I had a book launch for "The Risky Way Home" at our local library on Wednesday evening. We sold quite a few books which made me very happy. We've also launched our new website, which you'll find in my blog toolbar as usual, but its address is now www.appleleafbooks.com The info in it is basically the same but it is now hopefully much more user friendly and we'll get some new traffic. I'd like to thank Chris Weir of Weir Marketing for his thoroughly professional and top notch job.
I thought I'd spend a few posts blogging some of things I discussed at my launch. When I was much younger, I really enjoyed writing and reading fiction but never thought of it as a future occupation or calling. I thought of it more as self-indulgence. I even felt guilty for not spending my time doing other things that I thought were more important.
Even though I loved it, I went through a phase of wondering whether fiction was very important. Although feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, I took a few negative comments to heart. "People are starving and dying all over the world, so the people who devote their lives to the helping ministries and occupations are doing a better job than people who just want to sit around writing fantasies." A few people even insinuated that I'm playing around with people's minds, making them discontent with their own lives because they get caught up in the world of pretend people. We've all heard people say, "I don't want to be a loser who just sits around reading novels all day." To me, that was casting aspersions on the writers of novels too.
So I tried to think of a more "acceptable" way to use a writing skill that might strike people as more "useful" or "helpful." Some included a newsletter of uplifting thoughts that I'd post on a bi-monthly basis, non-fiction, writing people's biographies for them, teaching creative writing. I began each of these with enthusiasm (and maybe they weren't bad) but always petered out. One day I'd spent a few hours working on an uplifting newsletter, then got tired of it and treated myself to work on a bit of fiction as relief. As soon as I picked up my train of thought on "The Risky Way Home," I found myself declaring aloud, "I LOVE THIS"
Well, they say we all have epiphanies throughout our lives. Those lucid moments when something becomes clear. That was one for me. When I said that, I sensed God's voice saying as clear as could be, "I KNOW!"
So I first decided not to get caught up in guilt trips, letting myself be sidetracked into doing things that I was told were better or nobler than what I really wanted to be doing. I love thinking of stories and playing around with words to give readers the illusion that they're really there. And I love giving my characters challenges to see how they'll act. Whatever we do, we need to work with an attitude that we're adding something of value to the world that wouldn't have been there if we hadn't provided it. Although millions of fictions have been written, nobody else could have written "The Risky Way Home" or "Picking up the Pieces" or the "Quenarden" series but me.
Then I found an excellent interview that a certain author had with Mother Teresa. During their talk, he told her, "Sometimes when I consider all that you do here, I feel guilty for just frittering away my time writing." And Mother Teresa rebuked him. She said, "Don't ever talk that way again. In God's eyes your writing is every bit as important as what I do. They're different ways of blessing the world but equally valid. You have the potential to do so much good through your writing. Remember, whenever you pick up your pen you're a blessing."
Next time I blog, my Part 2 will describe how I found out that telling stories really is a special ministry in itself.