Monday, August 29, 2016

A Heart of Holy

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. - Psalm 19:14

I've taken Allen Arnold's ACFW workshop class before. He's a mentor of mine, and I've even chatted with him about a writer's perspective of his upcoming work (stay tuned for an interview in coming weeks!). So when I sat in the workshop on Friday, I was surprised as my eyes got teary.

Because it was all hitting me.

"Readers want stories soaked in the kingdom," he said.


The privilege, the adventure, the redemption inherent in story.

Isn't it cool to think that Jesus so often spoke in story? That the Creator of the world wants to create with you?

Maybe the sole purpose of your current work-in-progress is to draw you to deeper intimacy with God. Would you be okay with that? For whom are we really writing?

But I want to take the thought even deeper. I'm talking to those of you, like me, who have been deeply and irrevocably touched by Christian fiction and whose hearts beat with yearning to be part of that ministry.

I'm talking to those of you who dream of readers today. Maybe there's a reason for your dream. Maybe God has given you a heart of ministry. And even if you're unpublished, you ought to start asking Him to prepare your own heart for what your readers might need.

What do readers want in a story?

More than buggies, or time travel, or zombies? More than any trend or any genre that's selling?

Readers want kingdom stories.

We have all read stories about God. We know these things. If we want to read about God, we will read non-fiction, or better yet, the Bible.

But fiction readers crave something different entirely. They crave experience. And the only way to offer this is to first have the experience yourself.

You can replicate information. But you can't pour from a dry well.

Remember when Moses went up to the mountaintop with God and came back glowing?

Come back glowing.

Not just for your own sake, or your agent's, or to get a contract, but for your readers'. For your ministry. For the industry.

Glow with His presence, and the work will be easy. The word count may come just as slowly, and your wrists may ache, and your head may be throbbing from staring at the screen. But the work--the burden of it all--will come easy.

How do we offer readers kingdom-soaked stories?

Well, by first soaking.


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...


Glynis said...

I do so often forget this part of it. I've been working from a dry well for awhile now. This was beautiful reminder that soaking it all in is necessary, all the time.

kaybee said...

ASHLEY, this is deep. I've been doing a lot of editing and rewriting over the summer, but I haven't been able to start anything new. I think this is why, the well is dry. This is what I need to do next. Thank you.
Kathy Bailey

Keely Brooke Keith said...

Timely reminder. Thank you, Ashley!

Camille Eide said...

This is an excellent word. Thank you! :)

Julia M. Reffner said...

LOVE this! Speaks to the heart as always! A truth that I'm learning as I needed to let my well be refilled in so many ways over this past week! Love you and your words, girl and seeing God use them!

Krista Phillips said...

Yes Yes and LOTS MORE yes.

I sat in on that class as well and wow. I still have a lot of soaking and praying and thinking to do to absorb it all.

But a great reminder that I need to spend time soaking in JESUS.

Ashley Clark said...

Thanks, Karen! :) Wish I could take credit for it. ;)

Ashley Clark said...

Glynis, I can relate. The past few weeks, I've felt God drawing me to Himself and seeing writing not as something just to do or complete, like a performance, but to enjoy, as time with Him. Glad it encouraged you!

Ashley Clark said...

Kathy, I love hearing that! Can't wait to see what God gives you as you go even deeper!

Ashley Clark said...

Thank you for stopping by, Keely!

Ashley Clark said...

Thank you for sharing, Camille! Love your name!

Ashley Clark said...

Thank you, Jules! <3

Ashley Clark said...

Krista, it's so easy to neglect, isn't it, when God is so kind and gentle with us?

Janet W. Ferguson said...

Love this! And I love that the conference focused on this! You summarized the heart of it well.