Posted by: Phil Anderson | August 4, 2013

Sustaining Creation

I’ve heard it said that if God stopped thinking about us we would cease to exist. I’ve also heard the opposite: that God is an impartial observer who created the universe and set it in motion. It continues on, according to his established physical laws, but he rarely intervenes. I tend toward the former way of thinking, since the Bible says God is sovereign over his creation and Jesus Christ sustains all things. But both philosophies are interesting to think about, especially in light of my own creations.

As I wrote in previous posts, I think that being a fiction writer is like being God. I create worlds and the people in them, and I control what happens there. But once I’ve created them, do the characters and worlds continue to exist outside of my consciousness? Or if I stop thinking about them, do they disappear? In this case, I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Writing a novel (or even a short story) takes a long time, and I’m not constantly conscious of my creations. I work on it for a while, take a break to sleep or do other things, and come back to it later. The characters still exist, even when I’m not thinking about them, but they’re frozen in time waiting for me to come back and decide what happens next. They’re not aware that hours or days have passed in the middle of a dialog or between paragraphs. Does my life ever pause for God to deal with other issues, and then resume when he turns his attention back to me?

On occasion I find papers with notes or ideas on them, sometimes a short story or part of one, characters and places that I’ve completely forgotten about. Since they’re written down they still exist, even though nothing is happening with them, and they can be resurrected and put into action if I so choose. At the same time, there are plenty of thoughts and plans that I’ve created but never put onto paper (or into a computer). If I forget about them, those people and events are lost and gone forever, as if they never existed at all.

Some creators have a completely different experience. Their worlds and characters have been published or made into movies, and have entered the public consciousness so that they no longer belong solely to the one who created them. For example, the Star Wars universe is the brainchild of George Lucas, but it has expanded beyond his films into hundreds of novels, comic books, video games, other official media, and even unofficial fan-fiction. Lucasfilm has been sold to the Walt Disney Company which is now developing new movies without George’s direct involvement. He no longer has sovereign control over his creations. His characters continue to exist, and even act and grow, outside of his consciousness. Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo now serve an entire pantheon of writers, directors, producers, and developers.

My attempts at writing and creating continue to inspire awe in my God and in the way he maintains and sustains the universe he created.

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