The trouble with that advice is that a lot of thrillers, supernatural suspense novels and tales of horror would never be written if we followed it. I've written about killers, genetic experiments, financial empires, supernatural powers, espionage, the Middle East and other topics of which I have no personal experience. If I only wrote about what I know, the list would include idiots, self-absorbed and spineless jerks, nutcases, liars, and false friends.
Okay, so I could write political novels. As we all know, Washington is full of all of those type of characters.
My friend and fellow author, Shelly Arkon, has lately been writing a great deal about matters of faith on her blog.
Shelly has spent the past few years studying both the Bible and the
Torah and has learned a great deal. While bloggers are often warned
about writing about matters of faith in a cheesy manner, Shelly's posts
are honest, from the heart and thought-provoking. I've done a lot of
thinking myself. I'm a Christian, and I've experienced a great deal in
my life that has confirmed my faith--but I still have more questions
than answers. I'm by no means an expert, but still I want to write
things that make people think and hopefully find a door opened to them
that they haven't seen before. So how to do it?
Fiction, mostly. In Chasing the Wind,
I write about characters who also have more questions than answers:
cynical FBI agents, an agnostic photojournalist, a Biblical
archaeologist who has faith but challenges it, and an atheist who is
called to be a prophet but still can't believe what's happening to him. I
put them in situations where they get pushed to their limits and their
faith (or lack of it) is tested. They witness miracles. They deal with
loss and rise above it. And they face many of the same questions I've
I always believed in God--but as the Bible says, even demons believe
in God. They know He exists. Believing is not the same as putting one's
faith in God. I wasn't able to do that completely for a long time. That
door opened for me twenty-two years ago, on a dark night in which I
felt more hopeless than I ever had. I went to bed that night, facing a
situation for which there seemed to be no resolution. I prayed, more
than I ever had before, and was still praying when I finally fell
asleep. I was awakened the next morning by what first seemed to be just a
ringing telephone, but in fact was God's answer to my urgent
prayers--the miracle I needed.
That miracle has led me to write my first work of nonfiction--a memoir that's (finally) almost finished, Riding Out the Storm. It's not easy to lay bare one's soul for all to see, as my close friend William Kendall discovered with his recent blog post.
But sometimes, we need to write about the things that make us most
vulnerable. Sometimes, as in William's case, it's a way to exorcise our
personal demons in order to be free of them. It took tremendous courage
for William to share the things he'd kept so private for so many years.
For some, like Shelly, it's a way to share our discoveries of
faith...and to provide a warning of what's ahead. For me, it's hopefully
a means to testify, to show others that anyone can--and will--change.
And that it really is darkest just before dawn.