by Joyce DiPastena
In our Sunday ward newsletter this week, I found the following quote, by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin:
“In every age we are faced with a choice…. Each choice has a consequence. Each consequence, a destination.” (“Journey to Higher Ground”, Ensign, Nov 2005, p 19)
As Elder Wirthlin went on to talk about the “choices” that lead to Christ and the “destination” to live with Him again, I found myself pondering how this quote might apply to us, as writers.
Each of us is faced with a choice. First, will we be writers? If the answer is, “yes”, then what are the consequences? To truly be a writer (as opposed to one who just talks about writing), requires taking up a pen or sitting down at a keyboard and actually putting words to paper or screen. It requires discipline. It requires work. It requires dedication. For some, it requires courage to risk putting a part of ourselves “out there” where others may read and some may judge us, for better or for worse. But those who are willing the bear these consequences, will arrive at a destination of increased talent, self-satisfaction, and influence in the lives of others, whether family, friends, or a wider reading-circle, even if it’s only granting them a few minutes of diversion from a sometimes lonely, confusing, or burden heavy world.
But that is not the only choice before us. Once we’ve made the choice to be a writer, the next choice is: What kind of writer will we be? The consequence of that choice is the most important one of all. For if our choice is to write “after the manner of the world”, the consequences might include choosing unworthy subjects or presentations, such as glorifying immorality, filling our pages with unclean language, delving into darkness, rather than light.
This is not to say, of course, that our writing should not reflect the battle between good and evil. Each of us, after all, plays a part in that battle every day of our lives. But the choice to write “after the manner of the Lord” (this is my opinion—feel free to chime in with opinions of your own!) carries with it the consequence of finding ways to present this battle, whether in our own lives or in the lives of our fictional characters, without being so graphic in language, description or immoral behavior, that it leaves our readers with words or images they later find themselves unable to scrub clean from their minds, let alone from our own once we have written them!
The choice and consequences of writing “the world’s way” will not only lead our own souls to a destination we will one day deeply regret--away from the Lord--but who knows how many others, influenced by the things we write, might follow us away from him, too? (Remember Alma the Younger’s influence, before his conversion.)
In direct contrast, the choice and consequences of writing “the Lord’s way” will lead us to a destination of happiness, contentment, and peace of mind. It will allow the Spirit to continue His influence in our lives to guide us back towards our Heavenly Home.