Friday, March 18, 2005
How I Got Here, Part 16
I was caught.
Caught between a Jesus who loved me and had transformed me, and my fiction writing that I’d worked on for so many years. What was I going to do?
A couple months went by, God started talking—loudly—to me about the sex scenes in my novels. They didn’t follow the biblical pattern for living. Why should I, a Christian, be openly espousing sex before marriage in my stories? Okay, one might argue that I didn’t really espouse it. My characters just engaged in it. That wasn’t the same as saying it was okay, was it?
Yes, it was. I wrote my characters to be as life-like as possible. I wrote them so that readers would empathize with them. So if they’re engaging in certain acts that I, the author, know to be wrong, but the gist of the story says it’s okay—that’s the worldview I’m presenting to my readers. It’s an entirely different thing to show characters engaging in acts that they come to realize are wrong, or at least other characters in the story label them as such. Something in the story has to stand against the wrong behavior. Or it’s allowed to stand as right behavior.
And the suspense story about the psychic. I couldn’t rationalize that one either, for the same reasons.
Meanwhile, I still couldn’t read any fiction but Christian fiction.
Okay, so I have a hard head. It took awhile for me to begin thinking—maybe Christian fiction is what I’m supposed to write. How ’bout it, God? Am I on the right track?
Nope, no lightning bolt from heaven: THOU SHALT WRITE CHRISTIAN FICTION. Just silence. Except for that feeling in my gut . . .
I prayed some more. Asked my husband about it—what do you think? He said some very wise words to me. And so simple. Try it. Take one of your books and rewrite it for the Christian market. See what the experience is like.
So I did. I took Cast a Road Before Me and began rewriting. It didn’t take long—halfway through the book, I knew this was what I was supposed to do. Suddenly writing wasn’t just about me anymore. It was about God. The very experience warmed my new input soul. And amazingly, the story got better! It had a raison d’etre like never before.
My call to write Christian fiction came—strongly—during the six weeks or so of that rewrite. By the time I finished the book, there was absolutely no question in my mind that God had called me to do this. Now I could see God’s leading. Why He’d absolutely closed the door in my mind to Big New York Agent, when she’d flung it wide open. Why He had sent to me Jane Jordan Browne. Jane, an agent who already worked in both the secular and Christian markets. Jane, the agent who’d helped Francine Rivers when she crossed over to write Christian fiction. I even discovered that Francine had undergone something very similar to me—when she had a deep experience with the Lord, she couldn’t write anymore. It took her some time to understand what she must do. Jane hadn’t fought her, hadn’t yelled—what are you doing, trying to bust your career? She had instead just waited Francine out. Jane had been through this process. Now she was my agent. If I’d gone with Big New York Agent or anyone else, Id now have to go through the process all over again of finding an agent willing to work in the Christian market.
Plus—look at all the time-wasting fiascos. The manuscript mix-up in Jane’s office. The lost manuscript at the publisher. The editor who had to take a leave for health reasons. All of these things—just “wasting” time until God could get my heart ready. I saw these events now through God’s eyes and was amazed. And so thankful! I was blessed not to have sold my stories with the content in them that I now didn’t want. What if Id sold Color the Sidewalk for Me months ago? It would be too late. Now I could start my career in the Christian market fresh, with no embarrassments over past books.
For years God had been helping me get ready craft-wise. When that was accomplished, He needed to change my heart.
Well, this all sounded great. Just one thing remained.
I had to tell my agent—and the editors who had my books—that the manuscripts were no longer for sale.
Read Part 17