So, I keep thinking of what I can post that is more the “real” me. My problem is that outside my writing (with my characters), I’m not really able to tell many amusing stories to entertain people. In my head, I can make up stand-up routines about my kids and in my mind everyone laughs because I’m funny. But then I try to write it down or tell someone in person, and it just doesn’t come out the way it does in my head. Which means I suck at real life storytelling. You know the people in your life who tell a joke and no one laughs? Yep, that’s me.
But that’s okay. We’re all different, and the key is knowing your own strengths. 😀
And that’s what my post is about. It’s about finding your purpose. Today I saw a movie with my husband (while the kids were in school so it was an actual date). He’s the one who heard of it and I thought it was going to be okay (not great but I was going to be with him, not to see the movie). Anyway, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The movie was Last Ounce of Courage, and it’s about this father who is the mayor of a small town and he uses his position to celebrate Christmas by putting up traditional Christmas decorations (which does include the Christian focus of Christmas). He’s under pressure by those crying separation of church and state to remove the “offensive” decorations. That’s the gist of it. I don’t know if anyone plans to see this movie, so I won’t spoil it by saying what happens.
The theme of the movie was standing up for what you believe in. And then I got to thinking about writing. (Yes, most of the time, I think about writing.) I’ve been feeling out of sorts lately, wondering what I’m writing for. What’s my purpose? What’s my goal? Why do I keep doing it? Should I give it up and choose a less stressful job? (Writing is very stressful. I know all jobs are stressful, but writing happens to be one that is even more so because it’s personal. An author cannot separate him/herself from the work because stories originate from the heart, unless the author isn’t writing what they believe in.)
A couple times a year, I play out the whole “I should give it up” fantasy where I walk away and live a quiet life out of the public eye. Not that there’s paparazzi outside my door, but I’ve had my share of stalkerish types. This is why I don’t like to post about my children or husband or other things that involve my personal life. The best I can do is discuss the more personal side of my writing (if I am to be personal).
Writing and publishing (esp. on your own) is not for the faint of heart. You need a strong resolve. That’s what the movie reinforced today. Anything worth doing is worth doing with your whole heart. Last Ounce of Courage was a Christian film, so there was a theme in there about doing what God has put you here to do. It also had a patriotic theme running through it, and that had to do with defending your freedoms.
My philosophy is that it’s better to take a stand and fail than to never take a stand at all. It’s why I went into self-publishing. When I was seeking out publishers back in 2008, I was told that I couldn’t put Christian material into a romance novel with sex in it. I was told to stop straddling the fence. I gave the matter a lot of prayer. As in, I prayed for about a year before I finally let Eye of the Beholder be the type of book it was meant to be. It was the first book I wrote with sex in it. Early on An Inconvenient Marriage, An Unlikely Place for Love and a couple of my earlier books had no sex in them. They didn’t because I let fear hold me back. It was fear of what others would think when they read my books. “How can you be a Christian and have sex in your books?” I still get emails criticizing me for this, but you know, I’m fully convinced that this is what God has put me here to do. Whenever I start to doubt or wonder, He finds a way to reassure me that I’m on the right path.
And lately, I have been thinking of compromising. When I say “compromising,” I mean taking Christian aspects out of my romances so I’m more popular with a greater number of people. I would keep sex in marriage (can’t budge on that one, guys). I was thinking, “I need to write books that will appeal to more people because it’ll be easier to sell more books that way.” But then, today I realized that it’s not about me. It’s not about what I want but what He wants, and I have to be yielded to His will. So my Christian content will remain in my books. If my characters are supposed to go to church, they’ll go to church. If they want to discuss God at some point (some do and some don’t), I’ll let it happen. If there’s a preacher that plays a role in the book, I’m going to let that preacher in there. I’m not the “in your face” kind of writer when it comes to my faith, but you can see how my faith influences my work.
[If anyone wonders, after publishing Eye of the Beholder, I went back and revised my earlier books so they had sex in them. This is why Falling In Love With Her Husband (originally Todd’s Bride and Ann’s Groom), An Inconvenient Marriage, An Unlikely Place for Love, and The Cold Wife were revised.]
Sometimes it takes a while to find your purpose. Sometimes you don’t get it right the first time. Sometimes you need to go back and do revisions. I’m not afraid of failing. I’m afraid of not improving. So keep striving to find your purpose, and if you falter, know you’re not alone. I’ve faltered, too. Whatever God has planned for you, know that even if you don’t see the results from your efforts, He is in control of it all and will use it for His glory. We do what He’s given us to do with the resources we have, and He does the rest.