The Sorceror’s Agenda: Thoughts on writing and issue-driven fiction
To what degree should artists and art critics be engaged with social and ethical issues? As writers or practitioners of the arts, what responsibilities do we have?
In an article entitled “Degrees of Separation,” written for Trinity Western Magazine a few years back, I wrote about the writer’s calling. There, I noted my surprise during the writing of my first novel, how strong Christian elements kept emerging almost unintentionally. “But,” I said, “it’s in this sort of unplanned, organic necessity of character that a subtle Christian message might best be expressed: in the character’s voice, speaking the character’s truth. The writer is in service to that character’s truth, not to any overt Christian message he or she wishes to impart.” Substitute “Christian message” for “social” or “ethical” message and my thesis stands.
One acquiesces to inspiration—and I use the word in all its senses—accepting the possible divinity of its origin, the “spirit” at the very root of the word.
“Likewise,” I said in that article, “if we perform our cultural tasks and our secular jobs with excellence; if we acquiesce to the possibility of divine intent, then our vocations will be harnessed in ways we can’t predict. As Drake says, ‘There is value in a creation task, and if you take the creation task for the value it has in itself, that will ultimately come to serve the kingdom of God’” — or the social or ethical issue by which we find ourselves engaged.
“The Sorceror’s Agenda” will explore the novelist’s responsibility to engage ethical issues solely in service to a character. For it’s only by relinquishing our individual agendas as artists that we are capable of conveying larger truths.
Loranne Brown was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She majored in English lit at the University of Toronto, then married and moved to Bermuda — where she and her husband enjoyed an eleven-year honeymoon before resettling near Vancouver, BC. Her two almost-grown children show absolutely no interest in her writing except when it interferes with their plans. Her first novel, The Handless Maiden (Doubleday Canada 1998), was published to critical acclaim. The Handless Maiden was a finalist for the 1999 BC Book Awards (Fiction) and the 1999 Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award. It was also long-listed for the 2000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. A past president of the Federation of BC Writers, Loranne coordinates and teaches in the Professional Writing stream of the Faculty of Professional Studies and Performing Arts at Trinity Western University, Langley, BC. In February 2006, Loranne traveled to Ottawa for the National Gallery of Canada’s retrospective of Norval Morrisseau’s art, then continued on to Cornwall, England, on a solo location-scouting trip for her current novel (working title, Blind Judgment). After that gratifying experience, she’s decided she may never travel with her family again.