One reason I've found the thought of writing stories so overwhelming lately is because I've approached it as if in order to write a story or a book or a novel that encourages and speaks to people, I need to understand completely whatever it is I want to write about. I feel like I need to "have all the answers" for whatever the subject is. There aren't many things right now that I can say that I understand, or that I can explain to other people. But I still have that DESIRE to help others who struggle with things that I struggle with. I don't have the courage as of yet to share ALL my struggles, hopefully that will change someday, but I have to start somewhere.
I read something though on Francine Rivers' website a month or so ago that changed that perspective for me. She said that every book she writes begins as a QUESTION she is asking God. I've been thinking a lot about that. It suddenly seems strange to me that I wanted to write stories for reasons that would never occur to me to be acceptable reasons to talk to people. Do I want to help other people, if God leads me to someone that He has equipped me to help? Of course. But I don't view other Christians solely as people that I need to help. That would be very condescending of me. I view other Christians as people that I want to fellowship with, people that I want to grow closer to God with. If through that I end up helping someone who is struggling, wonderful. But the fellowship, the sharing of a common love, a common purpose, is the goal. The focus is the living and the acting out in truth the Life of the Body that God has called us to, that He has made us for.
Obviously, writing won't be exactly the same as fellowship, as it is usually a solitary exercise, versus a corporate one. But why was my purpose focused on what I could do for others? If that's my focus, I'm going to do more harm than good when I try. If I want to be an encouraging member of God's Body through my writing, He needs to be my focus. I want my writing to be another exercise, another way of my getting to know Him better. Yes, my blog writing is already something that I view that way, but why not my stories? I don't need to have any answers, I don't need to be an expert on a spiritual issue in order to write about it. I just need to begin with a question, a desire to understand something that I don't understand, a yearning to be lead by God to His truth. If that is what drives my writing, and not me trying to have all the answers - which is ultimately just a symptom of me trying to please others - then I will take so much unneeded and harmful pressure off my shoulders, grow closer to God, and maybe even encourage others in the process.
So, Christian Romance. It's on my heart, on my conscience. I believe I can do it. I believe at the very least I can write stuff better than most of what I've seen out there lately. (Of course with the exception of Francine Rivers. If I could ever develop my writing enough to come even close to her talent, that would more than I would ever ask for.) And this isn't a vanity on my part, honestly. I just can't believe some of the stuff that gets published. It doesn't matter how good your story is if you don't develop your characters. If your characters aren't developed, if what they do doesn't seem realistic, then you dehumanize them and they become impossible to relate to. The greatest story in the world, the most elegent prose, is ruined if the characters don't make sense.
Honestly, I kinda want to write those online "webisodes" that I update one to a couple times a week, where people can comment, tell me what they think, and it would be a good developmental exercise for me I think. I don't want to stay with that, I would love to be published someday and have real books with paper and ink sitting on bookstore shelves, but the internet is a very valuable tool that I can use to my advantage - kind of a impromtu education - learning what works and what doesn't, what I need to work on, how I can improve, and what it is I'm capable of. I've tried those writing communities in the past, and they're fun for a while, but that's kind of overwhelming too. It's way too easy to get distracted by what others have written, or to get discouraged because no one comments on what you have written. Of course, I don't know if people will comment on what I'll write this way either, but I think I have a better chance at receiving constructive critism.
So...now I just need to figure out how to build a website where I can do that. I'm not going to invest money yet, so I need one of those free sites. I really love Blogger for blogging, but I think I'm going to try Wordpress. I tried it before for The Chronicles of Jane that quickly died out, but I think that was because I focused too much on the formating rather than the writing. Who cares how pretty my site is if I only write two chapters?
Oh, one more thing. Even though writing is usually a solitary exercise, and I'm not going to try those writing communities anymore, that doesn't mean that a community of other writers isn't important. I don't want to throw myself into building that community any more than I want to completely distract myself by the logistics of writing, but the rest of tonight before I go to bed I'm going to dedicate to finding other people like me: Christian Romance authors who at least talk about their writing, if not share it, online. I don't know if I'll find anything, but I'm going to try.
UPDATE: I've found some good stuff. By far the most encouraging site I've found as far as giving me other options goes is New Christian Voices.
One thing I just found made my jaw hit the floor...wasn't exactly what I was thinking I was going to find. It's an online resource index called Biblical Counsel: Resources for Renewal. The reason I stumbled upon it was because of this page on Christian Fiction. This statement - or disclaimer - is at the top of the page:
"We see no precedent in Scripture for fiction, either Christian fiction or secular novels. Time spent reading fiction is time lost from learning more scriptural truth with the finite amount of time we are given. However, if the mind is fatigued and needs rest and recreation, then do choose Christian biography or Christian fiction over the novel, over the theater, and over the media. Remember the Jesuits have always used the theater, and now Hollywood, to influence the masses with their heretical message."
I'm not sure who the people are that have published this resource guide, and frankly I don't think I'll be visiting this site anytime soon, but they do have a link to some George MacDonald fiction on the page to their credit.