I don't know about you, but I've pondered this question before. I've wondered if my novel, a story and characters close to my heart is suitable for what's selling now. Or if choosing to write a story based solely on whether or not it's sellable is still glorifying God.
In my over 15 years of writing experience, I've learned a lot. (By the way, feel free to leave a comment on how YOUNG I look for having written this many years :D) Every story I've written has helped to find an answer to this question.
Can you write for God and still write for the market? Here are some angles I've had to consider along the way:
Not All Stories are Meant to Sell
I wrote a story several years back that was...special. It was close to my heart because of trials I was going through in my personal life. It was therapeutic for me to write it. Anyway, I took the next steps of going about getting it published. Queries and all. I also pitched it at conference. To an editor. Eek! She paged through the first scene, said it was off to a great start, gave me some pointers, and chatted with me. Then she said something like, "This story is really close to your heart, isn't it?" She could see it on my face, hear it in the way I spoke about this project. It was a passion.
But you know what? She didn't request the story. And I pitched it to other agents. They didn't request the story. And I queried it with no bites. NO ONE wanted this story. Maybe because it wasn't ready, maybe because of the content, I don't know. And that's okay. I don't really believe this story, as it was, was meant to sell. It was a story God used to help me get through a tough time and because of that, it was completely worth writing.
Sometimes You Have to Go With Your Heart (no matter WHAT happens)
Ready for another story? Okay, so when I FIRST started writing Christian fiction (super quick after I became a Christian), I got a story idea. It was a God thing for sure. He gave me this idea and it made me completely uncomfortable. I can't write a story like this! It was about a woman coming back to Christ after several terrible tragedies in her life. How in the world would I even know about that when I'd just become a Christian myself and had no experience? Besides, no one would want to read a story like this anyway.
So I decided not to write the story.
I went along, wrote another story I wanted to write. And another story. Something that made me comfortable. But God wouldn't leave me alone. I gave in and finally wrote the story He'd given me. It made me cry, and moved me. I had great feedback on it.
Sure, it wasn't my niche, but I HAD to write it. I believe it could make a great impact in others lives it ever sells. And I'm fine leaving that up to God, because I (finally) wrote the story I was meant to.
Don't Forget to Consider the Market
You want another story? Okay, twist my arm. After all these other stories I'd written, I wanted to write something fun. Something fresh. Something that current readers would love! Which meant trying to write for the market. That was my main goal with the last story I wrote.
I did get a spiritual thread in there, though that wasn't my first focus. The cool thing is that the story ended up ministering to me. And if it ministered to me, it might minister to others. I wrote it specifically for the market and I must have done something right because it finaled in the Genesis. However, I really feel like God was in it as well, and that a message came through.
What have I learned from all this? God is in everything. He may give you stories just for yourself, a kind of therapy. He may give you stories you never thought you'd want to write. But His hand is in it all.
I believe in writing stories that are on your heart. They're important for a reason, even if we may not know that reason right away.
I believe in following market trends. These are the people you're trying to reach.
Can the two go hand-in-hand? In my opinion yes. Not ALL stories are meant to be published. But the rest? When feeling led to write, you can still follow genre guidelines and tweak the plot to fit with the current market. You can still deliver a message and you can, through your voice, still show your passion and heart for the story while appealing to current readers.
How do you feel? Have you ever written a God-inspired story you weren't sure would fit into the current market? Do you believe you can write what's on you heart and write for the market at the same time?
Cindy is a Colorado native, living near
the mountains with her husband and three beautiful daughters. She writes
contemporary Christian romance, seeking to enrich lives with her stories of
faith, love, and a touch of humor.
To learn more about Cindy, visit her at her personal blog, www.cindyrwilson.com