He mixes his tints
with age-learned patience,
blending the hues with tenderness
that nature might envy.
extensions of himself,
caress the canvas;
his measured strokes
cover the white
with the colors of his soul;
and shape on it
the image, not of what he paints,
but of himself.
I wrote this poem, titled “The Artist,” when I was 24 - more than half a lifetime ago. When I was thinking about what to share in this article, it occurred to me that what I wrote then is also true of us as writers. No matter what genre we write in, our work will inevitably reveal something of ourselves. Of course, our voice will be different if we are writing a serious work of non-fiction compared with a lighthearted romance, but it will still be our voice.
In fact, finding our voice and developing it as a true expression of our self is a very important aspect of our growth as writers. Our readers are not just interested in words on a page. They want to make a connection, to feel that somehow they know the author. The whole reason why we “love” some authors and “can't stand” others in not just their skill or otherwise with the use of the English language, but also that part of themselves that is painted on the canvas of their pages, and the extent to which that resonates with our own concepts and standards.
For us, however, there is something more to consider. We are not simply writers, we are Christian writers. Whether we are writing a tome on theology, a romance, a poem, or a story for children, the image we paint with our words should never be just our own. We were created in God's image, (Gen. 1:27) and we are being restored into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29.) Our purpose in all things is to manifest Him to the world. As with the rest of our lives, our writing should always bear the stamp of His image, even if it is not aimed at a specifically Christian market.
Perhaps the best test of this is to ask ourselves, if Jesus were to stand and read this piece before the whole host of heaven, would it receive applause, or just embarrassed silence?