Guest Post: Writing Helps Me Be Me


Today’s guest post comes from Christopher Schmitz, a blogger and author of both fiction and non-fiction, mostly in the Christian realm, about his journey with writing and what it has revealed to him:

 

Writing has always been a part of who I am. I know. That sounds trite. But for people who are writers it’s a fundamental truth.

As I neared completion on my first fiction novel (The Kakos Realm: Grinden Proselyte, a Christian fantasy novel much like an evangelical version of Game of Thrones… soon to be republished this fall,) back in 2005 I found myself fired from a church I pastored when a mini-coup formed as I was on vacation. It was the darkest period of my life: for the first time since my angsty teen years my mind had turned dark enough to consider killing myself. It was seriously bad. I learned in that time that the emotional trauma of the sort I went through (primary male worker/bread-winner) was similar to a woman having a late-term miscarriage. That explained the emotional distress… but an explanation does not necessarily bring healing.

While I worked towards finding healing and bringing balance to my life with some ministerial volunteer work and a secular job I felt as if I operated in a haze of life. This period lasted for a long time as I struggled to rediscover exactly who I was and find my own self-worth. As an author, I began to write. I began to understand who I was—what I had gone through—and how I still had so much to contribute. Writing reconnected me to my soul.

Years later I accepted a position at one of the top ten largest churches in North Dakota (I don’t want to share beyond that and contribute any negativity to them—I just want to reinforce that discovering myself led me to a fairly prominent place.) Despite successful ministry, I endured another church coup—this time against my mentor/boss/ministry-partner/senior-pastor. A minority within the church board, through some shady moves, expelled my pastor. It was all very traumatic.

Because of what I had endured previously, I quite honestly laughed when that group turned its attention to me, next. I knew how low I could be brought and what I could endure. It didn’t make it less painful, but the sense of darkness and the loss of my identity didn’t happen to me. I knew myself.

While I had previously been an author of fiction, with a few essays as exceptions, I still needed to vent the stress. I needed catharsis, and so I picked up my pen and wrote a scathing essay about the corporate sin we’d just engaged in and sent it to a huge swath of people—those in church and ministry officials across the state. I was largely condemned and publicly chastised by a denominational executives the following Sunday. Those scolding me in front of the coup leaders turned aside and gave me an atta-boy behind their backs, knowing that some things need saying, but can only be said by martyrs.

What followed my departure was a ravenous descent into data and research. I started writing. As I inserted my personal experience, as told through story, the walls between fiction and nonfiction began to break down. Because I had internalized so much of the research in the hunt for answers to all the questions the situation had raised, it flowed as easy as the fiction I’d crafted for years.

The earliest draft, which was written over the shortest interval I’ve ever completed a book over, was very angry: this was raw catharsis, after all. It was a long process as I expelled the anger and vitriol and got to the heart of the matter and rediscovered ME through the methodology. Editing (much less enjoyable) allowed me to grapple with it all, refine it, and cope with and release the anger. In essence: writing helps me be me again.

The resulting book was titled Why Your Pastor Left. The whole process resulted in the desire to write both nonfiction AND fiction.

Christopher Schmitz

 

 

 

 

 

Christopher D Schmitz is an author of fiction and nonfiction as well as a regular blogger. As a veteran youth worker who works with “at risk teens,” he has been with Youth For Christ since 2012.

Guest Post: Writing to be a Man of God


How writing helps me be the Man of God I am meant to be

Through much of my working career in the private sector, I found myself more than dissatisfied with the typical nine to five job structure. I worked hard and tried to get along with my co-workers, but there was just something missing; at least that’s how it was for me. I typically enjoyed a job for the first month or two until I got used to it, then the luster would wear thin and I found myself bored. I always thought there was something wrong with me.

 

Fast forward to today, I write full-time as a Christian author. I pen stories that inspire and uplift fellow believers in Christ. The stories are written in a way that come across authenticate and realistic so that the people who read them can identify easily. While I work hard at publishing and writing, it never feels like work in the traditional sense. I always related the word work with something I didn’t want to do.

 

While I used to find myself confused with my dissatisfaction with a typical job, I now feel I understand my past better. The calling that was put on my life when I was a young teenager I believe didn’t allow me to settle for a typical job. If I could settle on a “normal job” I would have never became an author. And now that I’m working full-time as a Christian author, I feel deeply connected with my Creator and Savior as a result of making the switch.

 

I see God through the stories as they unfold into words on the screen and how the Lord’s plan for our lives is so much better than what we think is best. And it’s not only when I’m writing that I can see God in these new ways. It’s an email from a reader explaining how the free devotional changed their life or how a story helped them see things differently. Those little pieces of the puzzle come together to show just how BIG God is, and how He’s working in the lives of those in the world.

