I will be celebrating my 75th birthday in June, and two question people always ask me are how long I’ve been writing, and why I write. I’m not sure about “writing”, but I’ve been telling stories since I was five years old. At least that’s my first memory. It seems that reading and writing went hand in hand for me. As for why, I write because God laid it on my heart that I could share His message of love through my words.
I learned to read early and when I was hospitalized the summer after my fifth birthday with what they diagnosed as viral meningitis, books were my only companion while in isolation. After four spinal taps and lots of prayer, the symptoms and the disease itself disappeared, and I went home. That fall I went to kindergarten and was already able to read simple picture books on my own. Soon after that my mother got me my first library card, and once a week we made the trip to check-out books.
While many readers do so for entertainment, others do it for escape. Reading and writing soon became my way of escaping the things happening in my family. My stories had perfect parents and perfect children. My paper dolls were my family, and I lived a happy life through them and shut out the world around me.
After my parents’ very messy divorce when I was ten, writing in a diary helped me cope with the disruptions including my mother’s suicide attempt, an abusive step-father, and living with my grandparents. The Lord came into my life at age nine, and my faith became the anchor that held me steady through many stormy episodes. I set goals for myself and persevered to reach them with full confidence that God would help me accomplish them.
We all bring different backgrounds and experiences to our writing. Some are even more dysfunctional than mine and some are completely happy and free of turmoil. Whatever our situations were and are in life, we are called to write the stories God lays on our hearts. Sometimes those stories are flights of fantasy to take us to another world of the future. Others take us back to Biblical times to give a glimpse of what life may have been like in ancient days. Still more just take us back to another time in history to show us how our forefathers struggled with hardships and made a way for themselves. So many times they faced some of the same problems that we as Christians face today. Separation from God, an unforgiving spirit, running from God’s will for our life, blaming God for disappointments and failures faced them just as we face them today.
One thing we can learn from historicals is that God never changes. He took them through the rough times and brought them to the other side just as He does us today. Then in contemporary writing we see God’s hand at work in the lives of our characters and know that He will never fail us.
That’s the message our readers need to see and hear. The Jesus who performed miracles in Galilee, brought people to America, revealed himself to people of all nations, and carried the burdens of His children throughout history is the same Jesus who wraps His arms around us and carries us through the fires of adversity to become stronger and closer to Him.
It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been writing. What matters is the truth we bring to our writing. We can learn the skills, the rules, and the mechanics of writing, but none of that matters if the core message doesn’t point to the One who gave us life.
My stories have the theme of forgiveness and reconciliation. Whether the reconciliation is between God and man or man to man, hearts are touched and lives are changed. That's my purpose.
So, what is your goal or purpose in writing your stories? What do you want people to gain from your writing?