|Posted by Susan McGeown on 16 May, 2010 at 16:45|
I didn’t set out to be categorized as a Christian fiction author. In fact,when pressed to admit it, I don’t really enjoy reading Christian fiction that much so why would I want to be associated with it? Christian fiction, in case you don’t know, is fiction writing which promotes the Christian faith and its tenants. Even more importantly for me, Christian fiction almost always follows the guidelines set down by Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). “In most instances, those guidelines are very conservative. The CBA wants “chaste relationships…the emotional side of love without the physical. Some of the guidelines include the heroine never appearing in her nightgown outside of the bedroom, no profanity or even 'substitute’ words such as “shuck” “heck” and “darn.” They want little or no reference to aparticular denomination, divorce is a no-no, sensuality is very limited and “unless it’s something the characters struggle with” must be done sparsely and very tactfully. Drinking, dancing, and other controversial subjects such as water –and Spirit- baptism, women preachers, and so on are also frowned upon. Issues such as abuse and domestic violence are usually only ‘hinted at’ and if delved into to any degree, must be handled with tremendous care.[i]”
Based on those guidelines, I’m not so sure the Bible would qualify …
My Christianity is as integral apart of me as my hazel eyes, my brown hair, my passionate need to organize, my joy of teaching and my rather bizarre ability to remember phone numbers more easily than a person’s first name. For me, being a Christian is not an aspect that you take out, like you would a pair of glasses; sometimes you need it and sometimes you don’t. In reality, my faith is more important than any other aspect of who Susan Lee McGeown is. It was a conscious choice I made when I was only eight years old and has literally been the driving force, the directional lamp, and the primary purpose of everything I’ve done since. I’d like to think that it affects everything I do and so, consequently, it might be accurate to call me a Christian shopper, a Christian driver, a Christian cook,a Christian tax payer, a Christian knitter …
When I graduated from college (so long ago that two of the schools I attended have actually changed their names), I had no desire to teach in a Christian school. I didn’t want to work in the insular world of Christian academia where textbooks and curriculum were chosen not so much for their quality and accuracy but for the author’s spiritual caliber. You see, I didn’t need to be in a Christian school in order to be a Christian teacher. In public school, I regularly shared my faith and my morals and invited my students to do the same, with stunningly positive results. We had guest speakers that spoke of Passover and Hanukkah (potato pancakes and chocolate gelt!), Dwali (I met my British mother in law for the first time with both my hands decorated with intricate henna designs), and Christmas and Easter (my childhood Sunday school teacher came in and told the stories with felt figures). Do you think I made God smile in my thirteen year career as a public school teacher? I think I did.
When writing surfaced as a passion in my life (after babies), I did not embark on the path with the intention of becoming a Christian author anymore than I had intentions of becoming a Christian teacher or a Christian mother or a Christian wife. I just am all those things. I can’t … not be. What I set out to be was a writer, plain and simple. Mind you, I wanted to be an excellent one; a respected one. And I knew for certain that it was going to be a never ending goal. Now the fact that I believe that my stories –the ideas and the skills to write them - are gifts from God certainly is reflected in the style in which I write. How could it not be? And again, my only goal is to make God smile with what I produce.
I have a new favorite Bible verse. It’s found in Ephesians, chapter three, verse twenty. “Now glory be to God. By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we could ever dare hope or ask.[ii]” That’s the essence of what I believe being a Christian is all about. It’s God’s power, working within us, producing results that are so amazing it never even occurred to us to ask for them.
I’ve trusted God to help me be the very best I can be whether I’m an elementary school teacher, a mom, a wife, a friend, a sister, or a daughter. And I’ll trust Him to continue to help and guide me now that I’m an women’s fiction author.
[i]Christian Fiction or Inspirational? What’sThe Difference and Where to Market it. ByPamela S. Thibodeaux http://www.fundsforwriters.com/christianfiction.htm
[ii]Ephesians 3:20, New Living Translation,Tyndale House Publishers