Writing Goals for 2014

Since it’s a new year, it’s time for me to set out my writing goals.

2013 was unproductive for me. Most of it was dominated with whether or not I should write Christian speculative fiction. I originally planned to write secular kids lit, and to interact with the Christian scene as a fan only. Of course, being a writer means its hard to only be a fan. You always have ideas of your own. I had some serious ideas, too. I posted some of Welcome to Dead City here, and I also had about 30k words into a Christian cosmic horror story if you can believe it.

I have decided to go back to my original idea though, and plan this year to write secular kid’s fic. I have two series of chapter books that I’m sketching out even now, and I’d like to both redo Triune and get to the next books in that series.

The decision wasn’t an easy one. Part of it is because I don’t see Christian spec fic succeeding as a genre. There’s really no interest in it as opposed to Christian baptizing of secular geekdom. Yeah, certain types of it occasionally sell, like Anne Elizabeth Stengl’s books, or Ted Dekker, but it’s not contributing to a widening of the genre. It’s odd. Compared to thirty years ago, which is when I started reading Christian spec fic, we’ve seen an explosion in the acceptance of geek culture even by Christians. Yet it hasn’t translated to any organic Christian geekery. It seems all the Christian geeks do is criticize and consume secular works.

I don’t think this is bad in itself. I’d be a hypocrite if I did. But when the readers who are most likely to be the audience for Christian spec fic refuse to embrace it, I think it sends a message that you can’t ignore any more. It seems like the majority of geeky Christians are okay with secular culture and prefer it over Christian culture.

When you combine this with the needs of the small audience that does buy Christian spec fic, I think it makes for something I can’t do. They want Stengl and Donita Paul and Dekker and maybe a little Christian Twilight on the side. I can’t write that. I think Christian spec fic needs more than this; we need true hard SF, true fantasy of all kinds, and books that simply aren’t “girl in dress or armor” books. But what I think it needs and what the audience wants are two different things, and the scale tips on the side of the latter when it comes to making a book.

I think the recent sale of Marcher Lord Press was the final straw. I’m hoping it won’t change for the worse, but if the new owner’s cutting Hinterlands and Amish Vampires in Space loose, I’m doubting he’s going to be kind to even the minor risks ML used to take. It didn’t change my mind as opposed to confirm the path I was going to take already.

So I’ll be getting back to work. Time to roll up the sleeves and publish!

6 Comments on “Writing Goals for 2014”

  1. notleia says:

    Power to you. I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re right, that for all our hopes and enthusiasm, Christian spec fic will just end up with the same old Amish romances and Ted Dekker clones and twee daily devotions for women who put half-and-half in their coffee and the other book of twee daily devotions for women who like espresso.
    And excuse me while I blorf at the idea of Christian Twilight (Twilight was pretty heavily Mormon, anyway). Though “Angel Eyes” by Shannon Dittemore is just a few degrees off plumb to be Christian Twilight. The main character was nearly as whiny and useless as Bella, but the male lead was actually a decent dude and not a brooding creepazoid like Edward. And there was actually something going on besides awkward romance a good deal of the time (though that was often as awkward).

  2. bainespal says:

    But when the readers who are most likely to be the audience for Christian spec fic refuse to embrace it, I think it sends a message that you can’t ignore any more.

    I wanted to embrace it. I read and reviewed Curse Bearer and Bid the Gods Arise early in 2013, which took a lot of effort. I also reviewed a collection of speculative Christian poetry.

    The poetry review came about from a connection I made on the Anomaly forum. As small as Christian geekdom is, it is not entirely integrated. Just because a handful of Christian geeks like to talk about Doctor Who on a couple major blogs doesn’t mean that no Christians are interested in reading speculative fiction written by other Christians.

    The reasons that I don’t consume much Christian spec fic are the same reasons that I don’t accomplish many other goals. I’m unmotivated, and it takes me a long time to do anything.

    And money is an issue. I only have money because I graduated from high school and I had a big traditional graduation party and I have lots of relatives. It would be irresponsible of me to spend much of that money on personal consumption. My parents already have a Netflix account; so all things considered, it’s vastly easier for me just to watch Star Trek.

    It seems like the majority of geeky Christians are okay with secular culture and prefer it over Christian culture.

    I don’t know where I fit in to either Christian or secular culture, so I admit that the relationship between geekdom and Christian culture seems confusing and potentially awkward to me.

    But despite not consuming a ton of Christian spec fic, I’m addicted to the Internet community. I can’t stop compulsively checking Speculative Faith. That must mean something. (Maybe it means I should keep my mouth shut because I don’t have enough of a vested interest, but I guess I must be interested in the culture to some degree.)

  3. dmdutcher says:

    I don’t mean to single you out, Bainespal. It’s something I’ve been noticing in general for a while. It’s okay to like a community if you are currently unable to really get into it due to circumstance, and I don’t mean to say everyone has to be hardcore into Christian spec fic. But there are some serious issues. I’ll probably post them specifically.

  4. Well, this post makes me want to put more effort into writing fiction, since Christian speculative fiction would be the genre the things I wrote fall into.

    The main thing is that people want a good story. If more Christians could write something like The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia nowadays, people would read them. Though, I believe that a recent example of a popular Christian anime, very cleverly hidden, was Arpeggio of Blue Steel–I wrote a post on it; but would something like that count as Christian Speculative Fiction?

    • dmdutcher says:

      Is it explicitly Christian or is it us decoding it? If it’s the latter, no. Now you’ve interested me in Arpeggio. I saw your post but didn’t read it to avoid spoilers. I’ll have to watch it now.

      The Christian spec thing is complicated, man. It’s not only good stories, but a whole host of factors that limit it. It can’t hurt to write your novel just to get it out, though.

      • I’d say that Arpeggio of Blue Steel is implicitly Christian. Its nature takes a while to hit one, but once certain themes and prototypes become apparent, I doubt that one could argue that these were done by a pagan hand.

        That’s good advice about my novel. I’ll take it!

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