Lovely Friday to everyone. Today I am happy to welcome Kathi Macias, the author of over 30 books to Joy in the Journey. Kathi has generously written a post about the importance of writing what matters. Fiction that matters. There are a lot of misconceptions about Christian fiction, much like Christian Rock, I suppose. But Kathi is here to set us straight. Or at least give us something to think about.
Take it away, Kathi.
Writing Fiction that Matters by Kathi Macias
One of the most common questions we writers hear is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Getting ideas really isn’t a problem—at least not for me or most authors I know. The problem is sorting through all the ideas and deciding which ones to pursue. For me that means asking myself which ideas really matter in light of eternity.
If any of you have ever done work-for-hire writing projects or assignment-type writing for magazines or newspapers, as I have, you know that you can do well on any given topic if it’s part of your job. That’s not the same as having a passion for it. When I tackle an assignment that I need to complete to get my paycheck, I do the best job I can, get it in on time, and then move on to something else. But when I’m working on a project—book, article, short story, whatever—with a subject I’m passionate about, I tackle it with much more enthusiasm.
I’ve heard criticism, particularly in Christian circles, about fiction being “fluffy” or irrelevant. At times that may be a valid observation, but more often than not that criticism is coming from someone who hasn’t read Christian fiction in awhile and has no idea how many relevant topics are tackled in these well-crafted stories. For instance, my next four novels, the “Extreme Devotion” series, is loosely based on the true life stories of modern-day martyrs of the faith in other countries. A stand-alone historical novel that I co-authored with Susan Wales for Abingdon Press and that releases in October 2010 vividly portrays the life (and death) of many who came to Christ during the horrific persecutions of the third century. And those are just a fraction of today’s novels that deal with vital, life-changing topics.
When I hear criticism of Christian fiction, I always remind the critics that Jesus was a storyteller. He used fiction to make His points with His listeners, and He was well received. However, He didn’t tell those stories just to entertain His listeners, but rather to challenge and/or educate them. That’s an important distinction, one I keep in mind when sorting through my many story ideas to decide which ones are worth pursuing. I want to entertain, yes, but for a purpose—to educate and challenge my readers to grow in their faith and love for the Lord.
My most recent novel, My Son John, deals with a powerful topic—that of unconditional love and forgiveness in the midst of the most horrific of circumstances. Though my readers constantly tell me “I couldn’t put it down,” meaning I did my job as a writer in holding their attention throughout the book, they also tell me they were in tears by the time they finished reading. Many are moved to go to someone and extend forgiveness for something they thought they would never be able to resolve. And that humbles me beyond words.
Fiction matters, folks—as does nonfiction, and anything else we do in the name of Jesus. We are here for a purpose, which is to preach the Gospel and bring people to Christ, to fulfill the Great Commission by discipling new believers, and above all to worship and glorify God. How exciting that God has given us writers the ability and privilege of doing that through the written word!
***Kathi Macias is the award-winning author of thirty books and the host of an international blogtalkradio show called “Write the Vision.” A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley. You can learn more about her at her website