Books have the ability to change lives, change history, change the world. It is no wonder that when we Christian writers put pen to paper, or in this day and age, PDF’s to ebooks, we must be constantly aware that we will be held accountable one day for what we write.
I had a debate with someone after I published my first book, “Shoot the Wounded”, that I shouldn’t “limit” myself to writing about God. I know he was being well-meaning at the time because he knew how difficult it was then, and still is, to market and promote my contemporary Christian young adult novels in a predominantly secular market. He said, “You’re a great writer. You could write in any genre and it would be amazing!”
Well, my friend makes a good point. The Christian marketplace for books is relatively small when compared to the secular market that focuses on the occult, explicit sexual content, and profane language. Certainly I could spout out the same vulgarities and write content that would make my friends blush. I might even make money at it… but would it be right?
My writer’s life has been for the most part a solitary one. It’s basically me parked in front of a computer screen, tapping out a plotline that is only imagined in my mind and then brought to “life” on paper. It’s a weird process really. It’s even weirder when I consider all the other bizarre imagery and thoughts also rattling around in my head at the same time that I could just as easily regurgitate to life and then instantly regret. Silly, stupid, and basically messed up things that really should NEVER be put to paper. Fire yes,… paper… no!
James 3:1 says that “not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” I dare say that a writer in many ways is a teacher, especially those of us who are called by God to write. Our words may teach, empower, embolden, condemn, accuse, uplift, benefit and reprimand. Look at history. Mein Kampf caused an entire nation to embrace the ideology of a madman. The book, 1984 by George Orwell coined the phrase “Big Brother is watching you.” – a phrase that takes on new meaning today in this world of interconnectedness on the internet. The word “Twilight” will no longer be just a time in the day to sit and watch the sun go down, but now will be forever associated with vampires and werewolves. Even a simple journal, found after a young girl’s death, has become a symbol of racial persecution, something the young Anne Frank likely never would have imagined as she wrote her private thoughts into her diary.
Now I would be incredibly egotistical to think that my little books will someday “change the world”… Whoa! Still, whenever one person picks up and reads one of my books, whatever I have written will likely elicit a response… good, bad or indifferent in that person. No doubt when I look at my reviews later I will be able to determine what the ultimate response has been…
The thing is, I write to a “higher calling”. I am not writing to glorify myself but to glorify God. Writing what the world might like may get me noticed and possibly sell more books, but as a Christian writer that should not be my focus. My pen (computer keyboard) is in God’s service. So I hope you will allow me the artistic license this one time to change the wording in James slightly to keep me ever mindful as a writer Whose I am:
“Not many of you should presume to be (writers),… because you know that we who (write) will be judged more strictly.”