For me, gluttony
manifests itself in a monstrous appetite ...
The credits rolled and I sat
stunned in the dark theater. While some stories sneak up on you, Se7en
(a philosophical thriller featuring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) hit
me between the eyes. I knew of the seven deadly sins categorized by
Catholicism, yet to see them portrayed in such chilling fashion
underlined the battles we all face to rise above cultural apathy and
the sinful nature.
In microcosm, I struggle with
these issues each time I write. I want to tell stories that capture the
human condition, but I’m an object of God’s mercy in that very process.
The traditional seven deadly
sins form a list of my own artistic obstacles. Any one of these, left
to fester, cripples my efforts in a hurry. Perhaps sharing them will be
an act of catharsis. Perhaps, by some act of grace, it’ll challenge and
inspire others to stay true to the calling in their own hearts.
I can almost hear Brad Pitt
ticking them off as he tracks down a killer . . .
a writer, it’s easy to doubt myself. Soon, despair takes hold and tries
to keep me from utilizing the talents God has entrusted to me. Yes,
sometimes I need a mind-clearing hike in the woods, or a few moments on
the back porch with my Bible and a cup of coffee. Eventually, though, I
have to get off my lazy butt and write. No excuses. Gotta type a
sentence. Then another. By doing so, I invest my talents instead of
burying them. In the end, I long to hear my Master say: “Well done,
good and faithful servant.”
2. Envy—If I
told you I didn’t envy others’ success, I’d be lying. I truly want the
best for fellow writers, which is why I review and endorse so many of
their books. But every once in a while—okay, every other day—I find
myself wishing I had the sales, the ads, the awards so liberally handed
out to obvious hacks and wannabes. Oops. There I go again, letting
selfish ambition color my evaluations. Very ugly. Gotta stop that.
one acts as envy’s twin. I’ve never been a materialistic person, but
when I get into the marketing mode that is preached throughout the
publishing world, I find myself driven by a desire for greater sales,
larger advances, and a hefty royalty check. Nothing wrong with wanting
to do well. I don’t believe poverty is a form of godliness any more
than riches are the path to heaven. I do know, though, that the desire
for “more” can pollute this little ol’ heart of mine.
weight takes some effort for the Wilson side of my family. That doesn’t
mean gluttony is no struggle for me, though. It all comes down to
enjoying things in moderation. I’m not a big sugar junkie. Salted
popcorn or chips, all the way. Caffeine is a regular part of my diet,
but I can live without it (yeah, that’s what they all say, right?). For
me, gluttony manifests itself in a monstrous appetite for books, books,
books. This becomes an obstacle when my fiction addiction pushes aside
my craving for God’s Word. And I wonder why the creative well runs dry?
Okay, so I’m not the brightest candle in the chandelier.
wrath tends to show itself in petty grudges. Like any job, writing can
involve personal conflicts. In general, I’m a peacemaker. I’ll get
right up in your face if necessary, but I’ve found that resolution
comes much easier by using gentle
answers to turn away wrath. That
said, over the years I’ve let the slivers of others’ comments get down
under my skin. I’ve limped along, nursing my wounds. Nope, time to dig
those out and move on. Full speed ahead.
I sit to write, I open my mind to a world of creativity. I put myself
in the hands of the ultimate Creator, hoping to capture even a glimmer
of His truth and grace. My eyes, however, have gone places they should
never have wandered. I’ve wallowed in the mud. Those memories try to
flash across my mental screen every time I plant myself at the
computer. My wife and I have created a password for our Internet
filter, with each of us knowing only half the password. This acts as a
practical guard over my sinful nature, but it still comes down to
taking every thought captive. I don’t have time for that junk. I need
to write. I need to live and love. None of that comes from cheap
flashes of skin.
dog is a dachshund/beagle mix, a great little pet. Best of all, she’s
teachable. With large brown eyes, she tries to understand and act upon
our commands. As a writer, I want to remain teachable. I have great
editors who give sound advice and storytelling insights, and I would be
a fool to ignore them. Still, it’s so easy to take undue pride in my
creative efforts. They’re my babies, after all—and don’t you go poking
fun at my baby! My pride can also surface when I start comparing myself
to others. (I mean, it’s really quite clear that Faulkner had nothing
The next time I watch Se7en—and
there will be a next time—I’ll get caught up in the dark musings of
Pitt and Freeman. I’ll sit stunned, as always, at the depictions of
personal sin and the insidious evil of compromise.
I’ll also be challenged yet
again to write thrillers with that same sort of impact, while offering
glimmers of grace to those on the fringes of faith.
Maybe you’ll be there with me,
reading my books or writing one of your own.