Tag Archives: publishing; CBA; Christian writing; books; writing; story; originality

Reality Check #3: You’re STILL Not Original

"Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it."Laurence J. Peter
"Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats."Howard Aiken
"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."C. S. Lewis
"Genius might well be defined as the ability to makes a platitude sound as though it were an original remark."L. B. Walton
"About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment."Josh Billings
"Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes."Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Why do we resist the thought that we might be unoriginal? Ecclesiastes says there is nothing new under the sun. Does that not apply to people? I understand the emotional distress it might cause to consider, but remember the deadliest of sins is pride and diverting attention away from the original source and onto self. Can I still feel good about myself and be dead to self? Of course! All cynical and argumentative tendencies aside, the common definition of originality is not only an impediment to true confidence, it’s fundamentally opposed to the truest characteristic of Christian writers, that of being like Christ. Dying to self, getting out of the way of God’s work, pointing others to the One who originated everything that is, this is the goal. Our semantics and perspectives get in the way here, but we can’t be precise because we’re not original. We’re all gummed up by our personalities, opinions, and experiences, none of which are chosen by us.

I suppose I could have said YOU ARE NOT IMPORTANT and have been just as accurate. But that’s no less offensive to some. I’m simply trying to point out that if the choice for Christian writers is either to write what comes from you or what comes from God, why do we attempt to be seen as original or important? I’d rather see that you’re merely a vessel for what is greater than you and that your perspective is appropriately focused on what is greater.

Self vs. God. Where’s your drive derive? When it’s not about you, the pressure’s off. You can be yourself, confident in the gift God’s given you to write from your heart. It’s a paradox, to be sure: how we can all be so particular and unique, and yet still nothing new to God. Having his perspective on things can be revolutionary, and frequently paradoxical. I hope you’ll consider the idea that if you’ll get out of the way, you’ll see a greater view of what’s really important.

So, yes. Moving on. Next time I’ll have Susan Meissner’s response to a little comment she made about writing fast, in response to Athol’s great post on the pace of publishing. Come on back.