I’m a Christian, and I write fiction. But I don’t write Christian fiction.
It’s not that I have a problem with Christian fiction. A lot of people have issues with art or entertainment made exclusively by Christians and for Christians, but I’m not one of them. My day job is at a Christian rock station, for crying out loud. I’ve seen how powerful this stuff can be.
I just don’t write Christian fiction because I’m bad at it.
Believe me, I’ve tried. I used to read CS Lewis and GK Chesterton, and I’d think This has to be the way to write something that God cares about. And then I’d sit down with some profound message on my heart, and I’d try to fit a story around it.
And I’d fail.
Every. Single. Time.
I spent years trying to pull off a novel that SAYS SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE SAID, but all I ended up with was a bunch of ham-fisted, incoherent stories. I’d like to think I at least know what I need to do to be a good Christian radio DJ, but when it comes to Christian fiction, my brain just doesn’t work that way.
Somewhere along the line, I finally stopped taking myself so seriously and decided to just write something fun. I had this idea rolling around in my head where a robotic soldier falls in love with his mechanic and gets on the bad side of the most dangerous man on the planet, and I thought I’d give it a shot. It was a goofy story, but I also found it oddly compelling.
So I sat down and started to write Alpha.
And then something weird happened.
In the middle of this story with its odd tonal battle between offbeat humor, over-the-top action, and cheesy romance, I found an opportunity to say a few things about unconditional love and sacrifice. I didn’t do a massive rewrite to make those themes the centerpiece of the novel, but I did try to touch on them in a line of dialog or in a character’s thought process when the opportunity came up.
The same thing happened with The Marian, and it’s been happening as I write the sequel (tentatively titled The Hunted and maybe two months away from being a completed rough draft, if you’re curious). I didn’t start with one big point or thesis statement. I started with a story that got me excited. Then, as I wrote that story, I kept finding places to insert my faith.
I still wouldn’t classify any of these books Christian fiction. I hope they lead people closer to Jesus, but that’s not their primary purpose. Their primary purpose is to tell a fun story. That’s it.
The more I’ve embraced this approach to worshipping God through my writing, the more it’s helped me grow in my own faith. Sometimes, I fall into the trap of thinking God is only the God of sermons and ethereal, afterlife-based messages. But he’s so much bigger than that.
He’s the God of everything.
And the more I write this way, the more that truth crystallizes for me.
Creatives: How do you incorporate your faith into your work?