By Deborah Heal
Fiction or “Serious” Writing?
Fiction writers sometimes harbor a secret embarrassment that their stories are less important than the sermons, essays, and treatises of the “serious” non-fiction writer. But never forget the tremendous power of imaginative writing!
C. S. Lewis believed the only way we grasp any idea with clarity is if we have an image attached to it. Many, many (I’ve lost the number) people have come to know God through C. S. Lewis’ fantasy series about Narnia. This should come as no surprise. After all, Jesus often chose to use parables, which are stories after all, to teach deep truths.
Story telling is even an effective tool for fund raising. When I worked for the Arms of Love Crisis Pregnancy Center, in Godfrey, Illinois, one of my jobs was to write letters to our supporters reminding them to keep contributing to the good work being done. One Christmas, I decided to use a story to help my readers better understand the kinds of problems the Center’s clients face. Here is the text of my letter:
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in
swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger.” Luke 2:7
Now that was a crisis pregnancy! There is something so heart wrenching about the thought of the newborn King lying in a stable when he should have had every luxury in the universe. Every parent wants the best for their precious little ones. But for some couples—like Mary and Joseph—the circumstances are just not what they would have wanted. For instance. . .
The Miserable Christmas of 1955
Carl was just out of the service and couldn’t find a job. And he had a wife two kids to provide for—Brenda, three-year-old Stevie, and two-month-old Patty. So Carl packed up the family and moved and then moved again, but with a recession going on there were no jobs to be had. For a while Brenda found work at the dime store, and Carl stayed home to watch the two kids. There was no money to put gas in the car, so when he heard that the Shell station was hiring he walked across town to inquire. Sure enough, the sign in the window said, HELP WANTED, but when he went inside the man told him the job had just been filled. It was a long walk back home.
“The air Force will take me back,” Carl told Brenda. “I’ll go talk to the recruiter tomorrow.” But the Air Force was not taking men with two children.
The approaching Christmas season just highlighted their misery. “Well,” Brenda said, “at least Patty is too little to know about Christmas presents.” Or maybe she did and that’s why she cried so much. She seemed hungry all the time, no matter how often she nursed, and Brenda began to wonder if she had enough milk.
Brenda cried in the doctor’s office when he explained that, “yes, you can get pregnant even while you’re nursing.” And when baby Mikey came, he slept in a dresser drawer because Patty still needed the crib.
This Christmas season I am asking you to consider a very special gift for the Arms of Love Crisis Pregnancy Center so that we can continue to help families like Carl and Brenda’s resist the pressure from our culture to abort their baby “Mikeys.” Your gift will allow us to help women like Brenda with maternity clothes, formula, baby clothes, and baby supplies—like a crib for the baby to sleep in.
Apparently, my little story helped to put a face on the problems associated with unplanned pregnancies, because donations poured into the center right after I sent it out. (It’s still a good place to send donations.) It is also a reminder that there is power in writing about what you know. You see, I am the Baby Patty of the story.
I invite you to share your examples of “Writing Real Good” on that section of my website. I’d love to share how you have used your writing talent for God.
Deborah Heal, the author of the Time and Again time-travel mystery series, was born not far from the setting of her book Every Hill and Mountain and grew up “just down the road” from the setting of Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy. Today she lives with her husband in Waterloo, Illinois, where she enjoys reading, gardening, and learning about regional history. She has three grown children, four grandchildren, and two canine buddies Digger and Scout. She loves to interact with her readers, who may learn more about the history packed in the books at her website http://www.deborahheal.com and her Facebook author page Follow her on Twitter. Her books may be purchased in paper and ebook formats at Amazon.com.