What does it mean to be a Christian writer? Your views, please by Nikki Salt
What does it mean to be a Christian writer? I mean, should you be able to tell from my writing that I am a Christian? Does it matter? Are some genres more important than others in terms of writing from a Christian perspective and anyway, what does ‘writing from a Christian perspective’ actually mean?
Personally, I think whatever one’s genre this question is valid but I doubt that any individual’s definition would be necessarily the same as my own and I would love to hear your own opinions.
For me as a writer for children, I believe I have a responsibility to my young readers. Children are very impressionable and I am careful not to preach or lay any of my strong views on their vulnerable shoulders. My aim is to fill young heads with delight, wonder, challenge their imagination, encourage them to step into adventures that will take them through an assortment of emotions but always leave them with a feeling of fulfilment and hope.
|I have a responsibility to young readers|
In a world where there is so much pressure on our children, the last thing I want to do is manipulate, trick or lead a young person into anything that causes self-doubt or a sense of worthlessness. In fact, my aim is to promote completely the opposite.
My son, a typical eleven-year-old, has struggled with his first term at secondary school. He, as well as many of his peers, are reeling with the shock of being pulled from the relative safety of primary school and being plunged into the rigours of an enormous institution stuffed with hormones and worldly temptations. He goes to a much-respected Church of England school with Christian foundations yet I am aware of how much temptation there is open to my easily influenced young son. Suddenly he has to face teenagers a lot older than himself, evidence of bullying (do not deceive yourselves - it is in every school), subject material becomes more evocative and the dangers of online are truly terrifying. A female classmate fell into her mother’s arms crying with tales of a girl raped and murdered by an online stalker – something she learned in her online safety class.
I agree we need to prepare our young people for the dangers and pitfalls of life and the reality of adulthood but I worry that our children know too much too quickly. What is the balance? Does the onslaught of social media mean it is imperative our children grow up so quickly? I acknowledge I have to be pragmatic but ultimately, I believe, childhood should be a place of safety. A place where children don’t have to know all the gory details of a corrupt world. A place where a child can experience and see the good of a beautiful world. As a parent, I feel a huge responsibility. However, as a writer, I also feel this responsibility. Not to regale children with terrible tales of real-life but to provide children with a break from real life. A safe place they can lose themselves in an adventure, a place where they can identify with at least one of the characters. A place where they can laugh, where they can cry but most importantly a place where they can safely be themselves and find self-worth in who they are.
So, what does being a Christian writer for children mean for me? I think it means I write from a place deep inside of me. From a place of profound faith that does not preach, does not spread evil, does not shock or terrify. Ultimately, I write with love. Am I being gullible? Naïve? Am I doing our children a disservice? I’d love to hear your views.