Philip Yancey

For those who are interested in (1) Christianity, (2) the Creative Process and Craft of Writing, do check out this youtube video:

Yancey says a lot of extremely thought-provoking and fascinating things about his journey both as a Christian, and as a writer – great spiritual and intellectual inspiration for all! Some quotations to tantalize your interest…

On the Christian life:

A lot of people convey that Jesus is the answer… I find that Jesus doesn’t make life simpler. Jesus makes life more complicated. There are a lot of things I wish I didn’t have to care about… racism etc. I wish I could just pull into my little hole and live my little life and indulge myself narcissistically but Jesus doesn’t allow me that option. So, if I’m going to be a serious follower of Jesus, life isn’t simpler. It’s more complicated. Richer, fuller, more rewarding ultimately, but certainly not simpler.

On approaching a difficult topic like prayer:

I didn’t write because I’m an expert on prayer, I wrote because I am very bad at prayer. And most of my books I start like that, I start from a standpoint of ignorance, sometimes willful ignorance because I’m there to represent my reader and I’ll take a huge topic like prayer…. and I’ll wander around the edges thinking not ‘This is what I’m going to say to you down there’, but ‘My goodness, this is a huge topic. Let’s just dive in and together we’ll go and attack it.’

His views on writing:

Writing involves two different sides of the brain: the left side, and the right side. The left side is the logical, coherent side, the outlining side… That’s how I approach a topic or an article or a chapter. That’s how I approach it, what should go first, what should follow… When I start to write, the right side of the brain says, “Excuse me…”. And what I thought is going to be the introduction to the story in one paragraph becomes the whole article. And what can I do? But I can’t get to that right side without starting through the left side.

He speaks in the video about how Shakespeare and Russian authors are his greatest source of inspiration, his meals with Bono and a near-death experience that changed his life. Enjoy!

Note: This video is taken from the Symposium by the Sea series, which I just discovered yesterday. It’s an annual symposium conducted by Dean Nelson of Point Loma University where he interviews famous writers from all fields on their writing process. I am currently one third through listening to the interview with Ray Bradbury and it’s fascinating stuff! There are interviews with Amy Tan, Eugene Peterson and many contemporary writers. The interview questions are really well-chosen and crafted, resulting in a very enriching experience for the interviewer, the audience and the writer interviewed. I recommend all those interested in writing to listen to more of these interviews.