Reply To: What is the purpose of writing?

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Josiah DeGraaf

To quote the Westminster Shorter Catechism, I believe the highest goal of writing is to help us “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

On a more specific level, God created humanity in his image with the mandate to take dominion over the earth and rule over it in Genesis 1. Ruling over the earth means forming cultures and you can’t form cultures without stories, and so I would argue that telling stories is part of fulfilling the Creation Mandate. Tolkien uses Genesis 1 rather effectively in On Fairy Stories when he says the following: “we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.”

This is also why we try to hone our craft and pursue excellence. Because God was excellent (“very good”) in everything that he did, we endeavor to do likewise to bring honor to him through humble mastery of craft. Even if no one else recognizes what we did, the things that we accomplish for God’s glory are innately valuable and meaningful (see: the short story “Leaf by Niggle” by Tolkien; can you tell I love his thoughts on this? xD).

With regards to publication, there’s another dimension of storytelling as well that I think relates to this, which is that I believe that storytelling is a way to love our fellow image-bearers by helping them make sense of reality. Narratives are one of the most powerful ways we can help others experience truth, and stories are excellent ways to do that.

As a result, I do believe that part of the purpose of writing means looking for ways to use what we write to love others around us. That can take many forms–from just sharing them with family and friends, to pursuing publication, or anything in-between. I definitely don’t think a writer is sinning if they never try to get published! But I do believe that when God gives His people gifts, He gives them gifts so that they not only glorify Him with them, but so they also bless the lives of others with those gifts. What that practically looks like can vary a lot (I don’t believe publication is required). But that’s why I believe publication can fit into the goal of writing, since it’s one of the most powerful ways we can use our gifts in service of others.

Lit fanatic. Eclectic reader. Theology nerd. Writing fantasy at https://josiahdegraaf.com

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