The Journey begins
There were many times when I first started writing that I doubted that voice inside telling me I wasn’t meant to write secular fiction. I fought it. Hard. I was brought up in the church, Southern Baptist to be specific, and had been saved and baptized at age 13. I was a stay-at-home mom taking a hiatus as an elementary school teacher so that I could raise my boys. I had always wanted to write a book and the urge was too much to resist while staying at home raising kids. Without a plan in my head and only a story in my heart, I started writing. I had no idea the journey I was about to embark on.
The Road to Nowhere
I wanted to write like everyone else in my critique groups, email loops and writing groups. I want to be like Nora Roberts and write hundreds of books that women couldn’t stop buying like new shoes. I tried keeping up with the other writers in my critique groups, but I couldn’t. Soon they were selling and I wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for my friends, but I couldn’t write like them. My words fell flat. Even after making it to the editing stage of a major publishing house, I couldn’t pull it off. I talked to my pastor, my friends, writers, family members, and anyone I could find to listen. My guilt at writing mainstream secular fiction was eating me up. And I couldn’t figure out why. Why was this such an issue for me? Why was is so easy for thousands of other writers? And why on earth did I want to write Christian Fiction? Only Christians read it and they were already saved. Why not write secular books as a Christian author and hope to plant a few seeds along the way? My warped sense of reasoning was clearly my feeble attempt to “be like everyone else“. And besides, Christian Fiction wasn’t that popular and many people had never heard of it. If I’m being honest, I hadn’t read that much of it myself, but what I had read, I loved. I didn’t find it preachy or self-righteous. I found it real. It made me feel good to read it. It spoke to me in ways that other books couldn’t. It fed my spirit and lifted me up. But to write it? I wasn’t good enough for that. I wasn’t a minister or a witness for others. My life was a mess and I was in no position to witness to others–no matter what the format. How could a sinner, going through a divorce, be a witness for others? She couldn’t. So I dropped out of my writing groups, lost touch with critique partners, and went back to work teaching second grade. It was fun while it lasted.
Out of the ashes
A few years after a bitter divorce, I remarried and my life settled down. That urge to write was still there and I had never been able to completely stop. I wrote from my heart without worrying about selling and found that I was much happier writing than not. I felt no pressure to write like someone else and began writing what made me happy. During my hiatus from writing, I also read a lot. My preferred genre has always been suspense and romantic suspense and I realized that my book choices were almost always Christian fiction. I was tired of thumbing through explicit pages of details that I felt lent little to the plot. (or the imagination!) Some of my favorite authors write secular suspense, but I was building a new favorites list of mostly all Christian Fiction authors. For those who think Christian Fiction is written solely for the purpose of preaching, making people feel bad for their choices, forcing them to read a Bible verse, telling them how to live right, and dragging sinners to Salvation, you’re so wrong. It’s for everyone. Christians read it to strengthen their faith and seek a refuge of entertainment away from sinful ideas, words, and images. The characters are not perfect, but they seek to live a life that Christ wants them to live. It’s real life. Written by real people. In 2010, I sold my first novella to Pelican Book Group, a publisher of Christian fiction. In 2016, I sold another. God knew what He wanted me to do better than I did. I’m not perfect. I’m not trying to sell myself as a such. I’m just a sinner like everyone else. Christian Fiction is about real people, struggling in a sinful world while trying to live a life for Christ. It’s about sinners who have never known forgiveness of their sins, and through the witness of others, find Christ. I write it because it’s what God called me to write. Now I need to get back to writing my next book.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6(NIV)
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.