I had a Sunday off for a change. Due to some minor surgery from earlier in the week, I stayed home to continue my recuperation. I had a lovely morning--relaxed and reflective.
I had a list of things to contemplate and consider. My marriage, being one - not that I am having difficulties, but I am always looking for what I can do to make it even better. Another was my Sunday School class. For those of you who don't know, every Sunday I attempt to teach the 16/17 year-old youth a lesson. I use the word attempt, because often, no matter how much preparation I put in, the class gets away from me. Another item I considered was one of my children. She has some life decisions pending and I was wondering how best to help her in that endeavor. And lastly, I was thinking about my writing. And that's what I want to blog about today.
In the last few days I have been involved in an online discussion group about LDS Fiction. (That's an entirely different post) But that discussion has made me take another look at my own work and what I hope to accomplish and why. Not too, too long ago, I was involved in an online workshop with the author Jason F.Wright (Christmas Jars, The Wednesday Letters) and he asked during that workshop what I hoped my writing would do. The obvious answer is to influence someone for good. But what I hope to accomplish and why I want to accomplish that often differ.
Today I took a look at why I wanted my work to be successful. And I'm not talking New York Times bestseller list--although if that would happen I wouldn't complain. But why is it that I keep writing and want others to read and like my work. The simple reason I keep writing is because it's FUN! I've often told my husband that it's a lot like playing dolls (and I was a big barbie doll fan when I was little). I get to create worlds and situations and characters. And truthfully, when you are a writer, those characters are as well known to you as your next door neighbor. In fact, sometimes you know them better than your next door neighbor. And of course, in some cases - they are your next door neighbor. ;)
But as I contemplated why I wanted my work to be successful, I came up with three reasons. The first, was to help my husband out financially If I could make some kind of money being a writer, then some of the pressure on him to provide for us presently and in the future would be relieved. Now, I realistically know that I'm not going to be able to make a huge contribution to the Talley Family coffers, but I would like to feel that I am contributing something other than labor.
The second reason is that it is incredibly validating in a number of ways. First, when people read my work and like it, then I feel like I am good at something. I have created something of value--I have some talent. Secondly, when people like my characters, want to root for them, get involved in the decisions they've made, even want them to make different choices, it is a validation of my creation. It's a bit like taking pride in the accomplishments of your children. I once read that when a writer creates a character, there is always a bit of the author in that character. It makes sense. So when people like my characters, they like me, even if it's just a very small part of me. And thirdly, and this kind of relates back to the first, if readers become involved with my characters, then I have created a world and people and situations that are interesting. Therefore, vicariously I must be an interesting person.
The third reason I wanted to find some success as a writer was to be a missionary. I do not, as a rule, write religious material. But my faith is an integral part of my life. I hope that the beliefs and values I hold dear are reflected in my work. And I would hope that if I meet a measure of success, that I will have opportunity to talk to people about my faith. For those of you who do not know, I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). And if there is anything that defines a Mormon, it's missionary work. We as a people are anxious to share what we know about Jesus Christ, about His love, His mission, His atoning sacrifice. I would hope that through my work, someone might ask a question or two. I would hope that someone might come to me and ask about faith, about repentance, about my beliefs in a life beyond this, about the eternal nature of families. I don't have grand visions of converting the world. But I do have hope that if given the chance to share, I might be able to influence someone for good. I would hope that I might be able to share the love that I feel from Jesus Christ with others, and perhaps help make their load a little lighter.
So when I say that I was contemplating and considering things this morning, what I really was doing was praying. And in that prayer I asked about my writing and talked with my Father in Heaven about what I would like to accomplish and why. And when I spoke of wanting to be a missionary, I had the distinct impression, "What's holding you back, April. You have a blog. People read it. More people will read it. It's time now to start being that missionary." Answers do come when we pray. And sometimes those answers are to step a bit out of our comfort zone, show the God of heaven and earth that we mean what we say.
So if any of you have questions, please ask. I really do want to share what I think the answers are. Ultimately, whoever asks has to determine if what I say is really an answer.
But, as I learned today...I don't have to be a successful writer to start sharing.