Last week, I spent an amazing 4 days at the annual writers’ conference sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). What a blessing to see so many writers dedicated to sharing God’s hope, love, and healing through stories. Each day began with praise and worship after breakfast, another worship session was held after the day’s activities ended on Friday night, and a prayer room was open all day, every day during the conference.
Tracie Peterson, author of several historical romances, including the Song of Alaska Series, was our keynote speaker. She challenged us to define why we write. Is it only to be published? For recognition? For money? She asked, If you knew you would never, ever have anything published, would you still write?
It reminded me of my son’s struggle with playing basketball for a losing team. (See the “Winners & Losers” post.) In effect, Tracie asked us the same question that Michael Jordan asked when he wrote, Do you love winning? Or do you love the game?
Do I love being published? Or do I simply love writing? Because if I simply love writing, I’ll do it no matter what agents or editors think. I’ll do it whether I get a sizable advance or I get paid nothing. Writing simply for the love of writing frees us from so many pressures that we want to put on ourselves. It frees us to write what God puts on our hearts, not what we think will sell. It frees us to be obedient to the one who calls us to write, the giver of the gift.
Why do I write? Because I think better when I write. I speak better on paper than out loud. I write because I get a huge kick out of seeing characters come to life on the page, like having an invisible friend that no one else can see. And I love those moments when something I added to the text earlier suddenly comes out later with a meaning that I never planned and never saw coming. I write because it seems God has put it in my heart to write certain stories. Even if they never get published. Even if I never earn a penny for them.
I write because, like Michael, I love the game.