We Need Clean Reads in YA
This post is based off a Twitter thread I posted a few days ago. You can find that original thread here, and I encourage you to go read through it! This is a subject I am very passionate about, and so I wanted to talk more in depth about it today ---
Does what we write matter?
By this question, I don’t mean if our writing itself matters, but if what we write matters. The original spark for the Twitter thread was that I have read several books recently where the story is incredible and the author is clearly talented. Then comes the page (or in many cases, pages) where profanity, intense romance, and/or overall ungodly material appear.
Why do we think that these things are necessary to a great story? Many people will claim that I am being too narrow-minded. Books should be real, and raw, and gritty. Teens experience these things today, and our books should be relevant to today’s world.
Perhaps the reason they are relevant is because they are so heavily discussed. Everything has come out into the open in the last few years. Nothing is censored. Nothing is discreet. We are told to own our opinions and ideas. Embrace them. Stand up for them.
Honestly, the rest of the world seems to be doing a pretty good job of that. They find something they disagree with, and they speak out against it. Or, sometimes, they write about it. Now, it is our turn.
The way a struggle works is that two sides are both fighting. They are pushing against each other. There is opposition. And because of this opposition, one of two things happens –
1. The two sides are equally strong, and they are locked in place. Neither is able to gain any ground.
2. One side is stronger, and overpowers the other.
There is, however, a third thing that could happen. One side does not want to fight, and so they easily give up ground to their opponent.
This is how we should view the world as Christians. Of course, we should treat even our enemies with love, and so the image of two sides attempting to destroy each other is not what I want to paint. However, Satan is strong, and he has strong people who serve him (whether they known it or not). If we are not standing up for God, we are losing ground.
The world is a battlefield, and we should be winning souls for Christ.
Literature is a unique sort of battleground. Books today are all about statement, not story.
If I have to literally be afraid when I turn a page, because there might be something there, the joy of reading vanishes.
Some people might say we need to grow up… accept the world. But that is exactly the opposite of what God calls us to do. He doesn’t call us to accept the world, or be accepted by it. He was rejected by the world, and He even promised that if we followed Him passionately and whole-heartedly, we would be too.
I admit honestly that I have read (and finished) many books that were not 100% clean. I read a passage that included some form of ungodly content, but I overlooked it because it was “just one sentence” or “just one chapter”. The book was wonderful except for that part.
I wonder, though… Every time we say “it’s just one sentence”, aren’t we saying that it’s okay to sin as long as it’s small? First we say it’s “just one sentence”, and then it’s “just one chapter”, and then we accept entire books. Each time we let something slide, we lose a little more ground. We tell our consciences to accept a little more.
The YA market is such an important age category. Teenagers are literally the future. Their ideas and actions will define what happens in the years to come. As a young person myself, this is sobering. As a writer writing YA, it is incredibly sobering.
Let me now speak to all you other young writers (teens to twenties) for a moment. We are the next generation. What we do right now, today, changes tomorrow. It literally changes history. That might sound very dramatic, but it is true. You will probably not see something happen overnight, but the greatest changes in history never did. They started with a small step, and kept building.
Words are powerful. Writers, we hold a lot of power. This should not make us arrogant. In fact, it is scary, and we should be incredibly humbled. Everything we write communicates some kind of message.
I’d like to challenge you all… what message are you sharing?
We need more writers who are willing to stand up and say, “I serve God, and I’m not ashamed”.
We need clean reads in the general market. I have prayed a lot about my gifts and what God has planned for me. I’ve asked Him so many times to show me His plan. I’m the kind of person who likes directions. When I drive, I like to know exactly the route I’ll take. This has been a struggle when it comes to life, because God does not show us the entire route all at once. He promises that He’ll be a light to our feet. That light is focused on our feet, though. In other words, it illuminates a few steps at a time. He shows us the way as we walk.
Over time, as I’ve written more books and asked God about the purpose and plans for my gifts, I really feel that He has called me to write for the general market. There is this great gaping hole there, where we need clean reads.
Because I know that there are others out there right now who just want to read a great, inspiring story, worry-free. Those people might be reading this right now. It might be YOU! I have met so many such people through the writing/reading community, and I know they are out there.
We need clean reads.
We need fearless Christians.
We need more lights in literature. #lightsinlit
We need more writers to stand up and say –
I AM NOT ASHAMED.
Will you stand up? Will you stand apart? Will you stand with God?