Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
Normally, I don't like to talk too much about religion on my blog, because everyone is different and I don't want anyone to feel left out. But recently something came to my attention that I simply cannot ignore, because I feel very strongly about it.
I grew up in a church that, while it seemed very open in some ways, was also very close minded. Particularly when it came to anything outside of a certain scope. As a child (and now as an adult) I loved fantasy, outlandish stories, dark and gritty places where my imagination could run wild...and unfortunately, these things were on the "no no" list; I suppose you could say they were scorned, though in a less than upfront way that is somehow more detrimental than if someone had just said "no".
For a long time, I wrestled with this. I wrestled with God. I blamed God for making me a certain way, and then telling me that it wasn't okay -- or that it was only okay in one context that left out most of what I liked, and made what I did like too preachy for my tastes. I was in a dark place for a long time, because there's little worse than being told again and again that you are wrong -- that there's something wrong with you. I wrote "safe" stories for a long while, and when I had ideas for more outlandish stories, I either wrote them in the "safest" way possible, or I didn't write them at all (part of why I have so many rewrites in the works). It wasn't until I became older that I realized it wasn't God saying that I was wrong: it was people.
Typically, people have the best of intentions, but sometimes those intentions lead to harm. I now understand that the people I was surrounded with didn't mean any harm, and that they tried their best and cared about me, but unfortunately harm was done. Sometimes being loving enough to be open minded -- to listen to someone's opinion, and to accept that not everyone is the same, and that not everyone has the same limitations -- is far harder than taking the route we may be used to, but I've learned that it is worth it. We can learn a lot from one another, if we practice our skill to listen. And somewhere in learning, we realize that our different strengths and weaknesses really make us stronger for one another, and able to tackle different challenges.
It's taken me a long time to heal from this part of my past, and there are still days that I struggle with it, but I'm glad that now I can be who I am without feeling like I should hold back. It's been a long road, and I stumble just like everyone else, but in trying our best we move forward.
That being said, I joined a writer's guild some time ago, and happened across a thread talking about Christians and Fantasy writing, and I realized that, even now, there can still be plenty of scorn, or the inclination to look down your nose. In the thread, there were plenty of writers who were ashamed that they wrote fantasy, who were apologizing for it, who insisted that they were Christian even though they liked Fantasy (as if they couldn't have both), who struggled over whether their Fantasy was religious enough, or who felt like their works were lesser than; in these words, I saw myself from years ago. So that's why I wanted to write this blog post, to encourage those who are in the boat I've worked so hard to leap out of.
We all have a story to tell, and each story is unique and important. They may be different, even outlandish, but they can all be used in good ways -- to help, encourage, entertain, provoke reflection, etc. We were each born with our own unique talents and interests, and that's something to celebrate. The world needs all kinds of stories, and the story that is burning in your heart is a story that only you can tell -- whether it has magic, Wizards, dragons, vampires, or any other manner of strange creature or thing; whether it is obviously Christian-inspired or whether you only see hints of your personal beliefs leak through the pages, as is bound to happen with any story.
Let me encourage you to write your story. It really is okay, and there's no need to feel like you have to put your story into a box labeled "Christian". If God's given you a story to tell, then trust that He knows what He's doing, and that you're the right person to tell it; you don't need anyone else's approval. Does your story need to be set in an alternate world? Then write it. Do you need to address "darker" issues? Then write it. Do you need to include various creatures of myth? Then write it. Does your story need to be less cookie-cutter "Christian", and more gritty and realistic? Then write it. If the opposite is true, then write that, too. Does your main male character need to fall in love with another guy? Then write it.
Write what you need to write.
Write the story you were given, and don't worry. Don't apologize for being who you are; you are that way for a reason. Celebrate who you are instead -- your passions, your interests, and your gifts. You can make a beautiful impact on the world just by being your amazing, lovely self.