Why Christians Should Write Secular Fiction

WHY

Okay, first thing’s first: as a Christian, I don’t believe anything is secular. I feel God and have vibed out on evil in the past and wholly and fully understand both can be felt when you least expect it – even when it comes to literature.

So “secular” fiction is a bit of a misnomer for me. But alas, it’s still a thing, and to keep confusion at bay, I’ll be calling it as such throughout this post.

Secondly, I really don’t think anyone SHOULD do anything, so if you read this post and think, “No thanks,” then it’s all good in the hood, and I’ll still share my Cheetos with you.

Now, let’s get down to brass tax.

Before I became a Christian, writing was easy peasy. I just fired up my inner demons, threw the words they inspired on the page and called it art.

After becoming a Christian, I started to take issue with this process, namely the inner demons part because I suddenly (and luckily) found that I no longer had any. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still human, but the the little thoughts that used to badger me and tear me down were gone, and frankly, I had made those bad boys my friends.

So what’s a Christian gal to do? Keep on keeping on.

Listen, I know I can still write. And I know there’s a fire burning in my belly. But now it’s a matter of using that fire to bring others into the light instead of letting it devour my soul in smoke.

Really, when you think about it, it’s not a bad trade off.

It’s also why I choose to write secular fiction over Christian fiction.

There is a whole audience out there struggling, my friends. There’s a whole segment of our human population that needs someone to send them down a little miracle and make the shitty existence of every day living worth SOMETHING. As a Christian and an author, I intend to do just that.

The way I figure it, you can’t heal a broken heart with rainbows and unicorns. You can’t go up to someone who’s hurting, actually decomposing from the inside out and say, “Isn’t the world such a beautifully golden and God-filled place,” and then start twirling on a hillside a la Maria from the Sound of Music.

People generally don’t like that.

And I mean you may feel like twirling until your wooden clogs go flying off your feet, but remember when you didn’t feel that way? Remember when the only thing you thought about was the exact temperature you needed to set the oven before sticking your head in? 

Look, I’m not trying to be graphic here. I’m trying to be real. There’s nothing wrong with truth even when the truth is a dark and ugly thing. Because truth gives birth to light.

And fortunately, we all have the ultimate guide when it comes to writing this way. It’s called the Bible.

The Bible doesn’t sugar coat the reality of this world. The Bible is up front and in your face when it comes to sin and how it can slowly and methodically deteriorate everything in its path. And I appreciate the Bible for its honesty.

If it wasn’t so darn honest, I wouldn’t believe a lick of it.

So this is why I’m a Christian and write secular fiction. I want to be honest, transparent, and let the world know – the hurting, crying, miserable segment of it that feels like the sun is a burnt out star – that hope flickers through my words, through my waterfall of pages.

It is a light I’ve been given from God, and I love you to the point of setting your heart on fire.

*Inspiration for this post:  The Dilemma of Being a Christian Who Writes Fiction

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32 thoughts on “Why Christians Should Write Secular Fiction”

  1. Very good point, Erica. Much like my reasoning when I, a Christian, chose to teach in a public school.

    We all need light – believers or not 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for reading and totally getting the point of this, Jennifer. I think it would be a much easier life to surround ourselves with light and ignore the darkness. But easy never gets the tough stuff done. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been treated as though I should feel guilty for writing “secular” fiction rather than “Christian” fiction and I believe the same thing. There is not a split between the two. This is very helpful to me: just hearing this view from someone outside of myself. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re very welcome! I feel like writing Christian fiction is literally preaching to the choir. I’d rather spend my time with the down and out like Jesus and try my best to heal hearts. Glad you see this, too.

      If you haven’t, check out this post. Her words were really inspirational to me and covered the dilemma of the Christian secular fiction writer: http://www.njlindquist.com/the-dilemma-of-being-a-christian-who-writes-fiction/

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Honesty is good especially when you can be honest with yourself. When I am honest with myself I can be more honest with others. It’s very freeing. Working in a secular manner is needed today. Sounds cliche’ but we really need to learn to spread kindness and support to everyone around us. There are too many people out there in need of it. Our world is hurting because of it. You have a great way with words. Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Ericka,

    Aside from data or science driven articles, I think writing has an intrinsic bias to being other-worldly. I’ll check out the pingback when I have more time. I don’t see a conflict for writing “in” common culture while holding a part of yourself away from it…just as an atheist might write fantasy while working as a dentist.

    RR

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true, however, many Christian writers are judged for writing secular fiction (check out truejoy1986’s comment above), and my point is that Christians should be able to write what they feel compelled to write and not feel so boxed in, so to speak.

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      1. If you go back and read your comment “many Christian writers are judged.” Here is the problem…you aren’t being JUDGED by Christians. People who judge are generally masquerading as Christians.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Another good point, and one a lot of people don’t realize or clearly understand. I think if someone claims they’re a Christian, they suddenly become a representative of Christ regardless of the way they live and treat others.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. High five, Ericka!

