Welcome to my blog, Hopeful Reflections!
For my first blog post, I decided to talk about why I write and why I enjoy being an author. Let’s start back at the beginning of my life and where this whole journey began.
From the time I was very little I loved to talk. I was very verbal and loved reading. My dad worked from home when I was five-years-old, and I often got to work alongside of him. My dad is a fabulous storyteller. He made up stories about people who were based off of my favorite characters in literature and put people in the stories with my name and my brother’s name. I learned a lot from those stories about life and about characters and about how to form and make stories.
My mom read me stories almost every day of my life. Together, we’ve read whole series of wonderful, God-glorifying books. We read the entire “Elsie Dinsmore” series (the old one, not the new one. The old one has twenty-eight books!) together and finished it when I was around twelve-years-old. I started to write a play based on the first Elsie book. It quickly became way too long. But I enjoyed it, and spending time on it made me desire to write even more.
Now, if you knew me when I was about twelve-years-old, you wouldn’t really know this but… I talked to myself all the time. From the time I was four to about the time I was thirteen or fourteen I was constantly talking to myself. I had imaginary characters or pets that lived in my world. I wrote entire books in my head and acted or talked them out. It wasn’t until I was about thirteen and people started to catch me telling myself ridiculously dramatic stories. That quickly put an end to my vocal storytelling. But I continued to work through thoughts and ideas in my head for many different books.
When I was thirteen, we started actively studying Ancient Egypt. I loved studying Ancient Egypt. The dress, the architecture, the style of living. Everything was so exciting, so cool, so colorful. As I finished my study of Ancient Egypt, my dad told me to “write a short story based in Ancient Egypt.” Well, I wrote a story that was short for me. All of my other current works at that time (the Elsie play and an 8th Narnia book) were over eighty pages long. My short story was only twenty-five pages. That’s short, right? Umm… Not really. But I remember my dad reading my story aloud to my family. At the end, he actually teared up! I didn’t realize my story was that moving!
Later, my dad told me that I had a great idea going and that I should pursue writing this into a full book and making it better.
That’s how my journey began. Now, seven years later, my dream is finally becoming a reality.
It’s been so exciting to see cover art, to start editing and getting ready for type-setting, to talk to my publishers about conferences and short stories and marketing ideas. It all feels so surreal, but then so real at the same time. It’s a lot of work. I’ve spent years getting to this point. But it was all worth it. I grew closer to God, I have a book that I pray will encourage others, and as an author I get to see first hand how God is going to use this book.
Granted, it wasn’t all easy. There were many days I was frustrated, angry, or upset. I’ve been through about ten drafts (currently) on this book. Editing is hard work! But if you really feel God is calling you to write a book, He will give you the strength to accomplish it.
For those of you out there who, like me, have a dream of getting a book published, I just wanted to encourage you in that. Even if you don’t think you have a gift but you still feel God tugging at your heart, start traveling down the path of writing a book. If you’re writing for God’s glory, God will bring the right people to you to help you and guide you and teach you. And if you’re open, humble, and teachable, you might be able to make a better book than naturally gifted writers who are prideful and unteachable.
But before you begin, let me tell you some of the main reasons why I pursued writing a book. First, I felt God calling me to it. Second, I believed in the message of the book and knew that it was something that many girls and boys my age needed to hear. But there’s a third reason, a reason that’s incredibly, incredibly important.
When I was about seventeen, my mom and I went to a Christian book store to get something, I can’t even remember what right now. I told my mom I was going to the youth section to look at the books. My book was getting closer to the finished stage and I was dreaming of the day when my book might be on one of these shelves. I picked up some books, flipped them over, and started reading the backs. As I continued to read and continued to pick up books, I was appalled. This is what kids these days are reading? I thought in horror. All of the books that I had picked up in the girls’ section didn’t seem “Christian” in the least. They all talked about romance and boys and gossip. I believe I only saw God’s name mentioned once or twice, and prayer mentioned maybe three times. But even then it was because the main girl character was praying to God for help in her relationship with her third boyfriend at the age of fifteen. Seriously? This is “Christian encouragement”? Shouldn’t Christian books be challenging fifteen-year-old girls and boys to draw closer to God and grow in their faith instead of filling their minds with impure thoughts, sin, and lust? Yes, they need to be “real,” but shouldn’t negative thoughts and behaviors be identified as such and renewed minds be encouraged?
I continued to see a need for good, Biblical solid Christian fiction. I picked up a “Christian historical fiction” about two years ago at a book store and skimmed through it. It was an adult fiction book this time, but there were passages I had to skip over because of sexual content. This so-called Christian historical fiction had almost nothing to do with history and practically nothing to do with God. I saw God’s named mentioned once or twice through the whole book. The main character was competing with her best friend for the attention of a wealthy young man. Jealousy, inappropriate male/female interaction, and selfishness were praised in this book. Those are all attributes that God detests and doesn’t praise in His book.
As I continued to write my own book, “A Cry From Egypt,” I prayed almost every day before I sat down to write. I prayed that this book wouldn’t draw anyone away from Jesus. I prayed that I would write what God wanted me to write so that people would be encouraged in their faith. I encourage you, if you are an author, or an aspiring author, please look around you at the books that are out there. How many of them bring glory to God’s precious name? Without Jesus, we wouldn’t be here right now. There would be no hope, no joy, no love in this world. We can’t even breathe without God’s help. Why would we write anything that would either water down the gospel or teach your readers to pursue the world and the things of this world and take them away from God?
I fell in love with some great books from the 1800s like the “Elsie Dinsmore” series or G.A. Henty’s historical fiction. I’ve heard others degrade them and call them “old fashioned.” And unfortunately, today many Christians treat Jesus like that. They want Jesus in their world, but they only want Him around for the good parts of life. They use Him as a crutch in the hard times, or just go to Him when they need something as if He was a genie in a lamp. We hide Him in a corner and never let His light shine. We tell Him, “Yeah, I want You in my life, but I don’t want to obey Your rules because our culture is different today and purity doesn’t matter. Your rules are old fashioned. Just help me and make me happy and maybe I’ll keep you around.” How do we dare to treat the Creator of the universe that way?
But back to the books from the 1800s. As I said, many people dislike older books because they are “old fashioned.” I’ve also heard people say that those books aren’t believeable because the characters are too perfect and unrealistic. While I agree that it is hard to relate to characters that are too “perfect,” they at least pointed the readers towards God and God’s word. They helped the readers to strive for higher morals instead of bending down to the worldly culture around them. The medium of writing and story-telling is so powerful! And over the last two hundred years it has been changed so dirastically for the worse. I firmly believe that one of the reasons why our society is so far from Christ today is because of what we’ve allowed to enter our minds through the things we watch and the things we read.
With my book, I’m trying to change that. I tried to make characters who, though very imperfect, learn from their mistakes and strive to become more Christ-like each and every day. I endeavored to promote what is good and put down what is evil. But I couldn’t do it alone. This book wouldn’t have been written without God’s help or His ideas. The entire plot is based on His word! And this summer, I realized that my book wasn’t worth writing unless God received the glory for it.
I encourage you, I beg you, please help me and other Christian authors out there to take back writing for God’s glory and do it in humility to not just hold up Christ’s righteousness, but to show our need for His righteousness in exchange for our filthy rags. Imagine the impact we could make on the books people read, on the movies that are produced, on the way people think, and on the entire world if we put God first and let Him direct our paths. It’s not the easiest battle, but the rewards are endless and eternal. Are you ready to join us?