Recently I was thinking to myself: “Self?” I asked. “What does it mean to be an author?”
To which I replied, “He needs to have written a book.” Okay, I don’t really talk to myself like that. You can put down the phone now. My sanity is assured.
I have written and published six books so far, so I guess that qualifies me. But I could never write another book and forever be an author. Harper Lee wrote one book (okay, now it’s two if you want to get technical) and has been forever labeled an author. But that’s not enough for me. I want to be a writer too. A writer writes. They may never publish, but they write. If I ever stop writing I will cease to be a writer and will only ever be an author. That’s like saying I played basketball in high school (which I did.)
No. Ideally I want to keep writing and publishing. It is not only being an author that is a kick for me, but the actual nitty-gritty of writing down stories, revising them ad-nauseum and publishing them. The whole process is so much fun. I may never get the fame of others, but two things are true. I will enjoy myself immensely and I will get better and better at the craft. And there is some hope in that, isn’t there?
I suppose first I should define what I think of as Christian literature. It is where the Christian theme is so central to the story that if you removed it you would no longer have a story. With this definition in mind, I realized I don’t write Christian literature.
I write stories that have Christian elements. In my first trilogy for kids, The Gifted Series, I have a character who does not hesitate to talk about his Christian conversion experience. This gives the story a strong Christian flavor, but it does not make the whole story Christian. In fact a person could skip that part and still enjoy the story (though I hope they don’t.)
I suppose it depends on who my audience is. I hope to try for different audiences. Some are already Christians and some know Christians but don’t really understand what the big deal is about Jesus. I hope some of my stories will show them that. I also hope those who have rejected the idea of an all powerful God will read some of my stories and begin to question their assumptions and start the journey of faith.
But can a Christian write a good story? I think the real question being asked here is can something that has Christian elements in it be a good story. Certainly. There are many who have grown up reading C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and they were not even believers but they loved the story. So much so that a successful series of movies has been made from the books.
Then there are people like J.R.R Tolkien. He was a believer in Jesus, but did not want to make his books religious. But his battle scenes are the greatest description of spiritual warfare I have ever read, even from blatantly Christian authors. Well, I could go on with this for a long time, but you get the idea.
My desire is to write stories and write them well. But in all that I do not want to give up expressing my belief in a personal savior. Sometimes I do that with characters that spell out such a belief and other times with a character who just begins to find cracks in his beliefs in a godless world.