In 2014, I began making noise that I was writing a novel. Support from those around me was encouraging. When I asked, my husband took up household chores and did his best to manage the kids. Words flew from my mind to my fingers with relative ease. I published that first book just before Christmas that year (I probably shouldn’t have, but that is another story), and I was on cloud nine because I had accomplished something that didn’t identify me as a wife or mother. I was Melissa Wardwell, Author.

That’s when the questions began.

“Are you writing your life story?”

“Will it be non-fiction?”

“Whose your publisher?”

The questions were endless, and some of them, I recall, made me a little angry.  I eventually stopped telling people and just kept wadding through this side gig of independently publishing stories God put on my heart. Then, one day, a dear friend asked most innocently, “Are you writing for tween girls? Our daughters need books like that from a Christian perspective.” She made a great point, but my pride was kicked again and I shamefully admit I took it wrong. I told her I would pray about it and walked away. 

After that, I began to ask God, “Why fiction?” The answer came in flashes of book titles that touched my heart, taught me how to parent, took me on an adventure, or opened my eyes to some Biblical truth that maybe I had missed. I found all of that in fiction, and it was in such a way that I didn’t even recall learning, seeing, or understanding those things. It was unthreatening and impacting. 

As a reader, fiction has become a lifeline of sorts for me. I have a plethora (I love that word) of choices, and I am rarely bored with what I read.  I can visit the Wild West in the middle of a wagon train for a couple of days, then jump forward in time to the shores of Dover during the years preceding World War 2 for a couple more days, and never once feel cheated by the content in my hands. Fiction has provided a means of escape that I stopped finding in television, so much so that I hardly watch it. 

As a writer, fiction has provided an outlet for me to tell stories of what God has done in my life and the lives of others. I try to shed light on those we don’t see often in fiction, though more and more are beginning to do the same thing now. And I think it is excellent. 

Writing fiction challenges me in ways I’d never been challenged. I have to research, talk to people, be more mindful of how things make me feel, put my mind in situations, and figure out how I would/could respond; it is a roller coaster, but I love every minute of it. I get to explore places I have never visited, like Savannah, Georgia, and learn about things – like symptoms of head trauma and the workings of the Irish Mob – and all because we have this wonderful thing called the internet. As a result, I craft a story around these things I learned and mesh them with Biblical lessons I have learned or lived through – like forgiving the unforgivable – to introduce the concept to a world that wouldn’t pick up a Christian self-help book. 

So, “Why Fiction?” 

Because for a brief moment, I can travel through time and discover amazing people while never leaving the confines of home. Because of Fiction, I can escape the world’s noise for a few hours a day and feel no shame for neglecting my duties. 

So, why do you read fiction? (Christian or otherwise)

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