Rejection slips were tough but par for the course. What was to come was a painful penetrating barrage of attacks from people who were ostensibly my friends and were fellow Christians. They looked at me in the way that leaders of the Spanish Inquisition must have looked at Muslims, Jews, and heretics and said such things as – Are you doing this to glorify yourself or God? Was I writing what God had told me to write? Was I even called by God to write at all? Had I made writing and publication a god? If so, I was an idolater.
Did I want my will or God’s will. My impatience to be published appeared to some as rebellion against God since He is sovereign. If He wanted me to be published by now, I would be. Had God called me to something else and had I arrogantly disobeyed Him? Was I writing things that were sinful? For some, to treat in literature any life situation that was sinful (even if I showed its tragic results or someone overcoming it) was to write a book no Christian should write and no Christian should read.
At the same time, since I am a woman, one person said that I must be cautious not to make too strong a point theologically in my novels. If I did so, it could be considered a subtle form of sermon. For a woman to teach a man in religious matters was forbidden scripturally. Unless I could be certain my writing was to be read only by other women I was sinning if I did so. I could not be certain whether both sexes would read my books. Actually I had always hoped they would.
It appeared from all this that whether I wrote dirty books or Christian books I was in grave error. It was a “Catch 22” of the most profound sort. The underlying message seemed to be that I should give up writing all together unless I wrote children’s books. But even there they must be of the most innocuous sort and, thus, beneath the intelligence or interest of even the smallest child. I love children and have written and illustrated 2 books for them which I consider as good as any adult book I have ever written. I would never give a child less than my best.
I was told by this same person that if I treated a Christian character, they must be very nearly perfect or it would be a poor testimony. I got what she meant to a certain extent. However, I have used Christian characters in my books who are less than perfect, but come humbly to realize they are and go on to fight the good fight of faith. They battle with life as I have (and, incidently, as the Apostles did) and most of the saints.
Was I greedy for material possessions, seeking vainglory, taking out a back-handed form of vengeance on everybody who had rejected, discouraged, or trivialized me? Was I too focused on this life and not enough on heaven? The questions continued. Was I envious of others? First the interrogations were from others. Later I began to torture myself with more. – Was this a work of God to rid me of sin or was it a sinister trick or the devil to make give up the gift God had given me (and maybe go mad or commit suicide).
Then there were the amateur psychiatrists. Was I going at this so “obsessively and compulsively” because I had not been encourage by my parents? Was it some neurotic compensation for being handicapped (I had spina bifida). Did I feel so ineffectual in my real life and so frightened by real life challenges that I had to create a parallel universe on paper of which I could be sovereign? One person put the thing like this. “Being a writer – It’s a little like being God isn’t it?”
Now I knew I must work this out in my own mind. To attempt to share my anguish with others was to invite their judgement. Was any of what they were saying so? Would God keep me from being published as a chastisement or even a curse for being so wicked? If I discovered such wickedness in myself and repented, would it be to obey God out of love for Him or would it be to curry His favor so he would let me be published? Even the possibility that the latter could have passed through my mind seemed to point to how far down in the realm of things I stood spiritually.