Here’s my question. We’ve probably all heard the quote from Orson F. Whitney:
“We shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. God’s ammunition is not exhausted. His highest spirits are held in reserve for the latter times. In God’s name and by His help we will build up a literature whose tops will touch the heaven, though its foundation may now be low on the earth.”
In your opinion, how can we as LDS authors reach such lofty aspirations?
This always sparks so much controversy. So, dear readers, have at it. There is room for differing opinions here, just be nice about it. No nasty personal comments.
But before you post your perspective, here’s mine. First off, Milton and Shakespeare are who they are due to time. When they were writing, some of their contemporaries thought them talentless hacks.
And I can see where they were coming from. I love some Shakespeare, and I hate some Shakespeare. What makes Milton and Shakespeare the ‘ideal on the pedestal’ is their survival over time. Who’s to say that something recently published by an LDS author isn’t going to also pass the test of time and be held up in a few hundred years as the ideal for the new writing generation to strive toward? We don’t know. We can’t know. All we know for sure is what we personally like and don’t like, right now, in this moment when we live.
Another thought I have is that we don’t have to “make” Whitney’s prediction come true. As writers, we don’t need to worry about the fact that we’re not writing as well as Shakespeare or Milton. We don’t need to despair over the state of LDS literature or denigrate writers’ attempts at capturing their view of the world in words. We don’t need to fret over not making the best-seller list.
We simply do the best we can. We write the best story we can, in a prayerful manner, and God will bless our efforts and create the masterpieces He wants the world to read for our time, place and circle of influence.
A few practical steps to this are (and these apply to all writers, not just LDS writers):
- Write a lot. The more we write, the better we get.
- Write well. Constantly work to better our skills and talents.
- Write honestly. Put honest thoughts, feelings, emotions on the page. Pray for the spirit to quicken our minds and guide our pen.
- Write about great things. The struggle between good and evil; between the spiritual man and the natural man; the heroic journey of earth life.
That’s what I think. What about you?