I belong to a critique group of secular writers. Much of their work belongs to the genres of the dark, urban thrillers or the chilling paranormal. When I joined several years ago, they admitted they hadn’t read much of sunshine and light like I was submitting.
Recently, a new member offered a simple story of an ancient hunter-gatherer society who actually had the morals to love and remain faithful to one spouse. The cynical realists felt he should include polygamy as part of their lifestyle, but the new guy stood up for his story. He wanted this fictional group to have a higher standard. Good for him!
As writers of fiction, we can create the characters we desire. The late Thomas Kinkade wanted to paint beauty. He held true to his goal in spite of the “experts” who sneered at his works of light. It wasn’t “art” as far as they were concerned. No, Picasso's style of anguished, distorted characters is more to their liking.
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I went to Kinkade's website to learn a little more. He “invested his all” in his work. He painted “straight from the heart.” Art was a form of ministry, and he gave credit to God for his talent. His mission: “to bring peace and joy into the lives of all” who viewed his art.
Yet the three critical quotes I read on a Wikipedia site came from “experts,” all of whom were either anti-Christian or appeared non-religious. “A kitchmaster.” “A bunch of garish cottage paintings.” And, from this author's perspective, the wordy, “Maudlin, sickeningly sentimental vision of a world where everything is as soothing as a warm cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows on a cold December day.”
So why do millions love his work? Because they're as soothing as hot chocolate with marshmallows! I believe those paintings stir something in the average human soul. The desire for comfort, for home, for life to be savored. And that's a lofty and appropriate objective for Christian authors.
Are you told your writing isn’t dark enough? Not filled with angst from beginning to end? If your characters are goody-goody with no struggle ever entering the story, then your critics may have a point. But most of us drive our characters—Christians or not—to overcome something. A fatal flaw, a difficult life situation, conflict with another character.
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My favorite piece of Kinkade’s is titled “Perseverance.” It depicts a boat in a rough ocean, struggling in a storm.A golden glow is breaking through the clouds. The message is clear. “Hold on. The storm is almost over.”
Readers want a similar hope. As a writer, I want to inspire joy in our Savior and Creator. I want to offer hope through my stories like Kinkade did through his art. "Hold on to Jesus. Life's battles will end in victory!"
Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She is currently working on a middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister.
Linda had always figured she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to learning the craft.
A wife, mother of three, grandmother to seven, Linda regales the youngest grandchildren with “Nona Stories,” tales of her childhood. Maybe one day those stories will be in picture books!
Where Linda can be found on the web: