By Ali Cross
At a recent critique group meeting, we discussed the effect our values have on our writing. Two of us are writing young adult fiction for the national market and in so doing have found our characters caught up in the troubles of the world. It’s necessary for them to be there, to be challenged, tested and tried, as young adults are these days—but we also have a responsibility to our faith, to our beliefs and even to our God to not compromise our righteousness for the sake of selling a book.
In Psalms 119:80 we read, “Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.”
An LDS author who had published a best-selling book in the national market was once asked on a syndicated talk show if her religion had any bearing on the work she had written. To my dismay, this author replied that no, in fact, it had not.
If I should ever have the opportunity to be in a similar position, I hope I could respond that my religion had everything to do with my book. It is a fallacy to believe that as writers our religion holds no sway. Latter Day Saints are a mystery and a fascination to the world at large and people will always read what we write with greater attention to the proof of our faith.
We must write in a fashion that is in keeping with the covenants we have made, to the faith that we profess to hold. While in writing, as in our very lives, we find ourselves in the world, we must also hold ourselves apart from the world.
Such a mandate can be quite a challenge for us—our characters must similarly be in the world but not of the world. It is not true that in order to sell our books they must be sensational and titillating. I think that most people hunger for truth and righteousness, but they just don’t know where to find it, how to find it, or even how to recognize it once they do.
That’s where we, as Latter Day Saint writers, can be powerful instruments in God’s hands.
If we are prayerful in our craft, we may be blessed to create stories that are contemporary and immediate enough to reach that national market for which we strive, but that carry with them a truth and goodness that is so desperately needed in the world today.
It’s not easy, but we can do it. We must do it, if we wish to stand spotless before the throne of God. “O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee” (Psalms 25:20.)
Trust in the Lord, let Him be your partner as you write, and you will find a way to be true to yourself, to your faith and to your God—and still find success in your writing.