At the North Carolina Home Educators Conference this past weekend, I talked about why I write and where I get my inspiration. So I decided to elaborate more on why I write and what a great need there is out there for God-glorifying writers. Let’s start back from the beginning and what has brought me to this point of becoming a published author.
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” 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 off of the first Elsie book. It quickly became way too long. But I enjoyed it, and spending time on it made me desire even more to write.
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 twelve or thirteen 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 historical fiction based on Ancient Egypt.” Well, I wrote a story that was short for me. All of my current works (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 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 fourth 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 fill their minds with impure thoughts, sin, and lust?
I continued to see a need for good, Biblically 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 content, 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. My dear reader, 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?
There are so many good books out there, but they are degraded and pushed into corners or called “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, 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?
I will admit to you that I used to be an incredibly prideful young person and I wasn’t following Jesus like I should have been. I shoved Him into a corner and wanted to take control of everything myself. I looked around at the world, at my friends, at our culture, at the books on the shelves and I thought, “Well, I’m a Christian and I obey everything Jesus says. I’m better than everyone out there.” But even in thinking that I committed the worse sin ever – pride. You can’t be for God when you’re full of pride. I praise God that He got a hold of me this past year and showed me where my heart was. I was scared and stunned. I didn’t realize I had been sinning. It was hard, but I tearfully repented and had to ask God to fill me with humility. It hasn’t been easy. Even now as I’m going to conferences I’m worried that my pride will get into the way and I’ll start thinking subconsciously that I’m a great writer. But I know that’s not true! 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 the other great Christian authors out there to take back writing for God’s glory. 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 me?