My Pen Life
- By Indu Shanmugam
- Published 05/4/2008
Indu Shanmugam is a 20-something, college student from Oregon, USA. She is majoring in English literature and language. She also studied Theology for a short period. She wants to be a teacher. As a literature enthusiast, she enjoys literature of all types and from writers of various backgrounds from the classics, French realists, Christian writings like C.S Lewis and South Asian literature. As for her own writings, "I am still trying to find and develop my own voice." She sees the art of the written word as a way to speak about Christ and explore truth. Before she met Jesus Christ, she has been searching for the meaning of life through experimentation of other religions, philosophies and ideas. At the age of 17, she accepted Christ after a powerful encounter with God through a miracle. God's presence and deep truths in the Bible fuel her creativity. She is involved in church activities and has a love for the church and would like to see every believer grow, become closer to God and live fruitfully. She loves traveling, sipping bubble teas, theatre, music, films and hanging out with friends and has a weakness for cheesecake.
The arts is one of my passions, interests, hobbies and calling. Why does glorifying God have to be fit into one box or only one way? I get looked at as pursuing something 'secular' or not Christian enough. I've been told that I'm wasting my time. Then again, it is God that molds and shows my steps not man-made religion. Anyway, God can be glorified through the arts.
My interests are writing, theatre, dancing and painting. One medium is too confining. However, writing has always been my niche.
Realism as inspiration - I like realism. I like my language to be fluid, yet speak and portray life 'as it is.' I've been reading Salman Rushdie's "Midnight Children". I've read some of Toni Morrison and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Magic Realism is interesting too. It's inspiring. Recently, I've been looking at surrealist art. In my writing class, our teacher had us write a piece using surrealism in language and writing. I'm sure I could explore the literary style of realism more in depth and make it my own. My focus has been making my writing my own.
Calling - Fiction writing and literary arts can be a calling. I see a higher purpose for it. I'm like a Psalmist. I write when I get time. I continually express myself or dialogue with God. The artistic medium is the recorded dialogue. Sometimes, the Lord wants to hear the raw, honest, sincere self. My writing is devotion to God. The rest is up to Him. So what if I don't make the bestseller list? or don't get fame or get to make a living out of this while I'm living? I decided that if I write a novel for publishing, it will be published under a 'pen name' instead of my real name. Why? That's so that it'll separate my personal life from my writing life. It's to take the focus off me and into the work of art and the message rather than messenger. I have some ideas for 2 novels. I have the characters and plot but I'm putting them aside for now.
My own voice - My favorite class this term was creative writing. It's where you write, share and critique each others. I had a breakthrough in this class. I wanted to find my 'voice'. I'm excited to find my unique writing voice and style. This includes my preferred literary style, techniques, my style of characterization and elements that make my writing unique from another writers. I hope that my writing voice becomes more mature, well-developed and stronger. That takes practice and time.
Inspirations - Scriptures, experiences, hiking, prayer, going out to people watch, and looking at visual art are my inspirations. I've looked at a local Christian surrealist artist. He's talented and his art is inspiring.
Portraying hard topics - Why should 'Christian' writing always mean portraying perfect, unrealistic characters. That's pretentious. I'm a realist so I'm not shy to address hard topics like adultery, domestic violence, marriage issues, drug addictions, personal struggles of people and sexuality (all with a purpose). However, I'll be tasteful. There's no need to describe a sex scene with unnecessary details (that's pornography NOT literature). Somethings cannot be sugar-coated. I have to pray about how it should be portrayed. There is a major difference between portraying sin and then glorifying sin. I write but with discretion, while monitoring my intention behind them. It's ridiculous to add something edgy just for the sake of being edgy. If anyone wants to be edgy, there are many bars in town. A person can go get drunk to be edgy.
I'll continually ask myself, "What does it mean to glorify God through the arts?" and "what is the purpose?" of a Christian artist. To glorify and having purpose is not one narrowly defined confine. Glorifying God can happen through my pains, brokeness and flawed character as well as times when I'm strong and victorious. Purpose does not mean fame or prestige. I could be the woman at the well. Her name is unknown but she encountered Jesus at a time of brokenness and told others about Him without earning a title, position, M Div or whatever. I'd rather receive praise from my Father in heaven than from praises from people on earth.