April 20, 2011

Christian vs. Inspirational Fiction

I learned something today. And broke down and spent $5.99 to get a look at Writer's Market. There is a big difference between Christian Fiction, and Inspirational Fiction. Christian fiction has specific guidelines, for example, zero profanity. Not even the substitute words like "womp" or "darn". The ones you learn in elementary school and use to test the boundaries. Christian fiction romance does not contain explicit sex, (Chasing the Lion is okay there... although there are two characters who wished that was not true!), and a Christian worldview. Inspirational is more... edgy. God is there, and His biblical truths, but the characters are more "real". I hate to put it that way, because it sounds like I'm knocking Christian fiction, which I am NOT!!! So I'll say... Inspirational Fiction can be more transparent, with characters like me, who can politely ask a guest in my home not to use the GD word but the next day get home to see an exploded washing machine spewing water all over the sheet rock and utter that "thing that beaver's build" like I'm saying "Hello". Or characters like Valentina... who is the quintessential Pottopher's Wife only... on crack. Probably speed too. Of course in 89 A.D. it was Opium. (I have to stop there before I have to start flagging spoiler alerts, because that would be a bummer to rob readers of the force of nature that is Valentina and her and Jonathan's... disagreements.) I can say with all confidence, hopefully soon in a query letter, that Chasing the Lion is firmly in the Inspirational Fiction category.

Too many late nights/early mornings writing. And my most emotionally difficult chapters to date no less, so I feel a lot like Penny Tweedy after Secretariat won the second triple crown race. Do you rest, like everyone says, to recover and avoid burnout? Or... do you train hard, give it all you've got and don't let up till you made the finish line? I don't know, but one thing is for sure, I have to start sleeping more. Having Friday off is exciting, though like most holidays of significance, it breaks my heart the way people consider it just a day off of work. The only Good thing about "Good Friday" is that there was a Resurrection Sunday. I'd like to think I wouldn't have been one of the people screaming "Crucify him! Crucify him!", or that like Peter, I would have gotten scared and lied. Somehow I'm more forgiving of Judas than of Peter. Satan entered Judas to fulfill God's Providential will, but Peter didn't have the devil to blame his betrayal on. When I look back at seasons of my life, I could have as easily been any one of them. And sometimes, in the choices I make and the way I live when the things of the word intrude, selfishness and pride, I'm still them. I was stubborn enough to require an "advanced tutorial" (See bible salesman scene in the great film "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?"), just like Jonathan in Chasing the Lion, because God loved me too much to let me stay that way.

Jonathan is not me, Nessa is not me, I'd like to think Valentina and Caius are not me, but that is what I have loved so much about writing this book. I'm not any of them, and I'm all of them too. At times I feel that way about Judas, Peter, Paul, Sampson, Esther, Daniel, Jonah, Job, Moses, Abraham and honestly, a lot of times, Sara. I think that's part of the reason God let us see the heroes of the bible because at some point, they were all also epic fails. That's real. And there's nothing more real than epic fails turned around and redeemed by Jesus Christ. That's the hope I pray binds every word together in Chasing the Lion, otherwise it doesn't deserve to make it past my ink jet printer at home.

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