Although Leo Tolstoy is one of my favorite authors, I am especially fond of the stories he wrote after his conversion to Christianity. Tolstoy had an intuitive gift for delving into the human psyche and unfolding characters' unconscious motives. His stories probe the mind of man, dissect his heart, and extract the good and the bad that reside therein. One of his greatest works, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, describes a man of power and wealth, who knows that he is dying. Tolstoy skillfully portrays the inner-dialogue and turmoil in the mind and soul of this affluent man, as he comes to realize that his life was a waste. While Ivan is suffering, he sees that all the things he strived for, the things he previously thought important, were really trivial and meaningless in the end. The Truth that he discovered, when viewed through the lens and light of eternity, was completely opposite of everything he had previously thought significant and meaningful.
Even though Count Leo Tolstoy is considered one of the greatest novelists of all time, and War and Peace is considered the greatest novel ever written, he gave away his land and publicly renounced the copyrights of all he had written after 1881 (the time of his spiritual conversion), and refused all royalties from his previous works in order to live a life more fully like Christ.
Tolstoy also believed that, “If a considerable minority followed Jesus’ commandment of non-resistance, never resisting evil with evil, never using violence, they would have a corrective effect on society. If there was only a small minority, they might have to put up with some contempt; yet all the time the world would be growing wiser and better from their quiet influence. Even those who died for their beliefs would leave their teaching behind.” Tolstoy’s influence, as he lived out Jesus’ teachings on the Sermon on the Mount, had a far-reaching effect, as he became a non-violent, peace-loving example to Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. many years later.
Tolstoy had also said, “A writer is dear and necessary for us only in the measure of which he reveals to us the inner workings of his very soul.” Writing is a powerful tool. We see what a difference it made after Gutenberg’s printing press put words and ideas and messages into the hands of the common people. It sparked the Reformation. This is how I hope to write someday. Not that I'll start a reformation, but this is how I hope to share God's message of love and grace. I strive to write, not just to entertain, but also to teach and inspire and enlighten.
So, while contemplating my intentions, I asked myself, what is the primary purpose of my writing and promotion? Am I in it for the money or the message? And this is how the answer came to me: Would I rather sell 10 books to 10 people for $100,000 (if it were possible) or would I rather make $10 and reach 100,000 people? Not that either way is realistic or probable, but that was my mindset concerning the matter. And I choose the latter. I would rather reach more people with the life-changing message of the Gospel and make less money, than make more money and only reach a few people. So after coming to this realization, I have lowered the prices on all of my books.
“A writer is dear and necessary for us only in the measure of which he reveals to us the inner workings of his very soul.” Mark 8:36