The Greatest of These is Love

 Most of us are familiar with St Paul's famous passage on love. But what does it mean for writers to love and encourage one another? How do we ensure that each of us looks not only to our own writing interests, but also to the interests of other writers (as Paul might have put if he'd been writing to his local writers' group)? Well, maybe it would look something like this:

If I write for the local press or the Sunday papers, but do not have love, I am only a glaring typo or a badly-placed apostrophe. If I am able to predict the next big trend in popular literature, and can juggle intricate plots and story-arcs, and if I have a self-belief that can win over the most cautious editor, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give review copies to all and sundry, and tell everyone that I write for fourteen hours a day, fortified only by coffee and toast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient when the words dry up, love is kind to others who are just starting out on their writing journey. It is not envious of another’s publishing contract, it does not self-promote at the expense of others, it is willing to accept constructive criticism. It does not write unfair reviews, it seeks the good of the wider writing community, it is not quick to criticise, it keeps no list of another writer’s typos and grammatical errors. Love does not delight in malicious words but rejoices when the truth shines through a piece of prose. It always saves a copy, always remembers its calling, always dares to believe that its words will one day speak to someone else, always strives to complete the manuscript.

Love never fails. But where there are publishing trends, they will fade into obscurity; where there are bestsellers, they will one day be remaindered; where there fresh insights and topical illustrations, they will pass away. For we plan in part and we scribble in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I wrote like a child, I planned like a child, I edited like a child. When I became an adult, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a vague outline scrawled on a paper napkin; then we shall see the full story in mesmerising detail. Now I write in part; then I shall write in full, even as my heart is fully read by the greatest Author of them all.

And now these three remain: reading, writing and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Fiona Lloyd is Chair of the Association of Christian Writers and writes regularly for Together magazine. Her first novel, The Diary of a (trying to be holy) Mum, was published by Instant Apostle in January 2018. Fiona also works for Christians Against Poverty.

Twitter: @FionaJLloyd & @FionaLloyd16

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