The first week of NaNoWriMo has passed and we’re onto day eight. The first six days involved me being unimpressed by my plot – or, lack of one – and the only thing keeping the story rolling on were conversations that would need to be deleted upon settling on a plot. They were, and still are, beautiful fluff.
So I sat down and I stopped writing for a moment, and I asked myself why I want to write a novel in the first place. Why, when the publishing industry is hard to get into? Why, when I’m only just starting university and don’t have the ‘qualifications’ of a writer? Why, when I spend time playing Sims and getting my Sim-self into the writing career and becoming a famous author, neglecting my real life stories?
Here’s my answer.
I want to write a novel that makes Christianity more accessible in mainstream fiction to young adults.
Koorong is a well-known Christian bookshop. There are many books for Christians of any age, and on pretty much any topic. But while there’s an abundance of books for my demographic, young adults who aren’t Christian won’t necessarily pop into a Christian bookstore and find something they’re interested in.
Because so much Christian fiction for women revolves around the Amish.
I don’t have anything against Amish people, but why is 90% of the fiction section in Koorong filled with images of bonnets and beards? Why are there so many Amish romances? Who decided that’s what young women want to read?
Okay, maybe one or two Amish romances would be okay. But how are there so many? Who’s writing all these books, and how are they thinking up new plots?
No shade toward people who like reading these books, I think it just highlights why Christian fiction isn’t popular in secular bookstores; because it isn’t relatable to the young adults of this society.
If I wasn’t a Christian but I was thinking about religion, my first instinct wouldn’t be to pick up an Amish romance. I’d be more inclined to read a book set in my society with young women as the protagonists working through the same questions or problems that I do.
When I was in high school, the books I was borrowing from the library were about teenagers in high school. Shocking, I know. Some were Christian, yes, and I was able to relate to young Christian protagonists going through similar things I did, but not all books I read were Christian. I read a few books about Muslim girls, for instance, and guess what: these books were in secular bookstores, while the Christian ones weren’t. And obviously the target audience is different, and the publishing companies are different, but I want to bridge the gap.
I want to write a Christian novel and publish it with a secular company and see it in a secular bookstore.
If a Young Adult novel includes a Christian character, they’re typically portrayed as holier-than-thou, mean, judgmental, and with an inability to have fun or relax. They’re generally too naïve and make friends with teachers. They’re used as a tool to highlight the protagonist’s fun disposition and bad reputation. They’re comical because no one likes them.
Okay, they’re not all that bad. But I can think of numerous popular books, or movies, with this high school Christian stereotype.
The novel I’m working on might have too much God for anyone to publish outside of Christian publishers, but I want to try.
I don’t want my book to say “we went to church” or “we said grace” and that’s that. I want to show how God is involved in all parts of life, whether you believe in Him or not.
I also think that religion and the universe and our purpose are all things young people think about. If this society can be interested in Buddhism or zodiac signs, why can’t they be interested in Jesus? I think novels should give young people more credit. Sure, many of us love reading romance, but that’s not all there is to life.
People want truth. They want freedom. And that’s what I want to write about.
You can disagree with me. You can say Christianity doesn’t have a place in secular fiction. You can say Koorong exists for a reason, and I shouldn’t delve outside of that. You can say, think, what you want; I’m still going to try.