I took a break a few days ago to watch Paul Elie (author of The Life You Save May Be Your Own and Reinventing Bach) interview James Martin about his new book, Learning To Pray, and writing as a spiritual practice. (Read more my thoughts on prayer.) Video of the discussion is on YouTube.
Out of all the interesting subjects they discussed, I think I was most taken by Father Martin’s explanation of how his vow of poverty affects his writing. Martin is “editor at large” at America Magazine, and as he explained it, he basically has the freedom to write about whatever he wants. The same goes for his books: All of his royalties go to the magazine, so he’s mostly unconcerned about sales. He also said his purpose in writing, always, is not to achieve literary greatness, but to “help souls.” So his mission and his vow of poverty takes away most of the common pressures of publishing. Writing, for him, is never a struggle.
See previously: Learning to Pray with James Martin and Mary Karr