Lott Advocates for Story Over Genre

The author of Oprah Book Club selection, Jewel, Bret Lott visited Belmont on Wednesday for a Christian Faith Development convocation sponsored by the School of Religion, the English department and the Office of Spiritual Development.

Bret LottAfter noting “I only understand what I mean if I write it out,” Lott read to the audience his thoughts on the roles of story, genres and faith in a person’s life. “Why do people buy the same novel again and again and again” he asked, noting his belief that in those tales readers find a glimpse of the light and meaning they seek. Alluding to C.S. Lewis, he continued, “Those books have delivered a story that has brought them to the brink of their own far-off country.”

But Lott argued that genre is not the same as story; rather, genre is but a shadow of the real story everyone seeks, a story that is found in the person of Christ. “I ask you not ‘what is your story’ but who is your story?”

Later, in a lunch with faculty and staff, Lott shared more of his own journey as a writer and recalled an influential writing professor who once said to him, “I see no reason why you shouldn’t be here, but I see no reason why you should.”

Devastated, Lott nearly left his studies to pursue another path, but his wife convinced him to stay. His persistence paid off. Lott is now a New York Times bestselling author of 13 books and has served as editor of The Southern Review, Fulbright Writer-in-Residence at Bar-Illan University in Israel, and as professor and writer-in-residence at the College of Charleston.

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