Friday, March 25, 2011

Changing the World One Word at a Time

When I first started writing, I wrote what I loved. Sure I was ruled by my passion for story telling and knew nothing about the rules and the fact that beginning a novel with back story and endless description wasn't the best way to go about it. I wrote for the love of writing.

After I became a Christian, that passion for writing only intensified, and I knew I wanted to write inspirational fiction. But, I had it in my mind that if I was going to write stories with this wonderful gift God gave me, then I'd better be doing it to change lives. They'd better be deep, emotional, life-changing stories that would sink deep into the hearts of readers and bring them closer to God.

However...I was inspired by contemporary inspirational novels. Not only that, they were romances. How was I supposed to reconcile that? And worse, how was I supposed to tell people at church that I write romances. Gasp!

So, clearly it took me awhile to settle into this genre and realize that not every book needs to have that huge emotional impact. Not every novel is going to change lives in the same way.

In fact, every novel serves a purpose.

No genre is insignificant! The first Christian fiction I read was romantic suspense. And you know what? It left an impression on me. Not only as a writer but as a believer. Hard to imagine romantic suspense could have that impact, but it did. I have to remind myself of this when I wonder if my writing is making a difference. A book in any genre can make a difference.

Everyone can reach someone with their writing.
Readers pick up books for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes they need something deep and moving. Sometimes they crave a mystery to sweep them away and keep them guessing. And others, they want a romance to drag them from a long day and lift them up with a happy ending. Any and all of these genres are important to the reader for a reason.

Believe in what you write!
If you know what genre or genres you're passionate about, don't be afraid to pursue them. Don't be afraid to do them well and reach out to the readers who love that genre. Confidence in what you write doesn't just show in your writing, it shows in you, too! It shows to the people you talk to about your writing, and it shows to agents or editors. Writing is a part of who you are and feeling confident about it, and the genre you write in, is empowering.

I had to write this post because it took me so long to finally be proud of my writing. I know many of you don't face this dilemma, but for those of you who do, examine how you feel about what you write. Believe that there's a purpose behind your passion and be proud of what you write.

Any readers out there who've wondered about the genre they write in and if it's what they're supposed to be writing? How about the opposite - who shouts what they write from the rooftops? Feel free to share the genre you write in, too. I'm interested to see which genres we all share.


Heidi Chiavaroli said...

Your initial beliefs about writing romance mirror mine perfectly, Cindy! Still working on not being ashamed of what I write, but this post definitely helped. Thank you!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

What a great point. Writing with this purpose in mind can make all the hours at the computer feel more worth it.

Thanks for this reminder today!
~ Wendy

Beth K. Vogt said...

I have two questions posted near my desk: Does my writing change people? Does my writing make others grapple with questions?
I write contemporary romance too. There was a day when I felt my story was insignificant compared to others--they were tackling such huge, eternal story questions!
But romance is a huge eternal story question too. Within that experience are so many other questions: Am I lovable? Am I significant? Is this my destiny? I could go on and on . . .
Great post, Cindy.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Heidi, it's nice to know we're not the only ones who get feelings like this. And yes, be proud of what you write! There's so much writing out there that makes a difference and we don't know which stories will reach readers and in what way, so we just have to keep writing what we feel led to write.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Wendy, you're right! Even though we know our writing is worth it most of the time, sometimes we need a reminder when we get in low places or spend hours and hours on the same project.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Oh, Beth, I love your comment, particularly because you write contemp. romance and that seems to be a genre a few of us (at least) struggle with. Stories of love and growth because of relationships reach right into the heart of readers lives and it makes sense that they can and are impacted by our stories. Have a great weekend!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Cindy, this is a great post.
My oldest daughter made her point clear when I mentioned I wanted to write Christian Romance. Obviously it was a no-no.
Perhaps I could give it a whirl, let her read my work, then give her a chance to change her mind. :)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Mary, I will be rooting you on if you decide to write a Christian romance one day :) I think you can draw so many parallels between our relationships with others and our relationship with God and that's part of what draws readers to Christian romance. It's not just a love story, it's an example of that unconditional love we get from God that woos us closer to Him.

Christine Long said...

I started writing in order to share the lessons I've learned about faith. Weaving them into fiction appealed to me more than trying to write non-fiction.

Although I don't have any books published yet, I've written a contemporary woman's fiction, 2 1/2 mysteries (one of them has a sequel I'm only half finished), working on a historical romance, and about a dozen short stories.

I came through a rough time recently when I questioned whether I should continue writing or not. God's gentle hand guided me out of that place and back into writing. Thank you for your encouraging post!

Jeanette Levellie said...

Thank you for saying this, Cindy. I often feel odd woman out because I DON'T write novels. But I LOVE my devotional/humor calling, and the Lord has opened many doors for me to share my faith and His goodness with this genre. So, I'll take your advice and believe in what I'm doing. If He wants me to switch tracks, I'm sure He'll make that clear.

You are so sweet. Enjoy your spring break!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I love this post! It's so encouraging!

I recently had someone ask me what kind of books I wrote and I told her romance. She really looked stunned for a minute and then said, "Oh, I thought you were going to say thriller."
I guess she was disappointed. :-)