    I think that Christian readers can sometimes lose sight of the fact that Christian Fiction (as a particular genre) is written for…well, for Christians. Nothing wrong with that, since it’s totally natural and right for many Christians to want to read Christiany stuff. It’s a part of the building up of Christian culture. But there are multitudes of people who aren’t a part of that culture who aren’t going to search for or pick up a ChristFic book–and they probably won’t even run into a whole lot of them by accident, since those books are purposely marketed to Christians. And by no means should any Christian limit his/her audience to only fellow Christians when he/she has something to say to much more of the world at large.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You totally get it, Nadine, and I appreciate that! Before becoming a Christian, I wouldn’t have looked twice at Christian fiction, or even a Christian person if I’m going to be honest. I was the type of person who needed a good book and a strong message I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We’re going to have to agree to disagree here, Ericka, but that’s nothing new, is it? Believe in God if you like, but the Bible? Written by a flashmob in a language that is now all but defunct, translated multiple and interpreted multiple times by generations of men (no women allowed) with axes to grind.

    My ex father in law was a man of the cloth, and even he was wary of the Bible and its dogmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoy how you broke down secular writing in a Christian form. I never connected the Bible and writing like that before and your statement made my eyes open. As a writer or any entertainer, they have to make the experience real. Keep up the hard work.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks so much for referencing my earlier post, Erika! I spent such a long time being told that I was too secular for Christian publishers and too Christian for secular publishers, when all I wanted was to connect with the readers out there who would like what I write. Thanks to Indie publishing, I can now do that.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This resonated with me. As a Christian with a fundamental upbringing, I have a lot to say in my novel (also my MFA thesis). Many of my Christian friends and former professors ask if they can read the manuscript and I am always very hesitant to even talk to them about it. The book is not written to them, or for them. I’m not writing for the Sunday School crowd. I’m writing to my generation, and that means diving deep into the darkness. No darkness, no light. I really liked your statement regarding the Bible. It’s in your face. That’s how I view my book. It’s in your face. It’s not for the stuffy readers or the feint-hearted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. High five, Justin! It’s great seeing a fellow Christian writer using his talents to change the hearts of those hurting in this world. We can only do that by embracing the truth of this world, as ugly as it can be sometimes. Thank you for visiting!

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  10. I appreciate your honesty. In fact, I’ve not made up my mind about where God wants me, but this article will definitely stick with me as I make the journey. Thanks so much for following God’s lead!

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    1. Such an important point, Heather, about where God wants you. Ultimately, we need to go wherever God leads us, and for me, I deeply feel that I can use my testimony and connection with people’s brutal realities to bring others closer to God. I pray that God speaks to you and helps you find exactly where you belong.

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  11. Hi, you don’t know me, but I’m a pretty new born-again Christian, and a fiction writer. Thank you for writing this because it totally spoke to me. I can’t see myself writing “Christian”fiction, I just wouldn’t even know where to begin, and I thought maybe this meant I should give up writing. It’s comforting to see that there are other writers who are Christian who prefer writing about the darkness and the light to a secular audience. Thank you again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very welcome, Veronica, and I’m so excited for you! You have the opportunity to bring strength and love to the people Christ needs us to build up. And I firmly believe we can use our writing gifts to bring light to the gritty truth of this world, not to create a “feel good” story but a life personified story that can change even the most bitter hearts. Stay well, friend, and much love for you and your journey! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi, Ericka:
    I definitely want to write secular fiction. How would I go about finding a publisher for this type of genre? Any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you.

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    1. Hi, Ivette! There are tons of publishers out there so I’d start by Googling the particular type of secular fiction your write (contemporary, women’s, literary, etc.). After that, I’d start looking up decently reviewed indie publishers. They’re most likely your best bet if you don’t have an agent and don’t have an issue assisting with the marketing aspect of your book. Lastly, stay away from vanity publishers. I’ve researched quite a few and it seems like (at least a majority) are pretty bad news. Hoped this helped and thanks for reading! 🙂

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  13. Writing fiction would be easier if I wasn’t a Christian. I’d just sit down and write whatever I wanted. No problem. But I am a Christian. And it’s frequently been a problem.

    That which is commonly known as Christian fiction—stories that are comfortable and safe for evangelical Christians to read—no overt sex or violence or swearing, solid hope-filled themes, Christian characters another Christian can relate to, plot-lines which teach something good for a person who is already a Christian. Likely to be found primarily in Christian bookstores.

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    1. I suppose it depends on whom you wish to write for: Christians who already understand or those who need an empathetic author to assist them in understanding. I think if Jesus were a writer, he’d do the latter, so I make it my duty to do the latter, too. Thanks for reading! Oh and I fixed my social media icons on the home page. Thanks for the heads up!

      Like

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