When I was a kid, I loved reading fantasy, but my mom (who screened all of my books until I was in my mid-teens) never found enough books to satisfy my craving. So when I started writing, I decided I wanted to write fantasy for Christian teens.
Fast forward about ten years, and now I’m not so set in that conviction any more.
It started about a year ago, when I started trying not to be so “preachy” in my writing. Yeah, heard this before, you might say, but I was very preachy, and I didn’t do it well. Since then, I’ve come to believe that I should be writing for both the Christian and secular markets—”crossover”, as my friend Chila Woychik has put it.
Crossover simply means writing fiction that both Christians and non-Christians will pick up. I’m thinking of stuff like the classics of fantasy, The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia (though I have no pretensions that I’ll ever become as good as Tolkien or Lewis.)
But how to do that? How to write in my faith in a way that Christians will pick up on it and non-Christians won’t be offended by it? I’d like to think that all non-Christians aren’t as mean as the ones who leave one-star reviews on books simply because they had “Christian elements”. I mean, really, people—do your research. Look at the book thoroughly—don’t pick it up just because it was free—and don’t give it a one-star review just because it has some religious elements that offended you. Do you have any idea how many secular novels I read that had something in them that offended me (The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, for one) yet I loved the characters and writing style, so didn’t bash it?
Ahem. I’ll step off my soapbox now. ;)
Back to what I was saying. Why am I even worrying about this? Why bother writing for a secular audience when there is (finally) a Christian audience for speculative fiction? This decision had just brought on more questions, so wouldn’t it have been better to just continue what I’d been doing?
A couple of sermons from my pastor have changed my mind. The one a few weeks ago, “Whatever It Takes to Reach Other for Christ”, especially touched my heart. I have such joy in my Creator—how can I sit back and selfishly hold Him to myself? The problem is that so many in this world are opposed to Christianity because of the way they’ve seen Christians act.
My pastor said that there is one way to get past that distrust, and that is to show that you’re trustworthy. That’s when it hit me.
I am in a unique position. This society values entertainment highly. If you’re a storyteller who knows how to tell a good story, people will trust you. Their walls will drop a little, enough for your words and images to sink into their minds. If I study hard and become a good storyteller, I can witness for Christ in two ways.
1) People will see how I’ve worked hard. They’ll see that I take pride in my work and that I’m dedicated, and (hopefully) will wonder where I get the strength to do so.
2) If I skillfully and unashamedly weave my worldview into my stories, the people who need to see it will see it.
The questions still remain on how to accomplish those two things. I believe with belief, perseverance, and dedication, I’ll be led to the answers. And, through it all, I have to remember that I’m only planting the seed—God will see whether it grows or not.
How do I know that this is what God wants me to do? I don’t for absolute certain. But I have a feeling in my gut—the same feeling that I got when I became an author, the same feeling when Justin asked me to become his wife—that this is right. If it’s not, I trust God to show me.
Until then, I will continue to do what I think He’s leading me to do, and trust Him to take care of me along the way.