shock by Meredith Farmer

Watch out, I’m opening with a shocker…

I don’t want to write Christian fiction.

Yep, you heard me right. The ambition of my life is not to write a gazillion books about Character #1 who is either unsaved or [falls for/becomes friends with/talks to] someone who is unsaved and how they get saved by Character #2 or lead Character #2 to Christ. That’s not me. That’s not the kind of writing I want to do. (Yeah, those of you who read Christian fiction know exactly what I’m talking about.)

Now hold on, before you get all huffy, let me continue to explain.

I don’t want to write Christian fiction, I want to be a Christian who writes fiction. See the difference? Yes? No? It is a subtle difference, I’ll give you that. Almost a nuance. But, for me, it’s more than just changing around the order of the words.

I have spent the last year reading as much as I could cram into my schedule (which, honestly, was still not enough). I’ve been eating up YA fiction like asphalt eats at my tire treads and I have been doing my best to keep up a regular Bible study. And here’s the thing…this stuff that I’ve been reading? It’s breath-taking. It’s amazing. It’s brought up more questions about myself and caused me to look at more things through my world-view than many of the Christian books I’ve read. Now, I’m not saying that I dislike Christian fiction. It’s what I grew up on and some of my favorite authors write solely Christian fiction.  But I think that in the Christian genre there is a tendency to fall into a rut. A bad habit of focus solely on the message you want to get across (or beat into the reader’s head) and forget you are telling a story. That you’re trying to glorify God with what you’re writing and how you’re writing it. I’ve read a lot of good Christian fiction, but I as I look back, not much of it has been breath-taking fiction. Not much of it has challenged how I think (there are some very, very good exceptions, like Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti come to mind) or look at life or even my faith (that usually comes from my Bible).

I don’t want to write a good book. I want to write a great book. I want to write a book that is going to make people sit up and take notice because it is different, because the characters are different, because I am different. Because in the end I could write a book that preaches the salvation message perfectly. That has every biblical ‘i’ dotted and ‘t’ crossed. But what happens when the reader looks at my life. What happens when they follow my Twitter feed and like my Facebook page and see how I live and think and act? If my life isn’t in line with what I believe, then that book I just wrote is worthless. Because I am a hypocrite. Because I am saying this is what is right (and it is), but you don’t have to live that way. To me it is a more powerful witness is to have them take note of your life and see that there is something there that they don’t have. To read what you write and realize that you are different. And then to go find God for themselves.

I don’t believe that a book has to lay out the salvation message or mention God/Jesus’ name every third page in order to glorify Him. I believe that if we could look at Jesus’ bookshelf (oh, boy, that’s just a wonderful thought right there, Jesus’ bookshelf) we would be surprised by what we see. I think we ‘d find things like Pride and Predjudice and The Princess Bride and the Percy Jackson series on his bookshelf. Because they are a part of this world and sometimes God brings something beautiful and bright and true out of the sludge that gunks up our lives. Sometimes He uses the least likely source to create something pure (That is in no way a comment on those authors faiths, I honestly have no idea what they believe).

Does this impact how I write? Drastically.

You see I believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. And that He came and took our sins upon Himself so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. You can disagree with me if you like. And I’ll withhold the right to disagree with you. It won’t keep me from reading what you write. But it will most definitely influence what and how I write (and what I read/recommend).

You see my characters may not spout Bible verses like a Junior Bible Quizzer and they may not be actively involved in leading others to Christ. In fact, in my current WIP, they are a little busy fighting for their lives. Not many opportunities for them to talk to others about Jesus. But just as my faith influences my life and how I live and act and speak, my characters’ faith is going to influence their lives. What they do, how they handle relationships (both romantic and platonic), whether or not they fight the urge to cuss–that is how my faith is reflected through theirs. And yes, they will probably (okay, they will definitely) drop the name of Jesus in casual conversation. They may (will) debate or discuss their faith.

And that is going to glorify God.

Because to me, it’s far more important that I have my act together (or that I trust God to help me keep my act together). It’s more important that when my readers are browsing Barnes and Noble and they pick up my book and they look deeper into my life, that they see something different. Will I write a book that deals with the salvation message? Heck yes. In fact, I already have a series shelved that covers just that, I’m just waiting for my writing skill to catch up with my vision for that book (I’ve already written about six drafts of it…or was it seven?). And I won’t be offended if you decide not to read it. I mean, it’ll still be as awesome as my other books will be, and you may be missing out…but just as it is my prerogative to skip chapter or even put a book down if it conflicts with what I want to put in my mind, it is your right to skip over my book because you don’t want that in your mind.

Because in the end, I believe that how we live our lives and how we act out our faith through our lives is a greater and more powerful witness. And if the sum of my life ends up being what I have written (which I would be just fine with) I want to be able to stand next to Jesus at his bookshelf and have him point to the ones I have written and say “Well done.”

That is enough for me.