It has been an interesting couple of weeks.
I have a lot going on right now, and in the back of my mind is always some thought about my so-called career as a writer. Am I doing enough? What next? Should I be working on this or this?
When I have stuff out on submission, as I do at the moment, I tend to play a lot of mind games. It’s a little tedious, but old habits die hard. I’ve been asking myself the big old ‘What If…’ questions. What if I wrote this for a certain publisher – if it got picked up, I could get a start on getting my ‘name’ out there as a legitimate author. A good thought. And not the first time I’ve considered it. But you see, the problem comes with the kinds of stories I would have to write if I were to submit something to this house. They’re good books, don’t get me wrong, but…the style is just…not me. Could I write that way? Sure. But I think what I really had to ask myself is, “Why would I want to?” Just for the sake of getting another book published? Maybe getting a little more recognition than I have now? Selling a few more books and maybe making a little bit more money than I have in the past?
Really? Is that why I’m doing this?
Incase you’re wondering, the answer is no.
From the time I started writing, I knew I wanted to convey a particular message. I knew that my style of writing would get down and dirty and probably not be considered wholesome enough for a vast majority of church goers. This was confirmed when Yesterday’s Tomorrow came out, and I was questioned, quite seriously, about the fact that my characters did and said things that this particular reader did not approve of or think should appear in a ‘Christian’ novel. And she had a point. My characters were lost. They were in the middle of a war zone for one thing…and yes, they did and said things that might make some little old lady’s hair curl. Before anyone freaks out and wonders what exactly is in that book, it’s quite acceptable I assure you. Obviously not acceptable for everyone, but that’s okay with me. I could not write that story any other way. And, yes, I prayed about it. I knew without a doubt, when that book was accepted for publication, that I had not sold out.I hadn’t prettied it up and made it into something it wasn’t. It was good the way it was. Thankfully, more than a few people agreed with me, but even if they hadn’t, I knew I’d written it the way I was supposed to.
So here’s my question:
Can we sanitize sin?
Can we take our ugly, brush off the dirt, wrap it in shiny paper, stick a pretty bow on it and call it beautiful? I don’t believe we can. We can leave it the way it is, step around it, ignore it, let someone else deal with it, but it’s still going to be there an hour later. Or the next day. And the next. At some point, we have to deal with it ourselves.
The real world is not pretty. People make poor choices. Devastating choices. Turn on the television for five minutes and get a load of the crap that we’re being fed on a daily basis. Is there no hope for a world that desperately needs it? I think there is. But I don’t think we can ignore what’s happening around us. I don’t think we can ignore the disintegration of the family. The anger in a teenager’s eyes. The lack of self-worth and self-respect found in our young women, and young men too. Alcohol abuse, drug abuse, gambling…you name it, it’s out there in some way shape or form in at least one of your neighbors homes. Maybe even in yours. I don’t think we can ignore these things. I don’t think we should. I think we should talk about them, write about them, pray about them.
But don’t ignore them.
Yes, I understand that we all love a happy, sweet story. I’ve read them and enjoyed them. I love my HEA (Happily Ever After) just as much as the next person. There’s a market for these books. But it’s not the market for me. I have things to say in my own way. And I might offend some people in the process. But I think it’s important to realize that everyone has a different way of telling a story. You may not like mine. But I won’t pretty it up for you. If you want to talk salvation, let’s talk sin. You can’t have one without the other.
This past Friday, after a wonderful eye-opening conversation with a dear writer-friend, I posted the following on Facebook:
I will not write words I think the world wants to hear. I will write words I know the world NEEDS to hear. I will keep it real and not sanitize it – because the real world is ugly and dirty and desperate and in need of HOPE. Today, I give myself the freedom to express my heart the way God intended me to, and the faith to trust Him for the outcome.
Where that will take me in the publishing world is a big unknown. But if I’m trusting, then I also need to start believing. My stories will be written, and somehow, in some way, shape or form, I will share them.
And maybe you, in turn, will share yours with me.