The email drops in my inbox, and just from the subject line, I know what’s coming. It’s usually something innocuous enough like, “I just had a question about your books” or “Something’s been bothering me…”
There’s really no indicator, but it’s like I’ve developed a “Spidey sense” about it or something.
I click, and there it is. “Why don’t you share the plan of salvation in your books? How will people know how to get saved if you don’t share it?”
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It’s a good question, by the way. A valid one.
Now, it rarely is worded exactly like that, but if you condense the questions into two main sentences, that’s what you get.
My answer, I think, surprises them.
I don’t write evangelistic fiction. My target audience isn’t the seeker, the atheist, the agnostic, or the floundering. That sounds so horrible when I type it out, but it’s true. I have one primary reason why I write.
I write to encourage the body of Christ.
That’s it. That’s my goal. My target audience is comprised of Christians who need, ache, love to see how other Christians (through fictional characters) live out their faith. The reason why I write is to show that Christians are real, flawed, hurting, struggling people who have messy lives. I don’t write what I call edgy fiction as a general rule. That’s not my strength. I leave that to authors like Tammy Gray.
The next question inevitably follows.
“But what about people who are searching for Jesus?”
They still read my work. I have a Jewish reader, several pagans, and I have people who inform me that they “aren’t religious” but they love the characters and storylines. You know, I receive emails (sometimes on the same day) that say, “Your books have brought me back to Jesus” (I almost weep over those, and I’m not a crier!) and emails that say, “It’s so nice that a religious book doesn’t shove the Bible down my throat.” When Doctorow said that writers are schizophrenics, I think he got it right.
That’s not to say I don’t ever share Gospel elements.
Of course, occasionally, someone in one of my books will come to Jesus. It happened in Discovering Hope, it happened in Not a Word, and it happened in Effective Immediately. It’s gonna happen sometimes.
But when I write those stories, it’s kind of how I love my romance–as a natural outpouring of a life lived rather than center stage. Because I think Christians often wonder how to share Jesus with others without ramming Him down their throats. They don’t want to be timid. They don’t want to be a “Bible thumper.” They just want to share Jesus.
So sometimes, people in my books share Jesus. But I write that scene to encourage Christians. If it helps someone who isn’t a Christian see Jesus as his or her Savior and repent, well hallelujah! I am thrilled. It’s just not why I wrote it.
I write to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” This is what my characters do. They are faced with situations and eventually approach the solution as they see Scripture advising.
Got a secret for you:
I don’t always agree with their solution. But the point is, they look to Jesus–His Word–for that solution. And that’s my goal as an author.
To encourage the body of Christ–to turn to the Word of God, the Bible, for the solutions and inspirations in their lives.
To use story to draw people back to the feet of the Master Storyteller.
Okay, I have one more reason (hence, why I said two!).
I also write because I have these stories filling my head. Sometimes, I feel like I’ll explode. I get new ideas daily. Most are easily adjusted to be parts of other stories, but then I scroll through stock photos in search of an image for a blog post (like this one) and there it is. A photo. And with it comes an idea–a fun idea.
I pop it in a lightbox (a fancy word for a file folder on the stock site). Then I come back later for it. Or that’s the theory, anyway. My most recent one sent me in search of another picture. And another. Why? Because I instantly saw a trilogy–three women, friends, who met on the same day in the 7th grade and now each is facing a huge fear in her life. THREE BOOKS. This is how my brain works every day.
So, the 2 main reasons why I write?
One is deep, spiritual, and meaningful–I write to encourage the body of Christ. I use story to point Christians back to the Master Storyteller. The other… well, that’s just a feeble attempt to de-clutter my overstuffed brain shelves. It’s hopeless, isn’t it?