I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since age eleven. It just occurred to me one day that books don’t magically turn up on shelves; people write them. So, I started writing and have never stopped. I have not gone more than three days without working on a book in the twenty years since. Some people choose a life purpose, and that’s mine. Even at a young age as a writer, I was headed for speculative fiction… and didn’t know it. Many of even my more serious early novels had elements of “magic” in them.
Over the years, I’ve tried writing different things… mysteries, historical fiction, fairy tales… and I found that trying to remember and stick to dates and historical events was tiresome. You can’t (or, at least, I don’t think you should) change history, no matter how much you want to. See, if I was in the history rewriting business, I’d have Katharine of Aragon run away with Thomas More before she ever married Henry. But, since I’m not Philippa Gregory, I can’t write “serious novels” without being sincere to the truth. So… why write serious novels in the first place?
I started writing novels with a bit more magic in them, and a few less facts, and found my “writing happy place” at last. I get to “play” with historical figures but any changes I make are forgivable because it’s not straight up historical fiction. Not really. Unless hell hounds and Shades really exist, in which case I’m in trouble. But… it’s fun writing what I write. Of course, I want people to read it, but I mostly just have fun writing it. (“Fun” being a subjective term, that also includes “this is hell,” “tears of blood,” and “hair pulling” as I watch a plot unfold chapter by chapter, doubting my ability to tie it all together at the end. Yet, I always do.) I then force my poor mother to read it. I say “poor” because speculative fiction, and magic in general, is not really her thing. She admires my ingenuity but often complains about the deviations from reality. When stressing how crowded my recent endeavor was with dramatic events, I told her, “Mom… this book practically has werewolves in it. You don’t need to fret about events happening too close together.”
My delighted, history-manipulating, magic-infused brain giddily traipses from one light-hearted topic to another. I threw a talented girl into a hellacious wood and forced her to confront a dark adversary. I took unfortunate characters for a trip on the Titanic. I then set another set of characters on the trail of mysterious dark happenings in London while the Ripper ran amuck (that book is coming soon! Mom finally let me pry it out of her hands to prepare it for distribution). And now, I’m five chapters into a stubborn young woman’s sojourn in an assassin’s school during the time of Napoleon. Whilst I’m brewing diabolical plot twists for this book, in the back of my mind I’m stockpiling ideas for my next book, which involves Tudor England. On my desk is a jar filled with slips of paper with brief plot ideas written on them. Oh, I won’t be climbing off this magical bandwagon anytime soon. I am having way too much fun.
For awhile, I considered writing about what people want to read, but then I decided that would kill me. Someone would walk in one day and find me dead and stiff in my office chair, a half completed romance novel on my screen. Or worse yet, a mystery set in some quiet little hamlet. Or even more horrific, a realistic story of some sort, about real people, none of whom are psychic. What a truly heinous notion. After discovering my writing calling, I then considered that perhaps some people might object to my books. After all, “magic” and “Christianity” unfortunately do not mix unless you have “Tolkien” or “Lewis” after your first name. Even though my books deal with symbolism, and each gift is representative of a spiritual gift, that worried me. Then, I realized… I don’t care. I don’t care if you read fantasy, and I don’t care if you don’t. I enjoy writing what I like to read, and if it makes others happy along the way, because it allows them to read a historical fantasy without lewd content, so much the better.
As writers, we worry too much. Many of us write, and never share out of fear of rejection or imperfection. But if God planted in us the seed of a writer, we need to use it. Write what you want to write. Write what you feel called to write. Write what makes your heart sing. Don’t write to sell books; write what is in your soul. Don’t let fear of the opinions of others threaten you into silence. Don’t be afraid to tell a good story well. Don’t doubt your talent, just use it. So often, we want acclaim. We think that big audiences mean success, but the greatest success is in inspiring someone else. If you can touch one heart, and plant the truth in one life, those hours of work are all worthwhile.
What are you still doing here? Go write something!