"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Right To Write

As writers, we can be confident of our protection under the First Amendment, a wonderful thing. But are there times when the right to our words blurs, are there times when the line isn’t clear, when our words could do more harm than good? What do we do in these situations?

I was recently talking to a close writing friend who struggled with such issues. She’d been writing a fictitious story surrounding a real-life event from her past, involving one of her parents. The event was painful, but my friend had forgiven her parent and was twisting it into something good. Her story of redemption was born of a desire to help young girls who had gone through similar circumstances.

Nearing the end of the writing process, my friend was assailed by doubts. Of course she wanted to help others, but would she be hurting her parent in the process? No matter that the parent had been completely at fault, that the sin was theirs to own, my friend wanted to forge a relationship, not break it apart.

After a talk with her parent, she became even more discouraged. Said parent was against her writing such a story.

What to do?

When my friend came to me with her problem, I could see the passion she held for her story, the desire to make beauty out of the bleak ashes of her past. But could such beauty come to light beneath the disapproving heavy hand of her history?

When I’d last left my friend, I felt some of the old anger at her parent churning. She would write the story, and that was that.

Part of me cheers her on. Her past is her story, and she could do what she pleases with it—particularly in the fictional world.

Another part of me doesn’t want to see her relationship with her parent further bruised.

So sure, we do have a right to use our words however we want, but my question to you, my blog-readers, is this: are there times we should opt not to use such rights? How do we decide between the costs? Should we dare stop the opportunity of good overcoming evil?


  1. I think it's going to be different for every person. Someone else really can't answer it for her. I think she's got to pray and see how God directs.

    I can see the dilemma for sure. What a tough thing... :(

  2. I always drive myself crazy when I give answers like this, but honestly, it seems like one of those things people have to pray about and decide for themselves...maybe with the help of trusted, wise mentors. Because sometimes, that nudge in our spirit might really be God saying, write this, do it, even if it's hard. Other times, the niggle of concern is the Holy Spirit holding us back from doing something that could do more damage than good. But yeah, like Linds said, what a dilemma!

  3. Wow, words of wisdom from two ladies I very much respect! I think you're both right--and as much as I want to give the right advice, it probably is just one of those many gray areas.

    Thanks for helping me out on this, ladies!

  4. Wow, tough question, Heidi. I have a similar book on my hard drive that dredged up some ugliness of the past. In the end, I was at peace with recognizing it as a way to flesh out my own hurts and move on with God's grace. (In other words, no one else will ever see the story. :))

    But that may not be all God has planned for someone else's story. Whether it's His will that others see it or not will become clear if the person pursues publication. Rejections have a good way of letting us know whether He intends something for readers or just the writer.

    1. Hmmm, I hadn't even thought of that, Sarah. Thanks so much for sharing your own experience with me.