Friday, July 5, 2013

Middle Ground

I recently participated in an author chat and shared that I was making a fundamental shift in my life, one that included making a change in my writing.  I went on to share that I was no longer writing graphic romance but was turning to inspirational romance.  It was at that exactly moment I'm certain the gasps were audible although the chat was hosted via an online forum. Seriously, I could sense people taking a step back.  "Great, so you're going to start preaching," one person stated.  "Be careful," another cautioned.  "That might be alright as long as you don't push your beliefs on anyone," a third offered.  To say the least, the comments were interesting.

But even more interesting was an email I received the day after the chat ended.  "Just aim for middle ground and you'll be alright."  While I appreciate the sentiment and agree the tip might work for someone else, middle ground is the last place I aim to be in any area of my life. 

I really don't want to be caught on middle ground as a person, mother, wife, daughter, friend, or writer.  If I aim to create characters that just hold middle ground in their lives, what would be the point?  Who wants to read about a hero who defies death only to get the stranded puppy halfway home?  No offense, but wouldn’t that be like going out for ice cream and just getting a cake cone?

The way I see it, inspirational fiction doesn't exist to preach or push morals.  In fact, it serves to do quite the opposite--to show possibility, introduce values that might not be found in other genres and to do so in a manner that doesn't highlight physical intimacy as the only glue in a storyline.  It relies on emotional sincerity and a measure of faith to illustrate there's more to this life than just living and dying.  In most cases, inspirational fiction pulls from real life struggles and models healthy conflict resolution.

In Hope 22, my debut inspirational release coming later this fall, readers will meet Brody Jackson.  Brody is a man struggling with loss and grief.  As a result, he's burdened with the overwhelming desire to make sure every step he takes in his life will honor those he's lost.  As you can imagine, that's no small task.  Nobody's perfect.  But Brody's wise enough to know he can't go it alone.  Contrast that with Whitney Roth, a self-made superstar who doesn't need anyone.  In fact, the more people offer to help Whitney, the farther she retreats.  Whitney battles low self-esteem set against the backdrop of terrific success and turns to food for comfort.  Massive amounts of food Brody quickly discovers.

I'll leave it to you to decide if you think I preach or force-feed morals.  I already know the answer ;)

A meaningful life is not being popular, it's not being rich, highly educated or perfect.  It's about being real, being humble, and being able to share ourselves and touch the lives of others.  --Unknown

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