The from Where and Why of Story
The Source of Story Writing
I maintain that the source of story is God. He set his-story in motion, and story is rooted in history, in the story of man, whether the true story or the warped story. Furthermore, the source of story writing is God. He “wrote” the original story, and He is the One who gifted mankind with imagination, with the ability to write stories. What He has given can be used and abused, but it comes from Him.
There are those who would throw out God and replace Him with the great evolution story. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis from his book of essays, Weight of Glory, evolution is the majestic myth, all lifeforms coming from an “energized” primeval soup, rising to greatness—ameba to man—and the flourishing of story! Yes, and as he says, we cannot stop the reality of the second law of thermodynamics. The myth will come to a flaming end, the grand story meaningless, forever gone with no one to remember any part of it. In essence, no God, no meaning; no God, no story! Mankind’s supposed achievements are in truth but an absurd charade. The following poem that I wrote back in 1966 illustrates my point.
DEATH BEFORE DEATH
A little leaf fell from high in a tree
And floated about on a frolicking breeze
As it neared the ground a gust thrust it high
It reached and touched the edge of the sky
Its yellow and red in the sun’s bright rays
Gave it presence of life adding joy to the day
But then in a tumult the leaf fell, and alas
The leaf that seemed living lay dead on the grass
When the leaf first fell from high in the tree
What its life really was had ceased to be
Being lifted by winds, it knew life though dead
Thus it seemed to have died on that grassy bed.
Yes, the source of story writing is God. “In the beginning God created,” and so the story and the writing of stories began.
The Purpose of Story Writing
God is the source of story and story writing, but from our perspective, what is the purpose of story writing? Why do people write stories? Why do I write stories?
Someone might answer that we write to entertain, to provide escape from the mundane, or simply to be creative. Entertainment and escape are more than a smile or forgetfulness, and creativity more than clever words strung across a page. The purpose of story writing is growth, ours as writers and that of the readers: expanding knowledge; developing the mind; experiencing vicariously; deepening understanding; breeding such things as empathy and amity.
Another purpose of story writing is to share our own story. When an author pens a story they pen a part of themselves into the story. Often different characters in my stories reveal different characteristics of my person and personality, and different events in my stories are rooted in my own story. Story writing is a way of reflecting our triumphs, or failures, or frustrations, our joys, and our aspirations. As we write we reflect on our own story and learn from it.
We also write stories to influence. In one story we may purpose to influence toward laughter and joy, to lift a heart out of the doldrums. In another story we may purpose to influence our readers understanding of an important issue, such as prejudice. We may desire to influence moral understanding. In many of my stories I purpose to influence toward a deeper understanding of some biblical principle or truth—without being preachy.
A story without a purpose is no story at all. The same is true of the human story. If there is no ultimate purpose to our story, if all ends with the eventual running down of the universe, or with our self-destruction, than there is no story. There will just be an unseen, unremembered blank—nothing!
Praise God, the story continues for good or for bad, a glorious story or a dreadful story. Reality is not absurd! I close with another of my poems, written in free verse.
ASP IN COUNTERFEIT
Three goblets sat on the table before the peasant.
The King’s courier stood nearby.
The peasant stepped forward and looked in the goblets.
One appeared to be clear water and the others red wine.
The water looked refreshing but would only satisfy physical need.
He smiled. Wine would satisfy body and soul.
He had been made aware that one goblet was counterfeit.
The frustrated peasant looked to the courier.
The courier pointed to the goblet on the right.
The peasant was not wont to believe the king’s courier.
He took up the middle goblet and drank it down.
He frowned. It was not wine, but unfermented juice of the vine.
He sat down the goblet and reached for the wine.
Before he could grasp the other chalice his body convulsed;
The peasant’s hand went limp and he fell dead.
From a dark corner the Joker smiled.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end is the way of death.”