 

Early on in my writing career, I relied heavily on God to show me how my family and I were going to make it month-to-month. The first month I left my job was the hardest, my wife and I were terrified, but the Lord provided, like He always does. Every single thing that happens not only within the realm of writing and publishing, but also in my life points to God and His awesomeness time and time again.

 

You might or might not be asking yourself, where was God for me before writing? God was still there, but it was different. I didn’t have full-time work that was revolving around Him. I didn’t see emails come through my inbox that were work related about how God was changing their life; it was memos about birthday cake in the break room. I am blessed to do the work I do and I’m eternally thankful for the opportunity God has given me.

 

With full-time work centered on God, I find myself constantly praying and connecting with God. I feel I must consistently re-direct praise and glory and success to God in order to stay level headed. My relationship with God and my life as a whole has forever been changed.

 

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T.K. CHAPIN writes Contemporary Christian Romance books designed to inspire and tug on your heart strings. He believes that telling Contemporary Christian Romance stories of faith, love and family help build the faith of Christians and help non-believers see how God can work in the life of believers. He gives all credit for his writing and storytelling ability to God. 
Links:

Book Blog Tour: Different Gifts, Same Spirit


More chances to enter in the giveaway on M.L. Anderson’s blog about writing as a ministry. In this guest post, I talk about how the seeming death of one dream lead to my realization that I wasn’t being open enough in my own sense of vocation. Only one week to win a signed copy of Drunk Dialing the Divine, my debut poetry collection from eLectio publishing!

Guest Post: Sensing God in Words


  Many times, people have asked me why I write religious poetry. Whether its my writer friends asking why I would spend my time writing about God, or my church peers asking me why poetry is my choice for expressing my faith (in both its most positive and negative lights), I have always been questioned for bringing the two often separate experiences together (especially nowadays, when the submission guidelines for most journals explicitly refuse to publish religious content of any kind and religious journals will only accept work of a specific aesthetic or creed). So I enlisted the help of another religious writer, Megan L. Anderson, to help explain at least one facet of why God and Words go so great together. 

 

Sensing God in Words

Good writing distracts us from our lives.  Great writing transports us to another level of awareness entirely.  Think of the last book you couldn’t put down.  The one you stayed up until 2:00 a.m. reading because pausing on a cliffhanger was out of the question.  The one that seeped into every conversation and observation you made until you turned the last page.  The one that opened your eyes to a new dimension of ordinary life.   The crucial element lies in sensory detail.  While we tend to consider reading and writing intellectual activity, effective literature engages a degree of physicality as well.  The greatest penned works captivate the whole self and lead us toward richer experiences of our own lives.

Writing, especially poetry, encapsulates in words sensations we don’t encounter in our day to day lives, and opens a broader range of stimulations for us to consider.  As reading exposes us to a wider breadth of experiences, it also guides us into deeper understanding of God.  Through our reading of not only the Bible, but poetry and prose as well, He engages every aspect of our humanity: our imaginations, intellects, relationships, and bodies.

God designed us to experience an elaborate array of sensations through which we may come to know Him more fully.  We watch steam softy rise and curl from a cup of tea and it reminds us of his warmth and comfort.  We take courage in God’s protection as we hear raindrops smack against thunder-rattled windows while inside we remain safe and dry.  The tartness of lemonade, scent of brand new tennis balls, sharp sting of a paper cut, and every sensory encounter in between are triggers meant to call our attention to the character of God.

Scripture calls for us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37).  If He desires all of us – our whole selves – then doesn’t it make sense that He would reach out to us through all of our faculties, our ability to interpret words included?   As readers we can access insights into the divine by considering God’s relation to the human experiences described in poetry and literature.  The question is:  How much of ourselves are we willing to allow God access to in return?

 

Megan L. Anderson is a freelance writer, focusing on writing as a ministry. Read more about how Anderson plans to meet people’s needs through writing on her website

To Name the Unnameable- Guest Post


Today, on the eLectio publishing Author’s corner, I talk about National Poetry Month. Specifically, I talk about the ways in which writing, and reading, poetry has changed my life- and how it might change yours as well.

National Poetry Month: Let Him Easter In Us


Anyone else a Gerard Manley Hopkins lover? Today, on the 7 on a shoestring blog I talk about Hopkins and other modern Christian poets, like myself, and the power that poetry can have in one’s personal prayer life.  Just one more way that you, and those you love, can honor National Poetry Month, and yourself!