December 19, 2007
Writing: The New Spirituality?
I was listening to an audio dialogue between Julia Cameron (author of The Artist's Way) & Natalie Goldberg (author of Writing Down the Bones) called “A Conversation on The Writing Life” when I was arrested by their statement: “Writing is the new spirituality.” For both of them writing is the path to making meaning of the world, knowing yourself, (for Cameron) finding a higher power, and (for Goldberg) reaching a Zen state of understanding. And they both spoke about how writing leads us to truth.
Conversely, they talked about how some writers find that they cannot face the truth that writing demands of them, because it requires such piercing self-awareness. Writers can get sucked into alcoholism and other negative patterns. Some never find their way out.
I agree that writing can be a spiritual act. And we bring our souls into our writing. It is a dangerous act that must be guided by a trustworthy God. But writing as a religion? Sounds scarier than the line outside Target the day after Thanksgiving. What a fickle god writing would be!
Here’s what Vinita Hampton Wright says in IVP's The Soul Tells a Story:
When you’re dealing with something as soulful as your creativity, it’s good to develop some healthy respect for its inherent power. It’s equally important to acknowledge the transcendent character of creativity as well as its tendency to stir up all of life. Creativity emerges from the human soul, and this is a complex entity. Your creative vision resides there—and so do your fears. . . .
Nothing can be more dark and frightening than what the soul discovers when yet another layer of the self is pulled back. (p. 192)Throughout the book, Wright takes these kind of deep questions that writers like Cameron and Goldberg are asking and uncovers how Christian spirituality can lead us to a safe and healthy place as writers. I highly recommend her book as a wonderful journey into the deep questions of writing and spiritual life.