Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Still Wrong

Last May I wrote about some of the ways I’m doing this author blog thing wrong. Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing the whole author thing wrong.  Why?  Because I’d like to read more books like mine, and I rarely find any.  When you spend years and years painting mountains and everyone around you is painting other things, you have to wonder if mountains are wrong.  Here are a few reasons I think I might be painting mountains.

My Christian fiction is Catholic.  I’ve read enough to know that Christian fiction should be completely nondenominational (unless it’s Amish).  Characters discuss the faith in broad strokes (Go Jesus!) without delving into specific doctrines.  But they do this with the vocabulary and general understanding that all Christians are Protestants.  I’m not trying to break rules or break into apologetics when my characters mention Mass or Confession.  I have to write what I know.  That is also a rule.

My Catholic characters act Catholic.  It’s possible I’ve had terrible luck.  It seems that every time I manage to find a Catholic story, I’m disappointed by dubious content.  One book that recently sounded promising was taken off my list by a review that praised it for having a main character who “says bad words! Just like a real person.”  The only reason I seek out Christian/Catholic books is to avoid the things I can find in almost every other book.  I think people who live by a moral code are more fun to be around, in both real and made-up worlds.

My light entertainment does not grapple with anything.  Too often in Christian fiction, characters who are truly living their faith still have heavy regrets in their past.  Readers are forced to watch as they deal with consequences or painful memories.  We might even read about someone struggling to escape abuse.  Serious issues do not make good entertainment.  I prefer not to torture my characters.

My definition of “inspirational” includes more than tragedy.  Christian fiction likes to explore the ways God comforts and aids us through the most trying times.  I get that, and I respect it.  But tear-jerkers are not my cup of tea.  I dipped my toes into that water with They See a Family.  I think that book did stretch my writing muscles.  But it still makes me feel as though I need to apologize to anyone it might have made cry.  I have no plans to read or write anything else that includes the words tragedy or heartbreak in the blurb.  My soul is inspired by joy.

My fluffy romances do not illuminate the human condition or other such nonsense.  I am turned off by fiction that promises to be meaningful and/or make people think really hard.  Spiritual growth is awesome.  Rest is awesome.  I believe they are best achieved in separate spheres.  I hope that reading my books will make people smile, maybe even laugh.  I have no aspirations to change anyone’s life with my stories. 

My characters aren’t stupid.  Yes, I need to admit quite a bit of bias and subjectivity here.  When I do find light stories, I quickly lose patience with authors who try to draw comedy from people acting unbelievably dense.  Oh, no!  My credit card is rejected because I keep buying stuff I don’t need.  Oh, no!  I’m trying to do something without admitting I have no idea how to do it.  Oh, no!  I’m hiking muddy terrain in spikey heels so I’m about to fall on my face.  Oh, no! This misunderstanding is going on forever because I keep talking over you when you try to explain.  Oh, no! I had to close the book that wasn’t funny.

My fiction is not nonfiction.  Because I feel I’m being particularly hard on other Catholic authors, I want to point out without naming names that there are several whose works I love.  They even include powerful messages.  But they all write nonfiction, which is where life-changing words belong.  Sometimes I wish those authors would pen some fiction for when I’m in the mood for simple entertainment.  I cannot ask that without asking why I don’t write nonfiction.  Please keep doing what you love.

I’ll keep doing what I love, too, even if it’s wrong.  Because in the end, I’m the only one who has to look at the mountains I’m painting.

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