Writers Need Community Too

Today, as promised, features the third in a series of blogs on Christian Community. These posts were written for (and posted on) the “Upper Room Books” blog page.

Derek Maul, Upper Room author, shares  thoughts on the importance of Christian community in the final of three blog posts. Derek’s latest book is 10 Life-Charged Words: Real Faith for Men.

It’s in the context of community that we find the most compelling stories, the most adept evolutions of theology, the most cogent commentary, and the most miraculous revelations of God’s incarnation in real time…

One of the common misunderstandings about writing is the notion that authors need isolation, retreats away from the action, and that we should be sequestered in order to do mysterious things like, “Find my muse.”

Creativity, according to myth, requires silence, laser-like concentration, and an environment free from busyness, noise, people, or other outside distractions. I’ve even heard writers buy in: “What I need is a few weeks of solitude to create my masterpiece.” And, “If I could just get some consistent uninterrupted time alone, then this pesky writer’s block would go away.”

Really? Write in a virtual vacuum? I don’t think so!

Irrepressible Life
Now I’ll grant that a few quiet hours might help me stay a step or two ahead of the grammar police in the copy editing department (no offense), but that’s only after I’ve gone toe-to-toe with enough real life to first write something that might need a little fine-tuning.

Inventiveness has to be built on constant interaction with real life and, most importantly, interaction with honest-to-goodness people who live in honest-to-goodness community. In fact, it’s in the context of community that we find the most compelling stories, the most adept evolutions of theology, the most cogent commentary, and the most miraculous revelations of God’s incarnation in real time.

Beyond Observers
Writers like to say we are professional observers. That may well be. But it’s not enough for us to observe community; we are also called to be conscious participants and purposeful creators. We need community to sustain us, to challenge us, to encourage us, to hold us accountable, to introduce us to the real stories of real people. That’s how we learn what it means to live the gripping saga of authentic life.

Living in community means making the conscious decision—moment by moment—to follow Jesus into the crowd, and to serve the people God loves.

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.—Acts 2:45-47

2 comments

  1. And one of the first things Jesus did when he began his “official” work was to gather a community about himself … Clarence Jordan reflected that Jesus chose people who would not have ordinarily associated with each other (like Matthew the publican and Simon the Zealot) and put them in the same fellowship. Then he shook them up with the love of God and when people said “Where is this kingdom of heaven you’re talking about?” Jesus would direct their attention to the crew around him and say, “It’s right there!”

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