Monday, May 29, 2006

HA: The Good Comeback

Everything has now fallen into place. I know why I write!

Have you ever had the experience of a friend, relative, stranger or enemy asking you a question you didn't know how to answer, or making a wisecrack for which you didn't have a good comeback until three days later?

That happened to Mel and me at a booksigning a couple of days ago. This woman came to our table holding a copy of our book, and asked, "Why do you call it inspirational fiction?"

I should have allowed one of our publisher's staff members to answer the question, since I actually wasn't the one who came up with that description, and that staff member would probably have had a much more effective answer. I said, "Well, uh, we', you know, Christians? And we, uh, you know, write from our own Christian world view? We feel God offers hope to the world, you know? So that's kind of...well...inspiring." Honestly, I don't always reply that poorly, but the sneer on her face caught me off guard.

She made a big show of placing the book on the table as if it were a piece, you know. "There are a lot of other things besides God that can inspire."

Then she promptly went to the other table with other writers of inspirational fiction and did the same thing to them. We compared notes later.

So that's why I write. Because when I'm writing a story, I get to shoot my zingers at people like that. I get to explore all the options of different replies. For instance, what if I'd have said, "Why don't you share your ideas with me? And then I'll tell you why I think God inspires me." Or I could have said, "So what's your problem?" Or I could have said a dozen other things.

In real life, I'm convinced that just about everyone on the planet is more intelligent than I am, and I don't have the words with which to share my heart. On paper, in my imagination, my characters are smarter than I am. They can say and do things I'd never dream of saying or doing. It's how I tell others about my God, about His goodness, mercy, love for them. Writing is the voice I don't have.

Cheryl Hodde writes with her husband, Mel, as Hannah Alexander. Check out their books at


At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Writing is the voice I don't have."

You have made my Memorial Day monday with this sentence. I've known for years that this is a large part of why I write, but I'd never stated it so succinctly.

Lori B.

At 12:16 PM, Blogger Sheryl said...

Amen to that! Your last paragraph spoke so much to me I copied and pasted it into my journal.

Thank you Cheryl :-)

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Southern-fried Fiction said...

Me, too, Cheryl! I'm not real fast on my feet and always come up with the best line ... two days later. :o) So I love it when my characters say witty things on the spur of the moment. ;)

At 12:09 AM, Blogger Camy Tang said...

Now that's neat! And true. I recently finished a manuscript where my heroine got to say all the snarky, sarcastic things I wish I could say to rude people.


At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Hannah,
I was on a panel called "inspirational Fiction" the first time I realized that's what some people thought I wrote. For me, inspiration is the act of breathing in, taking something in for the long haul. I love your answer that you felt you mumbled, because I think writing about God's hope is exactly what helps fill us up, carries us through the long haul. Your kibbizter was right, there are a lot of things that can inspire us besides God but none satisfies as God does. Keep writing those inspirational stories! Jane


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