Friday, April 13, 2012

Life and Writing Lessons from the Titanic by Cathy Gohlike

The Titanic and the stories associated with the ship have fascinated people since its sinking. But have you ever applied what happened on that disastrous night to your own life? Enjoy this thought-provoking article by author Cathy Gohlike. Be challenged and encouraged.
~ Dawn

Life and Writing Lessons from the Titanic
by Cathy Gohlike

In two days the world will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic. In the months leading to this we’ve been mesmerized by the re-release of James Cameron’s film “Titanic,” now in 3-D version. We’ve watched documentaries and dramas (old and new), witnessed the opening of countless musicals and the release of a number of books (fiction and nonfiction) highlighting every possible connection to the ship and her famous, and sometimes infamous, passengers and crew. And, still, we crave more. What is it about Titanic that haunts us so, and what can we, particularly as writers, take away from the tragedy?

Surely we’re fascinated with the Edwardian era—so unlike our own. We wonder why Titanic sank and if that foundering could have been avoided, if the passengers and crew aboard her could have been saved. We still debate why so many from first and so few from third class were given seats in lifeboats, and what those frightening last minutes were like for each of them.

But I wonder, might it be that we ask what we would have done that fateful night? Would we have sacrificially stepped aside and offered another our seat in the lifeboat? Would we have gladly, thankfully taken a seat offered us, or would we have ostentatiously stepped aside only to sneak into an overcrowded lifeboat at the last possible moment, forever lamenting our cowardice?

I think that question haunts us most. Few of us will ever be called upon to make such a decision, such a choice, in such a moment.

And yet, each day, we are offered the choice of how we will use our time, energy, finances and gifts. As Christians we know we’ve been called to be salt and light in the world. As writers we know we’ve been gifted with the power of story, the ability to paint in words a portrait of fierce struggle with conflict to the point of climax, and finally offer a resolution that makes better sense of the world through the telling of our tale.

We can use our gifts to tell any kind of story, relate any kind of tale for any purpose. But, if we use our gifts of writing to point to and glorify the Creator who gave them and to be salt and light to a dying world, it changes everything we think, everything we purpose, and everything we write.

Writing is our opportunity to provide a lifeline to others, a lifeboat in the midst of a dark sea. Not that we save others through our words—but we are privileged to be a vehicle to help transport, and a shining light to make the journey clearer for readers on their way to the One Who saves. For those who already walk beside Him, we can provide the encouragement and comfort of like-minded companions—the reminder that neither they, nor we, walk alone.

As writers, what greater calling could we have? For writers, what greater lesson could there be?

Cathy Gohlke is the two-time Christy Award-winning author of William Henry is a Fine Name and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires. Her second novel also won the Carol Award and was chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Books of 2008. Promise Me This is available now and Band of Sisters will release September 2012 from Tyndale House Publishers. Cathy, her husband, and dog, Reilly, live on the banks of the Laurel Run in Elkton, Maryland.

To find out more about Cathy and her books, please visit:


  1. What powerful imagery you've used here. It struck me to my core.

    I think the Titanic is such a popular theme, not only because of it's setting and the juxtaposition of the squalor of third class against the luxury of first class, but also because it is a metaphor for our lives, as you said. Arrogant man (who in his prime cannot be sunk) verses God and life (in the form of an iceberg).

    When you compared the resulting action -- or inaction -- of the passengers to us, as Christian writers, it touched a nerve. Does my writing glorify God? Does it show the way to hope and seek to rescue a dying world?

    Wow. You got me. Thanks so much for writing this, Cathy!

  2. God's blessings on your writing, Angela! You've captured the vision!

  3. This was a very thought provoking post. Thanks, Cathy, for challenging us to write stories that have an impact on our world. I loved Promise Me This and believe it is that kind of book - powerful and having a great impact for the Lord.


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