Monday, 12 December 2016

Waging peace in the minds of our readers by Andrew J Chamberlain

We all know that the peacemakers are blessed, and as writers we can share in that blessing by doing our bit to share peace with others.
We are in a privileged position. We have access to other people in a way that no one else has. This is because we are not just able to do that which promotes peace, or speak that which promotes peace, we can also reach inside their heads of our readers and make peace there, if they will let us in. In true sermon fashion I’d like to suggest three ways in which we can do this.

Peace with others
Last month I wrote a blog called ‘The UKIPer and the Drag Queen’ (12th Novebmer 2016) in which I hoped to challenge all of us, including myself, to see people in a different way and to resist the stereotypes of our own tribe. As writers we can confront stereotypes, but we need to do so honestly and with authenticity and imagination. It’s not enough to say the right thing that everyone else is saying, in the same way they are saying it. So for example, we’ve heard the message that we should be kind to refugees or the homeless. The message in itself is familiar, too familiar. But if this is your passion how can you deliver the message with the kind of originality and honesty that will really move people? How can you personalise that message? How can you make it more compelling and potent? That is the writers challenge.

Peace with ourselves
Our own minds are one of the major battlefronts in the struggle between war and peace. The written word can help us here in the form of blogs and journals. We might even learn enough and be experienced enough to share something valuable with others on this subject. It’s a privilege to be able to show others how our own experiences have helped us, but it’s an expensive privilege. As a writer I may have to spend myself extravagantly to present my message. That means I might need to be very honest about my own path to peace, in order to make what I am saying real for others. I might need to talk about my own battle with self-hate or pornography or anorexia, I might need to be honest about the cost and pain to persuade others that I really have been where they are, and I can present a real solution that will work for them as it did for me.

Peace with God
Linked closely to peace with ourselves is the challenge of finding peace with God. I believe that it is only through waging a war, of sorts, with God that we can find peace with Him. It is only through contention that we can find that peace of God that passes all understanding. We see countless examples of this in scripture, from Jacob to Elijah, and Peter to Paul. This is not a superficial journey, we have to get to it the hard way, we have to earn it, in order to present the story with integrity to others.
In fiction and non-fiction, in short form and long form writing, we have a challenge and an opportunity – to be peacemakers through the written word. It will cost us, but the ministry will be all the more rewarding for it.

Andrew Chamberlain is a writer and creative writing tutor. He is the presenter of The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt, a podcast that offers practical, accessible advice on the craft. He is crowdfunding the development of a handbook to accompany the podcast, the book will be out in the Autumn of 2017. Andrew has published fiction and collaborated on a number of ghost-writing projects through Authentic Media, including the bestselling, 'Once an Addict' with Barry Woodward. He has also self-published a number of science fiction short stories. 

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