This is a branch off a discussion topic in the New Writers group. I consider spiritual writing non-fiction. When writing a non-fiction book or proposal, normally "expertise" of the author wields a huge amount of credibility to the information. What is considered "expertise" when it comes to spiritual writing? What would you want to read in the author's bio that would make you think their work was "legit"?
It depends on the type of writing. ANYONE can write about spiritual matters - it is a personal experience . Some writers can write spiritually using fiction without sacrificing believable story or good writing.
If the writing purports to do interpretation, textual work, or act as an 'expert' in a field they should have the educational training or background (Biblical languages, theology, ministry, etc.) or the experience in the field to say they know something. As a professional book buyer one of the criteria is to see if the person is writing in a field for which they have training, expertise, or other special experience. A medical doctor can write about nuclear energy but does the wrote have credibility? Exceptions are possible but ...
The problem with many examples of spiritual writing - be it New Age, Pagan, or Christian - is the sense of mission to write something of great importance (in the author's mind anyway). This is often to the exclusion of good writing, thesis, or any logic.
In my work with authors, I have them do one project. Low tech but effective. Take one index card and in verbal, clear, dynamic language tell what your book is about and why anyone should read it. This alone can help so much and save many inferior works from being written - spiritual or not.
If the author can do that one simple act - be they writing the wisdom of a spirit guide, the ancient aliens, or advice for living a life for God - the end result is far better.
A lot of excellent points in your advice, Marilyn. Demonstrated credibility regarding the topic is paramount, whether spiritual or not. I like your index card exercise....will suggest this to some of my editing clients.
Great answer Marilyn! Also a very good project test:)
I feel whether the spirituality is delivered in a fictional story or as a non-fiction experience has little to do with the "expertise" of the writer. The writer is simply the conduit of the spiritual message. Expertise can be graded and identified in the physical world but how would we even attempt to establish ones expertise in the spiritual world?
I like this Ronald. The Spiritual Path allows us to connect to our Divine inner voice. It is that authenticity and inner truth that can become our message. It doesn't always translate into the publishing industry as a direct route but that is a different endeavor altogether. It is the same challenge for all writers Spiritual or otherwise.
Hi Deborah- I absolutely agree, the "inner voice" is our soul,and it speaks only with simple truth and purity of message. It will lead us down the Spiritual path if we listen and follow. We all have a soul but not enough people listen and follow their Spiritual voice. Thank you, for most of my life I thought I was the only one who felt this way.
I think mere "existence" is the only qualification for spiritual writing. I define it as anything that hinges on a measure of faith in a Higher Power, which is why how-to books like AA material can be cross-marketed as spiritual.
I tend to agree with you Jeff. Since there is not a pure proven science of the existance of soul, spirit and a Higher Power....Being a PhD or well versed in religion or history does not necessarily "validate" one writing as "more spiritual" than another. The journey to soul or connection with Spirit/ Higher Power is an ongoing journey...Just being on "The Journey" is the expertise.
I agree that one doesn't necessarily need to have a PhD to write spiritually, but there are times, depending on the topic, that being well-educated in the history and background of the topic is a good thing and does add to an author's credibility.
So much of so-called "New Age" writing has an anti-intellectual bias, as if the "universe" (one of their favourite expressions) doesn't like people to actually use their minds...which is why a lot of "new age" spiritual writing is overly simplistic and frequently downright dumb.
But hey, that's me. As a person who works in academia, I tend to want to engage more with people who are educated or who at least take the trouble to try to research the topic they're writing about. Being educated doesn't nullify spirituality....indeed many of the great mystics of history were highly educated literate people. I am NOT saying that people without formal education cannot write good books....there are many authors who write beautifully who did not receive a university degree...but what they did have was the gift of words, a thirst for learning on their own, and a mind that synthesizes information.
But overall, I feel that the "spiritual marketplace" wants to downplay education....that's part of their marketing strategy to lure unsuspecting consumers to accept what they say without applying any critical thinking, Just because a person is being "spiritual" doesn't mean he/she should check his/her brains at the door.
what sort of educational backround would you think qualifies a person to speak in the spiritual arena. I believe having a Phd. in physics or engineering doesn't deliver any advantage or insight to ones spiritual beliefs. I wouldn't say "New Age" is anti-intellectual, however, over the years I've always found science at odds with religions and spirituality. A spiritual person believes in God and his creation of our earthly existance where as a scientist believes in carbon atoms and evolution. A choice we all make, however, I don't feel anyone should proclaim the other as not educated or intellectual enough.
There shouldn't have to be a "choice" between science and religion.
"Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."--Albert Einstein
I love this quote Sharon.