CCWC Faculty Member
As founder and former Publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction, Allen Arnold was a strong advocate not just for story, but for the storyteller. He has worked with hundreds of authors and published more than 500 novels in his 20 years in Christian publishing.
Allen’s personal ministry is now to nurture the heart and spirituality of the storyteller. More recently, as Director of Content and Resources at Ransomed Heart Ministry, he has been able to expand his reach to help many others—besides just authors—get closer to God and live the story of their life with an awakened heart.
But Allen still has a special place in his own heart for the storyteller. That’s why he’s such a popular presenter at Christian writing conferences, and part of the reason he received the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
Allen will be keynoting and presenting a five-part continuing session at the May 11-14 Colorado Christian Writers Conference entitled “From Overwhelmed to Creative Breakthrough.” I caught up with him to ask him some questions about this session and about his passion for nurturing the hearts of others.
Question: If I sell my stories and articles, then I’m a writer, or an author. That’s my identity; that’s who I am. Or am I missing something?
Here’s what is missing in that assumption: being called to write is not dependent on whether your article or story sells (“IF my story sells, THEN I am a writer”). God calls people in ways that often never correlate to monetary validation. That said, even when a person is called to be a writer and even if they sell millions of stories, that is never their identity. Your identity goes far deeper than being a writer. At your core, you are a son or daughter of the Father. He knows you by name. For who you are…not what you do.
Some children of God are called to create. But calling isn’t your core identity – which is quite freeing because no matter what happens within your calling, it can’t touch your identity
Question: I think most Christian writers believe they are called by God to write their stories. So, after we spend the necessary time learning the craft, all we need to do is start writing, correct? After all, if God wants us to produce, we should be busy producing. Isn’t that how we obey our calling?
The thought that writers should just get “busy producing” is prevalent…and toxic. And it is because it puts our focus on “doing” rather than “being.” And it can cause us to miss the bigger issue of why God invited us to create in the first place. Is it important for authors to improve their craft – yes. But more than that – or perhaps I should say before that – we are called into Creative Fellowship with God. What the world needs most is the warmth from the glow off the face of those who spend time with God. It’s the difference of a storyteller who sits around a small campfire telling stories…and a storyteller whose face is glowing so bright she doesn’t need a campfire to warm the souls of those listening.
Understanding why God invited you to create is the most foundational aspect of your calling. Start there and dive deep into all new waters…then move on to enhance your craft. But by all means start with why you were called and what that means. Because that changes everything.
Note from Marlene – Thank you, Allen and Donna. I’ll post the rest of this interview tomorrow. For now I think Father would have us reflect deeply on what has already been shared.
And good news – You can register for the May 11-14 Colorado Christian Writers Conference through April 15 at the April 11 price! Click here for more info and to register securely online.