Why Do I Write, Part I: A Noble Task

From time to time it is good to ask ourselves the question, “Why do I write? Why do I tell stories?”  We often focus on the craft elements of writing—plot structure, characterization, pacing, etc.— which is a good thing, but it is also good to look at our stories on an even deeper level.  At the heart of our work what do we find?

As a person of faith, I believe good art of all kinds is supposed to raise us up—to give us a glimpse, through beauty, of the Beautiful; to raise our hearts and minds.

In 1999, the late Pope John Paul II, wrote a letter To Artists, emphasizing the importance of art, the beautiful, and the noble task of artists (i.e. architects, writers, painters, musicians, etc.).  He writes, “Humanity in every age, and even today, looks to works of art to shed light upon its path and its destiny.”[1]  Life has intrinsic meaning, we each have a purpose, and art points us to our destiny. 

In his letter, John Paul II writes, “Those who perceive in themselves this kind of divine spark which is the artistic vocation… feel at the same time the obligation not to waste this talent but to develop it, in order to put it at the service of their neighbour and of humanity as a whole.”[2]  I believe God bestows on each of us certain desires in order that we might seek to fulfill them in conformity with His Will.  Is your desire to write?  To tell beautiful stories?  I believe this is my desire and call. 

Let us work to develop our God-given talents—whatever they may be—and to put them “…at the service of [our] neighbor and of humanity as a whole.”  Good art—good stories—help change the world for the better.  They should, to paraphrase Stephen King, enrich the lives of others and our own lives.[3]  They can and should point others to God and give Him glory.  A noble task.  Let us not take it lightly.

Pope John Paul II’s complete letter To Artists can be found here: https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1999/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_23041999_artists.html

[1] John Paul II. “Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II To Artists.” Paragraph no. 14.  Accessed September 2, 2021. https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1999/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_23041999_artists.html

[2] John Paul II, To Artists, no. 3

[3] Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000), 269.

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