In response to some comments that have been made about my first project Commencement, I just wanted to clear up some things. First, Commencement is available as a whole book (616 pages) or you can try it out in four parts (Books 1- 4). I decided to present it in this way so that those of you who are pressed for time and money could try it out, without having to waste time and money downloading the whole book in the event that you’re not feeling what I’m saying. I know it’s a long book, but I have read so many books with one-dimensional, cookie-cutter characters with no background or complexity, I just didn’t want to make more of the same. I wanted every character to be able to stand out on their own, with their own story and issues that people from different backgrounds could relate to. Commencement is simply to introduce you to each of them. None of their stories could be finished in one book, which leads me to my second point.
Commencement was planned to be the first book of a series (that is if anyone is interested in following it, if not, then there goes my plan). When I was writing the first book, I had a hard time finishing it. A lot of the endings I came up with seemed like absolutely ridiculous “happily ever after endings” that were just so mundane and typical of Christian fiction. That’s when I started thinking about how God has worked in my life, my own Christian upbringing, my coming to faith, the various tests and trials I’ve gone through and new ones I’m facing, and I realized that the only way to see how God works in a life is to follow it to it’s end. Even in the Bible, God has chronicled the lives of most of his Saints from the beginning to the end and then when we look at the whole, we can see just what he’s done. Even as I am writing on my computer right now, I can’t truly say what my “purpose” is. I know that writing is a part of it. Things are still being revealed to me day by day. To say that Allen would get saved and then get this miraculous revelation and be absolutely certain about what was going to happen with his life would just be silly (in my humble opionion). Moses was uncertain after Pharoh made Israel’s burden’s harder (remember when Pharoh told them to make bricks without straw). David wasn’t certain what the outcome was going to be when he was hiding in caves. Sure, he knew God would keep him, but I’m not sure he knew exactly what God was keeping him for. I think God reveals what we need to know at certain times and keeps us in the dark at other times because he wants us to trust Him. That’s when I realized that Commencement had to be about more than just salvation.
Everyone likes stories about salvation, but salvation is just the first step. Living for God is much more than that moment. Once you are saved, you go through a process of sanctification where you begin to let go of your life and by degrees let God take over and live through you. I want to do more writing that illustrates this process with everything that comes along with it. No one becomes a saint overnight and this has never been illustrated in the Bible – ever, and I can’t stand Christian fiction with paper-board perfect characters who get saved and then “live happily ever after”. No one comes to God perfect. If we were perfect, Jesus wouldn’t have had to die for us. (We all know people who think Jesus died for everyone except them, don’t we.) I also don’t think people are ‘instantly’ perfected. I like to think God changes you over time. He takes old useless things out and puts new more necessary things in. As you grow in God, He works in you to make you stronger. The evidence is in the thoughts in your mind, which in turn, influences the things you do and the choices you make. In order for God to take over our lives we have to want Him there. We show Him that we want Him there by our faith and our choices. Because of our fallen nature, many times the choices seem difficult. Still, if we love Him like we say we do, we have to push past ourselves to make the choice that God wants for us. Over time we would like to think it would get easier, but as long as we are alive there are going to be tests and trials. As the Bible says “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne…”(Revelation 3:21). The struggle’s not over until we rest with Him. And yes, we can fall away from grace if we allow ourselves to be deceived by the devil and his works.
As such, I left a lot of things open in Commencement. Each one of the characters has a long way to go toward sanctification. I totally intended to go back to each of the threads in different books (in fact, I have been working on the second draft of the second book since the late December) and wrap up some of the issues. However, if those who have read Commencement aren’t really interested, then maybe I’ll find another hobby. I do promise that I will try to make these books shorter than the original Commencement and try to keep things under 300 pages or so.
Now I’d like to hear from anyone who has read the story. Did you like it? Why or why not? Do you have a favorite character? Are there characters that get on your nerves? All of them used to get on my nerves in the beginning because they were always arguing and their expectations of the world were just plain unrealistic. However, I don’t know many 22-24 year olds who are any different. If you liked it, who would you want to read about in the next book? Who do you think was the most interesting? I’m hoping someone responds. Even if no one does, I’ll probably keep writing the series anyway because with all the insanity on my job, God and my writing are the only things that are keeping me sane right now. I can’t promise to churn out books every year because I just do not have the time. I wanted this next book to be finished by the end of the summer, but it depends upon my work schedule, which has increased dramatically this year. I have a day job that is demanding to say the least (I take work home every day) and the only time I have to write is on Saturdays and holidays. I’ve been trying to blog and stay in the loop, but then the blogging takes time away from the books. Anyways, I do want to get better at this writing thing, so I am open to constructive criticism. That being said, if you are a troll, atheist, or just a plain hater – keep your comments to yourself. Peace.