A Christian Writer’s Confession

A Christian Writer’s Confession: There is always, just below the surface, and I mean just below the surface, this mad desire to serve only the art, to wreck myself against the limits of my own talent, to stay far enough away from self-immolation that I don’t burn the people around me, but close enough that they feel heat, to peer over the edge over the world and tell you what I see there, to live deep and to live wild, to smoke and drink and eat and fight and make love and sit half-naked at a typewriter and write things so beautiful they will break your heart. We don’t always know the idols we’ve fashioned with our own hands, but this is mine. And I mean it’s just below the surface.

The first obvious rebuttal to this confession is that you don’t have to live hard to be a great artist. My favorite modern writers aren’t Hemingway and Fitzgerald anymore. They’re Marilynne Robinson and Wendell Berry, with maybe a touch of Garbriel García Márquez. A friend suggested I go back and re-read the Psalms. King David served God before art. He made some dreadful choices, and suffered the consequences, but God called him “a man after my own heart,” and David’s art has endured for millennia.

The second rebuttal is that I don’t have to go looking for Trouble. Clearly Trouble knows where I live. Trouble has a key to my house.

2 comments on “A Christian Writer’s Confession

  1. […] “A Christian Writer’s Confession” (John Erik Patterson) points to the temptation “just below the surface” to lead a wild and reckless life (for which many artists become known). […]

  2. Never found sitting under-clad at the keyboard to be inspiring. I do, however, enjoy writing on that rare, relaxing day when I can remain in my pajamas.

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