It is an understatement to say experiencing the new birth in Christ is a world-rocking thing. A heart of stone changed to a heart of flesh. Perspective completely flipped. A God we once hated—even if we didn’t realize it—we now love. Sin we once embraced, now disgusts us. No doubt, this brings many changes to all aspects of a new Christian’s life, but what affect does it have on the creative process?
I can only speak for myself as a yet-unpublished writer, though I imagine people in other arts experience similar transformation. I was saved about six years ago. At the time, I’d spent the six years prior to this learning to write novels with the intent of seeking publication. I had invested a lot into this, both creatively and financially.
At the time Christ captured my heart, I wasn’t yet published, but probably pretty close. For an unpublished writer, that elusive publication thing is a hard thing to judge. There’s a number of steps along the way: learning to write well, writing a manuscript that will sell, securing an agent, submission to publishers, securing a publishing contract, making it through the publication process, then finally seeing the birth of a book.
I was still very early on this list—thankfully in retrospect. I had written six different first drafts and found my voice and niche as a writer—political satire with a healthy dose of raunchy humor. I had polished one of those manuscripts and was receiving query requests for full manuscripts. I also had a rough draft of an idea I still think would have likely been a break out title. Then Christ grabbed hold of me.
All of a sudden, the elements I thought would define me as a writer—the cutting wit and filthy humor—were things that no longer appealed to me. The voice I had worked so hard to hone and develop was one I no longer desired to proclaim.
By God’s providence, I hadn’t been further down that journey to publication. My ego likely would have had a much firmer grasp on my will had I been any closer to realizing my dream. Though I don’t think I was a believer at the time, I’d already wrestled with God previously over my writing and had hardened my heart.
As a result of this transformation, I’ve spent the last six years working to find my voice—what is it, if anything, that I want to do with this talent? What kind of books do I want to put out, and how do I want to craft my message, and what audience do I want to reach? I’ve written six additional manuscripts experimenting with this.
Interestingly enough, the Lord has taken me back to my first manuscript—the one I in which initially wrestled with him. This was a difficult novel to go back to, the story is very dark, which is what catapulted me into humor in subsequent projects. The plot already had a number of Christian themes. It was time for me to stop wrestling, and instead submit.
Over the last year, I’ve gone back into this novel with new eyes and a lot more experience. I’ve reworked it and polished it. Now it is time to start querying.