writers create awesome sci-fi! Their stories might not be explicitly religious, but they also won’t perpetuate anti-christian stereotypes.

Q: What Services Do You Offer?

I offer story coaching for novels and short stories. As I am reading through your story, I will leave inline comments with my real-time reaction and predictions about where the story is going. This will help you understand if your emotional beats are working.
I try to be as specific as possible with feedback whether it’s constructive or praising. So instead of saying, “I like Chapter 6” I’ll say, “I like how you built tension in Chapter 6 by introducing the mysterious stranger. He was really creepy and the way he kept showing up everywhere the hero went got me really on edge.”

Instead of saying, “This section is boring.” I will say, “Cut this section down because it repeats information you gave us earlier in the story.”

Q: What’s your dream audience?

I like working with people who are open-minded, willing to consider my notes even if they don’t end up using them, and people who are willing to ask clarifying questions about my feedback. I also love working with people who have great senses of humor and don’t take themselves too seriously.

Q: What’s one thing that you wish people knew about editing?

Nobody’s work is perfect. All the great books you’ve read went through numerous rounds of editing. Don’t be embarrassed if I catch a mistake in your manuscript. I’ve probably made the same mistake a hundred times. Editing can hurt, but it’s an important part of making your story awesome!

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