f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: I 've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy...

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Thursday, September 02, 2004

I 've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy...

We were talking about this the other day in the office and it’s something I’d like to bring up here in the hopes of perhaps inspiring one or two of you.

There is a sense in which CBA Fiction offers a weird paradox. People, including me probably, accuse it of being unrealistically “safe and shiny.” Yet when you look closer, there’s no way we can we accuse it of ignoring the pain and suffering in the world because, by and large, it’s is chock full of pain and suffering. Books about abuse and addictions and divorce and depression and the list goes on. Seriously.

It’s the last chapter though that we remember. That’s the one that—depending on our persuasion—moves us or seems repetitive. That’s the one where most of life’s little earthquakes settle and the sun breaks through the clouds. That is the promise and power of God—hope through painful times.

One element I feel that we tend to miss in this kind of fiction however is the wonder and miracle of joy. Life is hard and must be overcome. Which is certainly the case. But it’s not the only reality. I suppose it’s hard to write a novel with conflict and drama that includes “joy” but if folks want to try, I’d certainly be willing to listen.

Most of us writers, we tend toward the introspective, the melancholic. The dark night of the soul is a weekly ritual for many of us. From a pure marketing perspective however that’s not great business. Readers’, whose lives are tough, may not be so inclined to wallow in such mire. A book that shines a honest light of joy, what a beacon that could be.

One of the most joyous series in CBA to me is Lawana Blackwell’s Gresham Chronicles. There’s some difficult circumstances that set the plot into motion, but the overall tone of the books are filled with delight and pleasure. I think it’s no accident in the world that her books did so well.

We need Oscar Wilde’s and Cole Porter’s and David Sedaris’. (Yes, yes. I know.) We need About a Boy and Straight Man and Harvey and Bringing Up Baby. We need to lighten up a little. We need to rediscover joy in our art.