A couple weeks ago I received a review that made me scratch my head and ask if this person really read the same book I wrote? The descriptions given seemed far out there. But as I had time to process what this person said, along with what other people had to say, it made me realize something: I choose to write dangerously.
I will never glorify evil, but I will write about it because there is real evil in this world. In a tactful way, I will write about abuse because there is abuse in this world. I will write about the dark places of the soul, gut-wrenching pain, and betrayals by loved ones because all of those are real.
I will also share hope, because without hope, the soul withers and dies. I will write about the hope I have experienced, that is, the hope I have found in Jesus. I will do this in a non-preachy, realistic way because Jesus isn’t a sermon or a moral, He is God, and He has touched my heart and changed me. He is the only light and hope at the end of all things.
To write about both the darkness and the light puts me in a place of tension. I told my husband the other day that sometimes I feel like I have a horse tied to each arm and the horses are running in opposite directions. On the one hand, I write about uncomfortable things. Why? Because life isn’t squeaky clean, and neither are the lives of my characters.
- Rowen from Daughter of Light has the power to see inside people and see all of their sin. This has caused her to be exiled from her home, used for financial gain, and abused by her own people.
- Caleb from Son of Truth was a previous murderer and womanizer and still struggles with lust.
- Nierne from Heir of Hope struggles with faith. She grew up in a monastery, but comes to realize she really has no faith in God.
- Stephen from Tainted is betrayed by his fiancée and allows his bitterness to cloud his judgement and place a friend in danger.
- Kat from Tainted is abused by her father, and yet longs for a relationship with him as well. Because of her father’s experiments, she has uncontrollable power that has caused her to hurt others, and so she sees herself as a monster beyond redemption and love.
Even though I write about fictitious characters in worlds far from our own, their struggles, pain, and hurt are familiar to us all.
On the other hand, I write about God, and that just makes people uncomfortable or downright grouchy. Like I said, I do it in a non-preachy way ( I leave the preaching to my husband!). But I do mention a monotheistic deity and have gotten in trouble for it. But to not mention God in one form or another in my books is to bring my readers through a very dark story then offer no hope.
True love does not bring hope in the end. A happy ever after does not bring hope (and seriously, how many real-life happy ever afters actually happen?). There is only one who can heal the soul, and that is God. And after what some of my characters go through, they need more than a true-love bandage to heal what has shattered inside of them. I know there are readers who have also been shattered, and I want to help bring healing to them as well by showing them what God can do.
However, to write this way is to write dangerously. It means I’m not going to make everyone happy. I’m not going to make the person who wants the clean, light-hearted Christian novel happy. And I’m not going to make the person who hates any mention of God happy. It means I will always write with tension on either side of me.
There are readers out there who want—even need—the books I write. They know the darkness, and they want the light. And so I will continue to write dangerously because that is what God has called me to write and because of those readers.
How about you? Have you felt tension in what you write? Do you feel pulled in both directions? What is God calling you to write?
17 thoughts on “I Choose to Write Dangerously”
I definitely have encountered this struggle. I love the way you addressed it and completely agree with everything. I hope I’m able to “write dangerously”.
I really enjoyed Daughter of Light and am looking forward to continuing the series soon!
Yes, I often feel that pull. Seven Deadly Tales explores the seven deadly sins. I wanted to show the sins as they are and not glorify them. At the same time, writing the lust story at a PG-13 level was challenging.
Yes, that can definitely be challenging!
I commend you for writing dangerously and not trying to appease everyone. I do feel as if I write in this way as well, as my new novel deals with a lot of what you discuss in this post, as I have written about God, darkness, loss, hope and spirituality in a way I don’t think many have. And I don’t care. It’s how I want to tell my story. If it makes some people angry, that’s their problem, not mine. So, keep it up and always listen to your heart. You’re never going to make everyone happy. If you try, you’ll just drive yourself insane. : )
I’m actually intrigued now about your books. I may need to check out Daughter of Light and review it on my blog! Good luck with all your current and future success.
It is tricky, to be sure. But when I am writing I just try to remember how much I don’t like books that are “safe” in every way, and it helps me to get over the discomfort I feel when writing outside the box. And it is true, you will never please everyone, so the best thing to do is to write YOUR story, and see what happens.
So true! I’m thankful for my first editor who pushed me to be vulnerable with my writing and not go the safe route 🙂
Love this! So very true. Keep on writing, friend, you do a beautiful job of capturing that tension–love that you write about REAL things, and are faithful to follow what God puts on your heart!
Thank you, my friend 🙂
I love your books and a big component of that is the realism. It’s one of your strengths. Caleb in all of his baggage is a stronger character for it. He’s probably my favorite of your characters although that’s a tough choice. The scene with Stephen and his fiancee is gut-wrenching but not gratuitous.
Good job on speaking out. The Gospel is not always easy to share. And people generally shy from the Gospel. They prefer to solve those dark places themselves.
This is something I struggle with a LOT! I definitely tend to write broadly so I kind of have stopped defining myself as a writer OF Christian books into a CHRISTIAN who writes books – it’s just too restrictive for me.
I don’t know what it’s like for other writers, but I just write the story and see where it goes. Usually subconsciously a theme starts to emerge. I don’t force a story to be Christian or not, instead, I let myself flow into the story. I think that helps a story be more authentic 🙂