The Creation Voice (A Book Update)

20130102-060011.jpgIt is said that in the beginning, God created the heavens with nothing but the word of his mouth. Light, water, sky, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, fish, animals–he created them all with nothing more than a phrase. Atoms to atoms; molecules to molecules; cells to cells. The foundations of the world were set in motion with almighty statements. Imperatives.

Sometimes I wonder about God’s inflection, whether his voice thundered across the void, or whether it was stiller, smaller. Like a whisper. Was it firm and unbending, or was it full of wonder and excitement? Were his pre-man words compassionate, even then knowing that the coming prize of all creation would require salvation from a good and loving God? Was he giddy about the story that was about to unfold?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, not beyond a reasonable doubt, anyway. But what I know is that in the beginning God spoke.

I’ve been thinking about the creative power of words, lately. My morning commute lasts all of about fifteen minutes on the busiest of days, and each day I’ve been taking to dictation. I speak into my mobile device allowing some app to transliterate my speech to text. It is an imperfect act of creation, the app sometimes substituting “transliterate,” for “translate” (see above), but it’s an act of creation nonetheless.

People ask why I came to writing. I’ve been prone to it since I was a kid, I say. I once wrote a short story about the resurrection of the dead, that great biblical event, using frogs as the object of the rapture. The good folks of the fictional town of Almer ran around shrieking at the sight of frog bones hopping heavenward to meet Jesus in the air. Only ten years old, I postulated that we got all this pre-trib/post-trib stuff wrong, figuring that it was only the amphibians who were worthy of being spared the wrath of the Antichrist. Best I can remember, it was my first short story. All this is neither here nor there. It’s just an anecdote I thought you might enjoy. Sometimes the act of creation is that simple.

But always, the screen begins blank. A white canvas. It’s the writer’s job to use voice to muck it all up, to ink it into something useful, feelable, breathable, tasteable, maybe even something over which the reader laughs and cries. That act of writing is a metaphor. Without voice, without words, there would be nothing. No atoms; no molecules; no cells.

Only empty space.

I’ve recently finished a longish piece of fiction. I’m not sure whether to call it a “novel” or “novella” just yet. There’s still a final set of revisions, and perhaps an editor needs to put their hands on it. But through this process of creation, I’ve found characters that I’ve come to love, characters that seem real to me.

Weird? Maybe. Metaphor? Absolutely.

Over the coming months, I’m inviting you behind the scenes. We’ll see whether my piece has the stuff to make it past mere manuscript phase. Will my characters leave my briefcase? Or will they live more introverted lives in the quieter places? I’m hoping for the former, but only time will tell. And I’ll keep you updated along the way.

*For regular updates, follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page.
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14 Responses to The Creation Voice (A Book Update)

  1. i got to hear jeffrey eugenides speak this week and he said he didn’t know truth except in his characters. i can’t wait to read yours. excited about this process!

    • sethhaines says:

      That’s a good comment. I learned a lot about myself in this process. Uncovered a fear or two and found a few things of which I am not afraid. Truth in the characters… yes.

  2. Tanya Marlow says:

    I just love your theological musings, as ever, the permission to be creative.

    I shall be following with great interest!

    Is it weird that I also REALLY want to read the frog story?

    • sethhaines says:

      I really really wish I had it. I actually hand copied it over and over and sold it to my classmates for a quarter per copy. My recollection is that I made about $1.25 on the project.

      • Kimberly says:

        $1.25?! This is almost as much as I’ve made writing! Looking forward to a peek behind the scenes:)

      • sethhaines says:

        And just think, that was in late 80s dollars, so that means (adjusting for inflation) it’s really more like $2.99 in today’s dollars!

        Thanks for stopping in. I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you all.

  3. hisfirefly says:

    We seem to be in the same place, don’t we?

  4. Josh says:

    I’m glad to hear this! As nothing more than a friendly stranger who only sees what you share out here on the Web, I’ve suspected that you might be a great storyteller. And I mean that in the archetypal sense of a gift that transcends medium.

    Don’t get me wrong: most of what you share is interesting, just as many others I read regularly are interesting. But I remember your stories, characters, without even trying… and they always leave me with some lingering sense of something experienced, not simply read. That’s uncommon, at least for me.

    And I can’t say I’d be surprised if you turned out to be right about the frogs. =)

    • sethhaines says:

      Josh,

      Thanks for these kind words. It’s easy to wonder whether I’ve aptly conveyed a sense of something real in my writing, so your comment is a high compliment.

      And as for the frogs… I hope I am. Maybe we’ll shoot emails to each other when it happens confirming that neither of us are out of our ever-loving gourds.

      Thanks again, Josh.

  5. Will follow along as this story unfolds. I think fiction is the great harbinger of truth. We can fold in fact and veil it as fiction. And this passion to create something from nothing on paper, on a canvas, well He stirs up the gift. And you use it well.

  6. HopefulLeigh says:

    SETH! This makes me happy. I hope I’ll get to experience these characters. Fiction writing is such a life-changing process, at least it was for me.

  7. pastordt says:

    Goody goody – can’t wait. And yes, it is quite likely that you need an editor. We all need editors at some point along the way. Ann Kroeker is a great one.

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