Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Back on track. Uh, is this the train to...?

Or...A Christian Writing in a Secular World, Pt. II

"'Giving up on a goal because of a setback is like slashing your other 3 tires because you got a flat."

I saw this quote posted on a friend's Facebook page today, and it turned my focus back to my writing. Just because I haven't posted in a while or even picked up my WIP, doesn't mean it's far from my mind. I haven't given up on it. Life got busy. No. That's not the real reason. I was torn about which direction to take my story--and I'm still torn.

You'd think by now I would have it figured out, right? 'Bout time to knock the dust off that WIP?
If my manuscript was a hard copy, well, the dust would be thicker than the pages by now!

I started out writing a secular fiction story, but at some point,  I wondered if I should be writing it as an inspirational or Christian-based novel. At the beginning, I had a fairly clear picture of where I wanted the story to go...but as I grew, and I wrote, and I pondered, my story's direction became blurred.

If you have looked around at either of my blogs, you can find evidence that I am a Christian. Even so, my blogs didn't--and still don't--have a Christian focus, nor was the story in my head aiming for that genre. I knew the ending from the start. It is not, "so she fell to her knees and asked forgiveness..." or  "...allowed God to soften her heart." Nope. Not even close.

As a Christian, I struggled with the question, 'Should I be writing this story without a thread of Christian basis?' I even discussed it HERE when it first rolled into my mind. (And yes, it's been that long ago.) Bottom line: I would never write anything that I would be ashamed to admit to in church. I am not a fence-straddler. (I am an imperfect stumbler.)

Well, the struggle over the language was quickly resolved. I am not writing a children's book. It is a story about real life adult situations. I consider it quite 'clean', as far as not being full of foul language and sex, but there will be times when the low-life characters will act like low-life characters. And I'm okay with that.
Part of the difficulty is that my character is real. Not in the sense that it is biographical--but rather I know her. I created her based on experiences and people that have shaped my own life story. Some parts are bits of actual events in my life and the life of a long-time friend. Those bits are not pretty. They are pieces of real life, chewed up and spit onto a page. Not pretty at all. Nor the typical basis for a Christian novel.

I think having a base of reality helps create a framework for my character. I can feel her strengths and weaknesses. I know how she thinks and reacts. Even when she says one thing, I know what is really in her head and heart. That knowledge reveals to me where she is going, and how it will all end. And that was not on the bookstore's inspirational shelf.

So my WIP sat on the proverbial shelf. It should have had a title page written in 'finger' that said, "DUST ME!"  Every time I thought about it, I immediately was weighed down with the same question: 'Is this glorifying God?' Fortunately, I had two great answers from which to choose: yes, and no.

Many will say, "If God gave you a talent to write, you are glorifying Him by using that talent." Yes! Isn't that the truth! Oh...but what if my talent's say--exotic dancing? Or maybe computer hacking? Okay, I know that is a giant leap, but can I just say, 'God gave me...' and justify anything I do? Of course, not. Still, I don't feel that it is necessarily not glorifying God by writing a secular novel. Well. Now we're getting somewhere. Again--not.

My secret: I didn't read Christian novels! You know from this blog that I'm a big fan of Jody Hedlund, an inspirational writer of historical romance. (I didn't read romance either.) Well, that just kinda happened. For years, I went without reading anything from the Christianity shelf except for my Bible, devotionals, articles, Bible study books, etc. Never fiction. Want to know why? They were boring. Sorry. They were.

Good news: They aren't anymore! I don't know when it changed--how could I if I didn't read them? Whenever it was that I first read titles from that genre, they were as predictable as a Harlequin romance. (I don't read those either. Sorry if you're a fan of those--just not my cup of tea.) They are still somewhat predictable--after all, how can you write a Christian story without the traditional 'and God made everything come out alright' ending? But today's popular Christian authors are top notch. Their stories have meat...depth...character development...everything that makes a best-seller. And you know what else?

Christian authors are stepping outside the churchy box. Yep. They're adventuring into new territory--writing about topics that never used to appear in this genre. Why not? Don't we, as Christians, have to live in the world outside our choir lofts and steeples? Don't we experience the same worldly situations as everyone else? So that brings me back to my book. My story deals with things way outside the church doors, and that's okay. The subject matter in my manuscript does not preclude it's placement in the inspirational genre. As a matter of fact, it almost mandates the inclusion of my Christian experience, as it reads like a testimony of  'Where I was before I met Jesus.'

So am I writing an inspiration novel? I don't know yet. And here you thought it was settled! I am going to pick up my book--(okay, not literally, as it's here on this laptop)--knock off the dust, and dig in. I need to get well acquainted with it again. And then, as I do another read-through of the fifty-thousand-plus words, I will let God's spirit dictate where it goes. And, if He takes me into the world of inspirational writers, so be it. I am fearless!

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! 
Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the 
Lord your God is with you wherever you go." 
Joshua 1:9 NASB


TC said...
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TC said...

GOOD FOR YOU!!!! Glad the post made a difference!! Now maybe I can go back to writing for money, I'm chicken because I haven't screwed up yet and I'm pretty sure people shouldn't pay me to write....LOL

Terri Tiffany said...

Why didn't I read this before? And why haven't I heard an update? Write and write and see where it goes. I've gone back and forth on genre too. You'll know.

Lillian Robinson said...

Yes, Terri, you're two books are so different from each other. So many well-known authors try it, and fans protest. I will probably never write two similar books. My ideas are so varied. And that's okay with me. I've just got to move along...