No one ever told us where the easy part begins.
The story that they sold us keeps us hanging from the end.Rule the World, Zayde Wolf
I have secretly believed too long in the stories of the world. The shadow tales that teach us we can’t, that we shouldn’t. That we aren’t good enough or came too late or aren’t the right person for the job. The false epics built around impostor syndrome and ennui and a mundane reality that hides truth like tautly tied curtains.
These are some of the lessons — the lies — hyped by such tales:
- There is only so much success to go ’round, and probably you’re not the one to have it.
- If you didn’t already accomplish the thing, you’re too late. This lie poses itself cleverly no matter how old you are or how long you’ve wanted to do the thing.
- Magic and miracle aren’t reality. We’re all dust and bones — nothing more or less — so daily grind and pay your bills and be a good little human (whatever good little human means for your time and culture and family).
And I’ve known almost forever the danger of believing in these stories of the world. I cut my teeth on fairy tales and fantasy epics, on magic hills and space ships.
I know that the ring makes it to the volcano despite the wraiths and orcs and eyes in the distance. I know the impossible rats save the sick mouse. I know the red-headed orphan girl who wants only for love finds it despite many mistakes and smashing of slates.
- I know there’s plenty of success, but you can’t base your measurement on everyone else’s.
- I know it’s never too late to start doing the thing.
- I know magic and miracle are reality, and you don’t have to sit down when the world tells you to. In fact, that’s usually when you need to stand up most.
My friend Katelynne is struggling with some of the same issues within different context, and she told me she’s over it. She’s suiting up for battle, armed with devotional books, her Bible, a plan of action, healthier eating and exercise habits, maybe occasional nachos, and her hands over her ears so she can’t hear the stories of the world as they strive to sift her away from success.
This is the tactic I too have employed, with much encouragement from my author support structure. Earlier this year, I decided that it’s time to join my own quest, to write my own stories with the intent of publishing my own books — and while I have a plan, it’s constantly evolving. And I’ve suited up for battle, but one story of the world kept slipping in.
I picked an idea out of the carousel of options in my head. I molded it carefully, considering markets and potential sales and what was hot and not. I thought about the type of story I wanted to read and the one I wanted to (and felt capable to) write. I created an outline and typed here and there and not nearly enough.
And I researched and I listened to the story of the world, and I decided this: I’m Christian, and I couldn’t write a book that was anti-Christian. But the type of story I like to read and feel compelled to write would never sell as Christian fiction (that’s the world’s story, anyway), so I would simply avoid the subject altogether. I’d have good and evil, maybe. Maybe I’d allude to God, but in a wink-wink, some-of-you-guys-know-what-I’m-talking-about way. Jesus we’d keep out of it, because people see Jesus books as preachy. And you can’t have a book with dragons and battles and romance and real people and Jesus; no one is going to read that (here’s the world, telling stories again).
Plan in hand, I began to write more seriously. My husband scheduled a trip with our 3-year-old so I could have three days of writing. Things were on course and going well. I thought.
Then my friend Keith innocently sent me a snippet of a sermon, and everything blew up.
I got to Chapter 10, and the entire novel derailed.
I spent almost an entire day in crisis. In the belly of the whale, refusing to get out onto the beach. Because I realized that the story in my heart — the one I really wanted to tell — doesn’t sideline Jesus. And it’s definitely Christian fiction. And according to the tales of the world, it is wholly unmarketable.
I sent a lot of angsty messages to both aforementioned friends that day. They are both saints, because it’s been a stream of these types of messages for months now. But Katelynne, who is my first beta reader and is reading along as I write, assured me that she wants to read this story.
And since I want to tell it, that’s what we’re doing. All the experts say find someone who embodies your target audience and write for them. It’s easier than writing for a formless mob.
So I’m writing this new adult paranormal romance about broken people and making choices and good and evil and the power of Jesus. About a socially awkward, anxious young woman who’s let everyone shelter her because it’s easier to go with the flow of other people’s decisions…until you can’t anymore and have to do it yourself. About a guarded young man who knows the truth and can’t proclaim it because he’s nursing secret wounds and trying so hard to never mess up again that he’s never connecting again. About the story swirling around them that the world doesn’t want them — or you — to know.
It’s not going to be safe, preachy Christian fiction. But it’s also not going to sideline Jesus. I’m working my hardest to make it a well-written, adventure-driven romance that a variety of readers can enjoy.
So, if this sounds like a book you’d like to read, I hope you’ll follow along. Sign up for my blog notifications or follow me on Instagram and Twitter for occasional updates, cover reveals and all the fun book stuff when we get there. And probably some posts about arming up for battle.
And if you’re doing a thing — or you’ve been avoiding doing a thing because you’ve believed too long in the stories of the world — here’s the real scoop: There’s no easy part. Stop letting the story leave you hanging. It’s time to arm up and enter the battle.