Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Frivolity of Fiction? - Kara Isaac

Over the last few weeks my reading has held some pretty weighty topics - the war in Afghanistan, human trafficking, persecution in China and cancer. Every single book was brilliant in its own way. All made me look at the world differently and all left me confronted with a very real question. Is my writing too frivolous to be worthy?

The truth is that I don't write about wars, or terminal illness, or oppressive regimes, or slavery. Should I ever be published, I have no expectation that my book is going to change someone's life, let alone contribute to educating the reader as to various injustices in the world. My greatest wish is that someone gets to kick back for a few hours, enjoy the story and decides that it was $15.99 well spent.

I just write about ordinary people. They aren't freedom fighters, or missionaries, or dying. They have jobs and a roof over their heads and their worries are things like; Am I going to get fired? Is my heart going to get broken again? How did I get here?

Even the most avid of readers only buys a few books a year in the grand scheme of all that is out there. Do I really want to even try and compete with people who are writing books about things that matter?

And here I am conflicted. You see I like those books too. In a world that is hurting and broken sometimes, in my selfishness, I just want to curl up on the couch and read about a girl and a guy, and in the grand scheme of things their lives aren't hard, or complicated and if they'd just darn well tell each other how they really feel the story would be over by page 50, but they take the hard road and so it takes 300.

Because that is me. While there are people doing amazing things and changing the world, I have a job, and a mortgage, and I love my husband, and we sponsor children with World Vision, and we do groceries on Saturday mornings, and we buy fair trade when we can, and we spend more on takeaways in a night than some people earn in a week and then we recycle the containers.

And quite frankly I would be embarrassed if any of my writing ever found its way into the hands of someone in a war-torn, poverty stricken nation because the things that my characters spend 25 pages angsting over would be a luxury for them to even have to worry about.



  1. Hi Kara,
    You make some valid points. Like you, I'll never write about the heavy topics you are reading. If my books contain heavy subject matter, my characters will face it, but in the end, they will live happily ever after. I read fiction to escape my own day to day issues. I'm thinking I'm not alone.

    There is a place for all types of stories and there are readers for all of those stories. However, I wouldn't feel embarrassed if someone living in hard conditions read a book about luxuries. After all, if you are writing fiction, the book is supposed to give them a reprieve. Fiction is entertainment. If you've done your job as an author, your story will allow the reader to kick back and maybe, for a few moments, escape what they are going through. Your book may make them laugh or smile... those are simple things, but to some one facing grave hardships, it may be hard to come by. I would hope the entertainment would be good for them and maybe a blessing.

  2. Hi Kara,
    I'm with you. When I read I want to escape some of the harsh realities this world has to offer. I want to escape into a bit of adventure and romance, and always with a happy ending. So, guess what I write? Yes, the romance and adventure, but I do love an historical setting. I have wondered at times whether I should write about "things that matter" as well, but when it comes down to it, I want to entertain more than I want to educate. God can use us no matter which road we take. God bless. Amanda Deed.

  3. Hi Kara,

    You keep writing girl! We need the light-hearted fun and romance. We need a glimpse into the life we will possibly never have but love to imagine. We need, most of all, to kick back our heels and relax and chuckle. These things give us the strength to face the more difficult issues. So I say, forget the conflicts and the embarrassment. The world needs Christian writers, no matter the topic or the approach.

  4. I agree with the others, you keep writing. Not all people need the same thing at the same time. There is a time in life for one to kick back and enjoy a story for entertainment sake and still be encouraged in thier faith in a gentle way. While my own story has the hardship of a true-life massacre in India that set off the Indian independence from Britian, I can't read that sort of stuff all the time either. It would be too much emotion for me to carry. That's when I need something that's closer to home---a gentle romance, or a story about family with struggles closer to what I experience in my own life. Your fiction is not frivolous. KEEP ON WRITING. You have nothing to be ashamed of.

  5. Thank the Lord for variety! It would be so boring if we didn't have such a great spectrum of fiction. That's why we have imagination.

    Enjoy this New Year by continuing on, girl!