Telling About Light

Unless you’ve read C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ll explain: in that book, Lewis notes that art is a conduit whereby the artist “tells about Light”. In the story, “telling about Light” is a reference to telling about God, and, in a way, it is. But I took it for a slightly different meaning.

First off, what does “light” even mean? Well, it implies something about how we understand darkness: darkness is the absence of light. Darkness obscures and hides. Could, then, “darkness” be the shadowy obscurity of the mind, that writing so often illuminates?

If you’re like most writers, your work is directed at some audience. Maybe it’s a large group of people, maybe it’s only one person, perhaps it’s to a far more general audience, but probably at one time during your career you came to the conclusion that you would be writing things that others would read.

Everyone on this planet is different. Maybe we’re not all interesting, but we all have something to say. Fools have very little to bring to the table, and sages usually have much. Some people may concur on certain points, but no two people agree on everything. All human beings have their own different wants, needs, quirks, flaws, and habits. This is how the world is built.

Everyone has a message, that is, something to say. Everyone’s message illuminates parts of the reader’s mind that they maybe never even thought about (even if they disagree). Could then this “light” be the message that everyone carries alone with them? Could the “light” be what they believe?

You might be tempted to say that I’m endorsing preaching, but I’m not. There is a difference between sharing your light with the world and lecturing them. There’s a line between using a fictional story to make your point and writing a story that has a gently delivered take-it-or-leave-it point. The first is politicizing; the second is telling about light.

Some people like to tell the world like they think about themselves. The light they have to share through writing isn’t enlightening or true; merely annoying. Usually, those people make their work kind of like an Aesop’s Fable with a moral that contradicts the story: the real focus is on themselves. Don’t be like this.

So how do you tell about light? It’s simple: you write.

Don’t write to communicate the point, though. You can’t really consciously pick a message for the story, or it turns out to make its point with a baseball bat. You have heard me say that the way you view the world will tattle on you. If you choose to be a grump…people will know, just by reading your story. If you believe in being charitable and kind, there is no reason why your characters won’t follow after your example.

Telling about light is about sharing your message with the world. It is your piece, your Ted talk, and your words. Writing helps us illuminate the world. All good fictional writing is also a thoughtful commentary: for writing fiction or nonfiction, you’re telling us about the world, yourself, and your opinions. Whether you like it or not, these things will manifest themselves in your writing.

But don’t be intimidated. Look yourself in the eye and be honest. The more books out there, the better. If you can make it as a successful author, you will tell thousands of people about light. If you never sell more than five copies…well, you’ve recognized the light for yourself, and you’ve told it to five other people. Mission accomplished.

Good luck, and happy writing!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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