Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Conundrum

I love using big words when appropriate. That and I can't make spell-check work on the word: dilema. dilemna. dilemma.
No idea.
To all you writers out there. Tell me you have a notebook or a board in which you write down your fleeting ideas and then put them up so you can use them later.
I have a wall. Granted, the wall also has pictures my son has drawn and photos of my little family, but those are just inspirational too. So on my wall are little post-its that I have to tape on because they never actually stick to walls you know, and I have about five ideas for books right now. And yes, it makes me crazy because sometimes I want to work on different ones at different times.
Last year, I came up with an idea for an Amish Fiction. I may have mentionned it before. I'm very good at talking about myself, you know. I know it quite well. And I'm crazy excited about it. But... on the last day of our vacation when I was working so hard on it, another idea popped into my head. A complex, and I hope intricately plotted YA dystopian.
I fully embrace my 'teenagerishness' (yes it's a word, I made it up) and will not bow my head in shame when I say that I looooove YA. I love the giddiness of first kisses and the struggles through hormones and feeling unimportant. Yes, I inhaled Twilight (yes, the writing could have been edited), Hunger Games, Blood Red Road... there is something ... fresh about them. Maybe it's because their characters are driven to hope?
So I began writing my dystopian.
It's almost done. It's sitting at 82,000 words and I need to figure out the ending (should there be a cliffhanger for a second? Do I write it as a trilogy as all teen novels are these days?) and I need to edit it before sending it to an editor (yeah, I'm paying) to make sure it's good enough.
It's edgy.
Some very bad things happen in it.
Real things.
I was told it was too edgy for Christian fiction (which is a whole other 'discussion' right there).
So, now what?
I can't... I can't soften it.
But I can't take God out of it either.

So now I have three choices.  Make it way less edgy, which I think will ruin the entire point of the story. The novel has rape (not graphic - it's eluded to), they live in a commune (very touchy subject for some reason), and the leader manipulates the village into thinking they should worship him (apparently very touchy subject as well).
Second choice: Make God ... softer. I've referred to Him as the Creator to whom the village prays to. I even drop a few bible verses into it, which the heroine later finds out are being pulled out of context (oh the discussions we could have about that!), to figure out how to make Him prevalent.
Third choice: not write it. Which is not possible. You are all familiar with that fire in your belly and you have to 'give birth' or it could get ugly..

So here's the issue.

I was given the gift of writing (yes that sounds vain). I have written numerous skits for my church - which I think were pretty awesome. I have written two books that were 'gently Christian'.  So... do I write it as I want to write it and try to convince the Christian publishers that they need it? Or do I write it with a more less-obvious slant and push the other markets to publish it. Hoping that when (not if - must stay positive) the book is published and people read it, perhaps they will say, 'oh! She's a believer!'. Or maybe I'll get fully slammed like authors usually tend to get.

Any writers out there wondering whether they should stick to the 'genre'? Or if they should just write what's written on their wall?

Jenn Kelly is an author! This is her 'creative wall'. Note the plaque for winning best playwright in Ontario and the card framed which is entitled, "Someday You Will Be a Writer". She is currently trying to be brilliant. You can read her webpage if you like, but seeing as how she hasn't written anything on it in awhile, there really isn't any point. Although she really should start doing book reviews because she is reading so much. She thinks you are all marvelous and wants you to never give up. Also? She has no idea how to spell 'conundrum' either. Nor how to use the spell check button. It just looks at her like she's an idiot.


  1. Jenn,thank you for this post. I love your writing. You are so . . . real! And I love your creativity wall! Yes, of course you must write this story!

  2. Jenn, write the story and if "christian" publishers turn it down, send it to mainstream publishers. There are lots of nice, ordinary, safe stories out there, but best sellers are usually the ones that test the boundaries. About your story being too harsh for the Christian market . . . Don't get me started. Very bad things happen in the real world and we Christians are part of that world.

  3. As always, Jenn, I love your writing! And I agree with Alice. Write the story how you feel it should be, then send it off to both Christian and mainstream in whatever order you think! Yes, it's a conundrum - but see, that's exactly how you spell it! So you knew that all the time, just like you know how this story should be written.

  4. Jenn, I agree with what everyone else has said. Stay true to yourself and write the story the way it comes to you. If it is His will for it to be published then the right door will open at the right time. And many of the small presses are prepared to look at stories that are different and outside the box. Our Aussie authors can tell you how they have enjoyed the freedom of writing and publishing stories that either don't fit into a specific genre or contain content that would push boundaries in the US market.

  5. Hi Jenn, yes, definitely, you must write the story you have to write. I know what you mean about some of our projects are too touchy for the Christian market, I've been in the same boat, but have decided not to be intimidated by those guidelines any longer. There are many self-publishing opportunites out there now, too. Be courageous and believe in your work. Blessings, Laura :)

  6. Go for it, Jenn. In the end, if it really does fall in the crack between Christian and mainstream--that's what self-publishing is for. (After the professional editing and proofreading, of course.) E-books make it so much easier.

  7. Hi Jenn,
    I know exactly what you're talking about as I feel so many of my books fit into that category. I wrote a blog post entitled "Pot Pourri Books" not long ago, which was my way of addressing what you're saying here.
    I think your book sounds fascinating and I'd hate to think you're snipping around and changing it just to fit a genre.

  8. You guys are so encouraging!!!! Thank you!!!! Eeee!!!!!