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.
Good post Ruth. I personally enjoy all your books and wouldn’t want to see you change anything in them.
Be true to yourself, Ruth. I don’t think there’s a thing wrong with you having sex in your books since the characters are always married. Sex is a very important part of marriage and sanctioned by God. Sometimes I struggle with having sex in my books because they aren’t married. But they are in love and will be monogamous, and I always picture marriage down the road with the characters. And yet, I still feel a little guilty sometimes because it’s still sex outside of marriage. That’s one of the reasons the last book I wrote didn’t have actual sex. And the ones that do aren’t graphic.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to ramble about my books, LOL. It’s just that I understand being torn between writing what you love and writing what’s popular. I think the way your books are now are the way they are meant to be. I wouldn’t change a thing.
I don’t think sex is necessary for a book to be good. I’ve skimmed books with sex in them (even when in marriage) if the plot dragged, and I’d say 90% of the books I’ve read dragged at some point. I’ve skimmed through sex scenes if I didn’t feel they added to the growth of the characters or their relationship. Like anything in a book, there has to be a purpose for having it in there. That’s what I like most about your books. Every scene has a purpose. If I skimmed through yours, I’d miss something and have to go back. LOL That’s what I want when I read a book. I want to read every word without getting bored.
It’s hard to get over that “what will others think?” hurdle. If I can remind myself of what God wants, then what others want becomes less important, and it helps my focus.
Ramble any time. I love listening to you and what’s going on as you write. And I loved Soul of a Vampire. It showed such a great struggle between the evil and good nature within everyone. 😀
Thanks so much for sharing from your heart Ruth 🙂 Really appreciate your sharing about your struggle with finding your purpose, as that’s what I’ve been praying about lately too. Love what you said that “it’s not about what I want but what about He wants.” So maybe that’s why we have these desires put in our hearts to share with others…:) Your post really spoke to me today, thanks!
I’m glad my post helped you. 😀 I was embarrassed when I wrote it because it was admitting a lot of my weaknesses. I think God gives us a desire to write what He wants us to write. I’ve fought my desire to write the type of romances I do for a long time before I finally did it the way I felt He was leading me. Only then I was happy with the books. I think that’s part of it. When we’re satisfied with the final product, I think that’s God’s way of telling us we’re doing what He wants. That’s not always easy to figure out when others throw in their opinion (and some are not pretty when they give their opinion). I have to get away from others a couple times a year to refocus on what I need to be doing. Sometimes I think others can hinder what our purpose is. On the other side, people can also help us fulfill our purpose. The challenge is knowing the difference, which is why prayer and Bible study is so important to me.
I think God puts the desire to write what He wants us to write inside of us too:) Your words of wisdom really helped me…’when we’re satisfied with the final product, that that’s God’s way of telling us we’re doing what He wants.’ That really helped me…as I’m in the editing phase right now…so that helps. As with anything I’m sure there’ll be negative and positive comments, …but it’s so true that reading Scripture …listening to truth and prayer will ground me for what’s to come:) Awesome perspective Ruth…thanks:)
I’m glad it’s helped you. 🙂 It’s always a process, and as you said, there will be those who like it and those who won’t. As long as we’re doing what He’s called us to do, that’s what matters.
I found your comments to be very encouraging, and they’ve helped me as I press on to write my next book. It helps to know I’m not alone.
Dear Ruth, I agree with you and your purpose. It is also how I conduct my life — Feeling that I am following the Lord’s will, in my own writing style. Sometimes I feel as though I am groping in the dark, but as long as I know I am walking under Jesus’ guiding light, I’m okay. Long after we are gone, our words will be there to comfort, bring warmth to hearts, and peace and inspiration to minds and the human spirit. God bless you, dear. Dorothypaula 🙂
What I like is the knowledge that God chooses different ways to use us. We’re all part of the body of Christ, but we have different functions. Why should it be any different with writing? If we all wrote the same kind of book, it’d be boring. Every once in a while, I’ll think about the variety of nature. We have mountains, deserts, beaches, prairies, etc. God wants all of us to be unique, and we can all use that uniqueness to give Him glory. I was listening to a podcast by someone who said, “When the apostles were writing their letters, do you think they imagined we’d be reading them today?” You’re right. Who knows where our books will be after we are gone? 😀 God bless you, too, my friend.