Writing is tricky business.
Everyone writes things throughout their day, so everyone thinks they can be write (as the staggering number of abandoned blogs testify). And because everyone thinks they can do it, they have a hard time appreciating the work of a writer (even when they like that writer’s work better). For the writer, it’s incredibly difficult to balance the tension between wanting to write something that’s going to benefit people and something that’s going to actually be read (the two are not always the same). Then there’s the constant cycle of self-doubt, feeling like you’re faking it… but maybe that part’s just me. So when a writer finds some some degree of success, people start asking: what’s the secret?
Bestselling author Bret Lott (sort of) answers this question in his new book, Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian. In this book, Lott shares a series of essays blending practical take-aways for prospective writers along with a look at his own life as he comes to grips with the death of his father.
Readers might be surprised to learn that Lott is a Christian. Although I knew of him from my college-job days as a bookseller, I had no idea about his faith. So his opening essay, “Why have we given up the ghost?” was quite a surprise, opening with the Apostles’ Creed and moving into his experiences of God’s supernatural work in the world—all while defining “literary fiction” (which, he says, is distinguished from popular fiction by it’s willingness to “confront us with who we are and make us look deeply at the human condition”).
As he continues through his essays on the relationship between art, faith and the world, precision, influences, and Flannery O’Connor, he takes advantage of the opportunity reorient the Christian writer’s understanding of his or her craft around a Christian worldview. [Read more…]