Every writer has a story. I love meeting other authors and hearing what led them to where they are today. Or, it’s more like I love listening to podcasts interviewing authors, because truth be told, I only know a few other authors. But, regardless of which way I come about hearing author’s stories, I love it. Because, no author’s journey is the same.
Did I always know I wanted to be an author? Not entirely. But, I did know that whether I ever published my work or not, I would always write stories. Not too long ago, my mother and I were talking about my writing, and she shared a story with me that I had never heard before. Apparently, when I was in Kindergarten, my teacher took her aside and told her that I had really good writing skills and that as parents, they should encourage me in my writing. At five years old, my first teacher pointed out the gift that was already at work. While I do believe that writing is absolutely a skill that has to be developed, I also know that writing is a God given gift. It is something that I hope to steward well, and thus, it is the reason I can’t not write.
Like most writers, I was an avid reader growing up. I absolutely loved books and could easily get lost in stories for hours on end. When I grew up a little bit and started reading more literature in high school, I became absolutely enthralled with not only story, but the symbolism, motifs, and themes interwoven within a story. In one of my AP classes, I remember a student asking our teacher, “Did the author really write this and think that this is a symbol of something else or are we just trying to craft meaning out of the story?” It was a good question and one that I couldn’t answer. Of course, my teacher was quick to make the argument that while not all symbolism may be the original intention of the author, most writing is not done without intentionality. Now, years later, an author myself, this would be my answer: I absolutely do believe that the author is intentional with his/her use of metaphors, motifs and symbols in the story. Our interpretation of what the author’s original intent, though, may be different, but it is not always wrong. Because, the truth of the matter is, we all interpret literature based on our own stories and experiences. It’s why we read stories. To make sense of our own lives. And, that’s what I think is the greatest truth and gift that writing has to offer us.
The book that made me want to become an author? In my Junior year of High School, I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. While a popular book, most people I talk to hate this book. I get it. It’s not my all-time favorite book, but it’s the book that turned the tides for me, so in a way, it has a very special place in my heart. Part of the Lost Generation, Fitzgerald’s work speaks to the corruption of the American Dream. It speaks to a group of people who have lost their moral compass, and are searching for happiness and meaning in all the wrong places. In the 1920’s, the American dream is ruined by money and pleasure, by power and man’s self-interest. As I read the book, I realized how the themes presented in the book completely contrasted the truths found in Scripture. I approached my teacher about it+she gave me the challenge to write about it. She had never had a student do so before. So, I did. It was the most rewarding paper I ever wrote, and I knew it wasn’t the last I would write on such a topic. I realized then that I wanted to become an author and finish what Fitzgerald could not write about.
In both my second book A Song for Somme and in the fourth book that I’m currently writing, my sole purpose has been to speak to this question: “Is man on quest for something that can never be found?” Yes, that’s a quote from A Song for Somme. It seems like a hopeless question, but the answer is hopeful. Man searches in all the wrong places to find fulfillment, but this fulfillment can be found: through Christ. Yet, we don’t always find this anthem in literature. As a Christian author, I want to bridge the gap. I believe, as an author with a biblical worldview, I have an opportunity, with the help of my Creator, to take man’s experience and point him towards the Greatest Story of all.
I recently read a book called A Hobbit, A Wardrobe and A Great War by Joseph Loconte. It speaks a great deal to Lewis’ conversion from atheism to Christianity. Before his conversion, Lewis believed that myth contained no objective truth to the world. It was Tolkien whose view on myth (that myths really don’t originate with man, but with God, as a means of communicating some portion of truth to the world), that led to Lewis’ conversion. Man’s imaginative invention is really his attempt to find that truth. While I don’t write mythopoeic tales, the idea is the same. Tolkien and Lewis used myth to bridge the gap between our world and a far greater world. They used story to help people understand a greater Truth. Whether you realize it or not, all of us are storytellers in some way. It’s why Jesus communicated through parables, to help people understand and make sense of what they were walking through, to shed light on what it means to follow Him.
When I write fiction, I choose to write about themes that are the most important aspect of our existence: forgiveness, hope, and the journey to finding true fulfillment in this life. I’m not writing for a certain group of people. I’m writing for people who all come from different walks, young and old, atheist and believer. In the same way various stories have had a deep impact in my faith or have shed light on something I didn’t once understand, I hope to do the same whenever I sit down to write.
Most of all, though, I love writing. I feel most alive when I am writing. It brings me the greatest joy to know that others have enjoyed the stories I write, as much as I did in writing them. As the years go by, I realize that I will always be an author. Even if I’m not always working on another novel, I will always write stories, even if it’s just for my future kids one day.
I’m so thankful for every teacher and professor who invested in my writing. I’m so thankful for other authors who took the leap of faith and wrote stories that have changed my life for the better. I’m so thankful that I live in a day and age where I have access to so many different books. I’m so thankful I decided to push fear aside and become an author. It’s truly been one of the greatest journeys. I can’t wait to see what unfolds next. Cheers to the chapters ahead!