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Monday, July 27, 2009

Writing From an Honest Place

I once took a poem I wrote and converted it to a short story. The story ended up being stunning and rhythmic. And because my poems tend to be more personal and written in darker moments of my life than my stories, it was the most honest and uncompromising story I have ever written. I loved the result.

I wrote this to a friend on the Christian Writer's Guild forum tonight and realized I gave myself some insight in the process. Lately, I've been burdened in my writing. I feel like I'm trying to squeeze myself into a style of Christian writing that isn't quite fitting. It's not from external pressure but from my own internal uncertainties.

What I'm finding when I write is that I am somewhat removed from my stories. There is a density there that I can't seem to poke holes in. I am making my own personal compromise in an effort to appeal to a Christian audience.

And yet, I am a Christian writer. I wouldn't even be in this writing place if God hadn't led me here and told me to write for Him.

Maybe my ideas of what a Christian audience wants are inaccurate. There are times when I write that I come to a split in the road. One way leads me on the straight and narrow, and the other explores something a bit more crooked and broad - maybe even dark at times. I almost always choose the straight and narrow because that's what Christians want to read... right? When I do this -- choose the path I'm less inclined to choose -- I sacrifice the passion, the honesty, the connection of my story.

The funny thing is, every time I take that straight and narrow path, something tells me I'm on the wrong road, but I persist because it's safe.

I have considered that maybe God didn't send me to this place to write to a Christian audience. I can be a Christian writer and appeal to a secular audience. What an incredible honor it would be to be sent to the writing field to speak to God's lost children. How does a Christian writer balance such a call? In this day, how do you meet unbelievers where they are and not compromise your Christian values and commandments?

Is it possible to appeal to both? Is a story that is not blatantly Christian throughout, but that you know is nothing but Christian in the end, going to hold the attention of a Christian reader until they realize its message? Is a story that isn't filled with graphic sex, morbid violence, or a multitude of obscenities going to hold the attention of an unbeliever long enough for them to be gripped by the possibility of Christianity?

I love thinking things out in a blog because as I read through what I've just written, something occurred to me. It doesn't matter which path I follow as long as it's the path that God is on. If I look ahead and He's not in front of me, I have to change paths. If I stay on the wrong path, then it's not actually His message I'm delivering.

Father, may I always write from a truthful, passionate, and connected place, and above all else, may I carry only Your message as I go. - Amen


  1. sweetthang said...

    I love this and it is something I have struggled with as well. Yes, there are those who only want to read literature that fits a certain description, but there are many others out there who are looking for somebody wot be real with them. I think your honesty could provide that fresh approach. And you're right....just being on God's path is really all that matters.

    I don't have the workbook in front of me right now, but Jerry does address writing for a Christian audience near the back of the book (I read ahead, lol). Also, his son Dallas had some interesting thoughts about Christian movies as a genre. I think those thought could apply to writing as well.

    I love it that you're sharing your thoughts and "wonderings"!

  2. Melissa said...

    Interesting post...sometimes when I read some of our books in the library I think, "Hhm, not much mention of God and Jesus in there...." But then when I talk with other people who have read the books, they remind me that it's ok if the *words* or *concept* of God and Jesus aren't in there, sometimes books can be "Christian" because they get people thinking on their own about it and how they might have handled a situation. I guess that shows how shallow I am, but my point is to stick to God and follow *HIS* plan for your writing and He will be glorified in it!


  3. Stephanie Faris said...

    For me, it took a while for me to figure out where my writing fit best. I still struggle with it. I thought it was romance but I'm not sure I quite fit there. I seem to do pretty well with young adult and, most importantly, that is where I ENJOY writing the most, but I'm told my writing isn't as angst-filled and depressing as most teens want to read. I'm more like Meg Cabot...and apparently teens want the hard-hitting issues like pregnancy, abortion, drinking, etc. They say this is because teens are more "sophisticated" now but I just feel that there's a better way to reach them.

  4. Shauna Renee' said...

    Let's just say that I am very impressed with your blog and the work you've posted. Maybe I'm easily impressed, but I don't think so. You are definitely a Looooong ways ahead of me in your writing, regardless of what lesson you are on in the Apprentice course. Keep writing and keep believing!

  5. Anonymous said...

    I appreciate your honesty. Many of the same thoughts have crossed my mind as I find my place as a Christian writer. Do I want to encourage and appeal a Christian audience or do I want to interest and challenge curious seekers to faithfully enter the realm of Christiandom? I don't know. I just keep writing as the Spirit leads; I think that's all we can do.