I Don’t Want To Be A Christian Writer

Not that I necessarily want to start on a negative note, but I don’t want to be a ‘Christian’ writer.

And yes, I am aware that I’m currently co-writing on a blog where both Rachel and I write (a lot) about Christianity, whining that gosh-darn-it I don’t want to be a Christian writer. Irony is my best friend at the moment. However, that doesn’t change my views. I don’t want to be known primarily as a Christian writer.

I should first of all define what I mean by a Christian writer. I mean a writer who solely focuses on writing about Christianity. This is why you have theological books, books about how to lead a church, ‘testimony’ books, and memoirs about missionaries and other great spiritual people. We even have our own steamy Christian romances filled with perfection, church, the Amish, and hot godly men (with muscles).

If you think about it, the Christian media market is somewhat huge and overwhelming. We have so much resources and wealth of information, opinions, and interpretations of Scripture in our Christian consumer culture. I enjoy and draw on a lot from this market. I like reading Tim Keller, C.S. Lewis, and Francine Rivers to name a few. Yet, my writing does not fit into this market and I feel like I often have to warn my Christian community this if they express any desire to read anything I’ve written outside the blog.

I don’t convert my characters to Christianity. Most of them don’t go to church. They don’t know Jesus. They are following their own path. They swear, have sex and get hungover (just warning you, Grandma and any other family relation I have). Still, my characters are lovely. As stupid as it may sound, I love my characters and am fiercely protective over them. They care and want to be cared for. Like everyone else though, they are broken. They are human. I write them like that on purpose.

The thing is because I am a Christian and I like writing, I feel a pressure to write positive representation of Christianity. To butter up all of you atheists and agnostics, if you will. Come on guys, we’re not all hypocrites. Yet, my experience with Christianity hasn’t been all positive and it would be easy for me to write about the hypocrisy that I’ve seen and witnessed.  At the same time, as much as I understand the stereotype of the hypocritical Christians, I would rather not add to that stereotype. Not only because of the majority of Christians I know are loving and genuine but also because it feels disingenuous to act like there is no good with Christianity. Yet, we are broken and sinful people and to not have my Christian character fall in a devastating way also seems disingenuous.

It goes deeper than representation of characters though. There seems to be a level of responsibility when I write about Christianity. My characters don’t have to preach a sermon but they do have to have reflect truth accurately. There is no creative interpretations when it comes about writing an aspect of the Gospel. There is a need, for me as a writer, to represent truth accurately.

I honestly don’t want to undermine the broken but steadfast Christian character in fiction or writing aspects of faith into a story. In fact, it is the opposite. I hold it too highly. I see the need for it. Yet, I’m not sure if that is what I want to do or meant to do even. I’ve become quietly convinced that giving a voice for ‘the speechless’ ( read Proverbs 31:8-9) is something I want to do with my writing. Provide the stories for the people who cannot tell them.

While my faith and my writing influence each other, I don’t tie these concepts together. I don’t want to be limited by doing so.  So to wrap this up, I am not a Christian writer. I am a Christian and I am a writer.

-Savvy

4 thoughts on “I Don’t Want To Be A Christian Writer

  1. This sums me up pretty accurately too! I’d love to discuss more about how this works for you. I’m a Christian historical kids’ author, but I feel like my fiction doesn’t fit into either the Christian or secular markets. Too edgy for the one, too spiritual for the other.

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    1. Hello! Firstly, your job sounds flipping amazing and I would love to read your books! What have you published?
      Secondly, none of my work has been published so I can’t say how it works on that front. However as a wanna-be-author and from a philosophical perspective, I don’t write thinking about which market or genre this piece of fiction would fit into. I find that it is too confining and suffocating. I find that my characters develop far more without any internal or external pressure of making it either more or less spiritual. I think sometimes we put too much pressure to write from our own beliefs and own biases, and as a writer I like to get out of that occasionally.
      In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter if your writing is too edgy or too spiritual for one market or the other. It’s your own unique style of writing, just like I have my own unique style of writing, and I hope you embrace it, like I’m learning to embrace mine.
      From a practical, trying-to-publish-and-market-your-writing perspective….I have no clue. At this point, I usually lean back into the philosophical perspective or I would ask Rachel who I assume would know more about this than me.
      Please let me know your thoughts!
      -Savvy

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      1. Hey, I just saw your reply. I toooootally don’t get how WordPress works! I’ve been a columnist for the magazines of the Free Church of Scotland for years, I have a ghostwritten book out that I wrote for a missionary, and I have a middle grade novel about Dietrich Bonhoeffer coming out this month, with that (small) publisher interested in more kids’ books from me. However, while I’m grateful to be published at all, I’ve had little traction with my grownup, crossover books, which is where I feel I really soar. However, I’ve just started work on a YA Christian book which I think could crossover to both adult and non-Christian markets if I do it right. Want to trade a couple chapters to compare genres and styles?

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  2. I’ve felt similarly. I have a general distaste for Hallmark movies (very white, very unrealistic) and other Christian themed/esqued books, movies, etc. out there. The Bible is not a rosy, cozy, Aryan book. There’s incest, violence, wars, murder…all that stuff. It’s very messy in a way.

    I’m trying to strike a balance without getting into either extreme (perfectly rosy vs. perfectly dark). This is an ongoing journey for me, particularly set against the backdrop of what “American Christianity” has become, particularly in the modern political climate. Ponderings and ponderings.

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