N.D. Wilson on Writing

N.D. Wilson on writing:

“This is simplistic, but it is a starting point. Aim for the whole person. Aim for the downy hair between the shoulder blades and the grinding joints. Aim for the throat and the diaphram and the stomach. Make people nervous, breathless, and hungry. Or just mad.”

This quote was published by Wilson in a blog posts on writing. He wrote a 5-part series—“So You Wanna Be a Writer”—that will appeal largely to fiction writers, but I think these are lessons that will benefit the non-fictional writers out there, too. Here’s his series:

So You Wanna Be a Writer, Pt. 1 (Don’ts)

So You Wanna Be a Writer, Pt. 2 (For the Critics, These Pearls . . .)

So You Wanna Be a Writer, Pt. 3 (Prose for Body and Brain)

So You Wanna Be a Writer, Pt. 4 (An Exercise)

So You Wanna Be a Writer, Pt. 5 (Found Dialog)

So You Wanna Be a Writer, Pt. 6 (The Obstacle Course) NEW!

Pride’s Problem with Evil

“The problem of evil is a genuine problem, an enemy with sharp pointy teeth. But it is not a logical problem. It is an emotional one, an argument from Hamlet’s heartache and from ours. It appeals to our pride and our nerve endings. We do not want to hear an answer that puts us so low. But the answer is this: we are very small.

The apostle Paul: Who are you, O man?

Nothing in the existence of evil implies that God must not be in control. Nothing implies that He does not exist (exactly the opposite—without Him, the category evil does not exist; all is neutral flux and entropy). The struggle comes when we look at ourselves in the mirror, a carnival mirror, a mirror that stretches our worth into the skies. Given my immense personal value, how could a good God ever allow me to feel pain?

Our emotions balk at omni-benevolence.”

—N.D. Wilson, Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World (Thomas Nelson 2009), pp. 109-110. My full review of this book is forthcoming.

Nietzsche’s Pity

“Nietzsche published The Anti-Christ in 1888. Along with many other things, he had this to say about pity: ‘Pity thwarts the whole law of evolution, which is the law of natural selection. It preserves whatever is ripe for destruction; it fights on the side of those disinherited and condemned by life; by maintaining life in so many of the botched of all kinds, it gives life itself a gloomy and dubious aspect.’

One year later Nietzsche entered into madness. True or false, the story is that he was overcome by the sight of a horse being whipped. Unhinged by pity. He wouldn’t die until 1900. For a decade he was kept alive and maintained through his insanity, strokes, and incapacitating illness. At the age of fifty-five, partially paralyzed, unable to speak or walk, he discovered what life waited for him beyond the grave.

Nietzsche lashed out at his Maker with his tongue, the only notable muscle he had—his greatest gift. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

There was little that Nietzsche loathed more than the heritage of his Lutheran father.

I have never been irritated by Nietzsche, never annoyed. At his most blasphemous, at his most riotously hateful and pompous, I have only ever been able to laugh. But even then, there is something bittersweet about the laughter. I know his story. I know how his bluff was called, how he was broken.

Again from The Anti-Christ: ‘The weak and the botched shall perish: first principle of our charity. And one should help them to it.’ Spake the paralytic. The man fed with a spoon by those who loved him.

‘What is more harmful than any vice—Practical sympathy for the botched and the weak—Christianity….’

And yet, because I see the world through my eyes and not his, I have sympathy for Nietzsche himself. Bodies and minds are not all that can be botched in a man. Souls can be hollow, twisted, thrashing, more bitter than pi**.”

—N.D. Wilson, Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World (Thomas Nelson 2009), pp. 124-125. My review is forthcoming.