Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Fine Line

I really hate offending people. I don't know about you, but the minute I know I've had one of those, "Oops, did I say that out loud?" moments, I feel a flush creep all the way up my neck and singe my cheeks pretty darn quick. Of course there are those times when I actually really do say what I mean, whether I should or not. But I always get an 'ouch' at some point.
I think I'm a bit the same with my writing. And I hate to say it, but I'm going to have to get over that.
I realize that I am not going to please everyone. Some people just aren't going to like my stories.
Some will love them. I will have to learn to take the good with the bad and call it a day.

So what brought this on? Kind of funny really. Do you ever read reviews on Amazon?
I do. Sometimes they even sway me toward buying a book. Or not buying one.
I started thinking, in a few months, there are going to be reviews posted about my book. And they might be bad. Or good.
Either way, it's going to be out there. I'll know whether I've written a crowd pleaser or a flop.
If I allow myself to get sucked into this black hole, the outcome could be pretty terrifying.
Thus, I have made a visit to Knights 'R' Us, and purchased a Grade A suit of armour, and a shield. I didn't get a sword because I really hate violence. And the sight of blood.
But I'm ready for whatever you're going to hit me with.
I think.

At the moment, I'm doing okay. I know what I've written. I like what I've written. But I know not everybody will. My characters are flawed. There are things in the book that some people may raise an eyebrow over. "But I thought this was a Christian novel?" And there's the fine line.

I do not write sweet romance. You are forewarned. I don't write smut either, so if you're looking for that, you're going to be disappointed.
I do write real. Real life situations. Real drama. Real sin.
This may come as a bit of a newsflash to you, but people sin. A lot.
Even Christians sin.
A lot.

I don't feel as though I could adequately relate the issues I write about if I had to spritz them with perfume so they didn't stink so much, stick a bandaid on the oozing wound and call it a day.
Have you ever been in a really hurtful situation? I mean gut-wrenching.
Did you have someone pray for you and the next day you were all better?
I doubt it.
Life isn't like that. Not my life anyway.
In most cases, real healing that brings about true forgiveness and redemption does not happen overnight. It probably can't happen within 400 pages either, but you'd be surprised...

So there's that fine line. Keeping it real, keeping the faith. Without sin, we don't need a solution for it. If there were no sin, then nobody would ever have to say they're sorry. We wouldn't have any need for forgiveness. Can you imagine what a crazy candy-coated world we'd live in? Blech.
Super boring too.
But yet, I know there are people out there who prefer not to read stories that deal with hard situations. I respect their stand. Kind of like me and my happy endings - if you don't give me one I feel jipped.
What I struggle with is this. How do you write about sin without offending those who prefer to keep their lives sin free?
You can't. At least I can't.
And I'm not going to.

So here we go. It's sort of like deciding to be a doctor or a dentist - you can do a lot of good either way, but you can't be both. I'm not sure where I'll end up. I may continue to publish within the Christian market, or I may find a place within the secular market. Truthfully, that option is kind of exciting.
Right now I don't know. What I do know is that I'm going to continue to strive to be the best writer I can be. I want to give you an entertaining, thought-provoking story you can sink onto the couch with and get lost for a few hours.
I am who I am, no apologies.

I'm going to be interested to hear what you have to say about all this.
Reality or roses?


Rosslyn Elliott said...

Reality. With a rose scent. :-)

I like it mixed, but I've found that everybody has a different boundary when it comes to how much darkness they like mixed in with their light.

I know what you mean about looking at reviews and wondering, though. In just a couple of months, I'll be getting them too. I have been shocked a few times by the extreme negativity of some of the reviews on Goodreads. I'm all for honesty, but thick skin is definitely in order for authors.

Carol said...

I popped over from Jody Hedlund's blog to say "hi". I can really relate to this post, and your desire to be real and honest, as I've been wondering how that is going to affect the reception of my novels, too. I haven't queried much, but am about to start submitting one that I thought might be better in the secular market, but instead will send in the Christian direction on James Scott Bell's suggestion.

I, too, wondered about "offending those who prefer to keep their lives sin free: until I realized that if potential readers would shy away because they don't want to read about how people deal with their sinfulness, then they aren't the audience I'm writing for anyway.

I love your comment, "Without sin, we don't need a solution for it." :)

Carol J. Garvin

Heather said...

Very well said! Striving to be the best writer we can be is really all we can do because you're right, we can't please everyone. Where is this store, I'd like to purchase one of those suits too! ;)

Mary E Hanks said...

I liked this very much. Well done! I say go for what's on your heart in life--and in writing. And you are right, you will never be able to please everyone. Stay strong and true. Blessings on your new adventure. I look forward to reading your work. :o)

Keli Gwyn said...

I think it's great that you're exploring your options and seeing what direction you want to take with future stories.

I've heard that dealing with reviews can be challenging. I wish you many glowing ones.

Katie Ganshert said...

Reality!! 100% reality. Roses sorta make me sick sometimes. I'm excited to read your stuff, Kathy. And you are SO not alone on saying stuff and later regretting it. Just read my tweet from this morning. I had a moment like that last night. Glad I'm not alone!

Catherine West said...

Oh good, I feel better now! Sometimes when you're wondering if what you're feeling is 'right', it is really great to hear what others think too. Thanks everyone, for sharing as well!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Oh, I have too many memories of things I've said without thinking... not intending to hurt someone. How I wish I could erase my memory!

I think reality makes roses all the more beautiful.

Heather Sunseri said...

I am so excited to read your books, Cathy. I believe in keeping it real, and sometimes that means people, even Christians, experience some really dark stuff.

OH, and I posted something on Twitter one day, totally joking, and realized how it sounded after. Couldn't delete it fast enough. Open mouth, insert foot!

Cherie Hill said...

I love your honesty and transparency! I say "reality!" What else really matters anyway?
Good luck with your book! I'm going to check it out!!!!