Yesterday, I heard an interview with Anne Rice. Her change of career path is a familiar story to anyone who reads books. From creating a world filled with the darkness of the soul, Anne moved, almost on a dime, to writing books with a strong Christian theme. Her work now celebrates light and goodness.
Her explanation is simple. She was praying and was overcome with the conviction she should be using her talent for God. Those were convicting words for me. Not the first time I've been convicted, though. Since I started writing romance, I've wondered if it was the right place for a woman who professes to be a Christian (though a terribly flawed one).
I've justified myself for a long time. I truly believe romance, for all the earthy content, is the most moral of all genre literature. For all the trying to "expand" the genre, romance is still the place where the stories end with marriage, children, forever. A pretty good thing to promote, I think.
Yet, it's gotten harder over the years to write like I did at first. Like all newbies, I modeled my writing after the writers I admire: Kathleen Woodiwiss, Dorothy Garlock, Julie Garwood. Their books were full of "earthiness," so mine were too, though not as well-done. I've tried to grow as a writer, to become more sophisticated and nuanced. It's hard to work, though, when it seems all anybody wants are "hotter" stories. And even though I've gone along to a degree, it's not comfortable. And I'm left with questions.
Do I continue to write in the secular vein or do I take my mother's advice and start writing "Christian" books? I know what that term means, but I'm not sure I like it. It feels exclusionary. Of course, Christians are told to be in the world but not part of the world. And if we are "in the world," aren't we experiencing exactly the same things as non-Christians? Shouldn't Christian writers be exploring those things? Even when it's not pretty?
So can a Christian woman write traditional romance, sex and all, and remain constant in her faith? Is there a line between traditional romances and those where you have to use the "words" and get them in the sack by page 20, sometimes three or four at a time? Or is romance just as "tacky" (as most romance writers have been told from time to time) as erotic works? Most important, what does God think? My aunt, the best Christian example I've ever known, once told my mother that the Bible has as much lust and sex than romance books. Seems like God isn't worried about exploring the earthier side of life.
Can you tell I'm still self-justifying?