This past weekend, Facebook was overtaken by a storm of geeky epicness, also known as the fifth annual Realm Makers conference.
Alas, I was unable to attend this time around, but I vicariously enjoyed the conference through all the pictures and videos that literally flooded my feed for five days. ‘Twas glorious and bittersweet and heartening.
Having Realm Makers on my mind got me thinking about community and the vital role it plays not only for writers, but for fans of spec-fic awesomeness.
As Christian groups go, our little gathering of fantastical writers and fandom-loving people earns a reputation of being unique, strange, and definitely in the minority. That said, since the first Realm Makers conference back in the day, our fledgling spec-fic clan has grown. Or rather, the lovers of the weird and wonderful have always been there—we’re just increasingly discovering we’re not alone.
And that’s a powerful realization.
Christians who read and write spec-fic (both secular and Christian), fall in the “on the fringe and possibly suspicious” category. Nothing wrong with that, but I wonder if we’re destined to stay there? I know the topic of Christian fiction’s decline and where we as spec-fic authors fit in the puzzle has been discussed in a never-ending circle.
I don’t want to return the well that has been talked dry. I would, however, like to explore the power of this, for lack of a better term, movement.
Community—Finding Our People
Why has this niche in the Christian publishing world gained such a strong foothold? Small by CBA standards but more vibrant and alive than a newly regenerated Doctor.
Writers, despite loner introverts dominating their ranks, need to plug into a community. Jeff Goins, a prolific writer and supporter of art in all its forms, has said creatives produce their best work when they’re connected to other creatives. Which means not isolated in our one-room castle of writerness.
It’s good for us to make those connections, push outside our introvert comfort zones, and interact with fellow spekkies (not to be confused with Trekkies).
More than the necessity of coming together, as writers of spec-fic, we’re first and foremost fans of those genres. Why else would we love creating exotic worlds and characters with powers or the ability to perform magic? What we create is a reflection of what we love.
Finding a band of people who fit the same mold? Essential and priceless.
Camaraderie—Enjoying Our People
This sense of community leads to a distinct camaraderie. Having been to Realm Makers the previous three years, I can say it’s one of the few places where I’ve thought, “These are my people!”
We dress in awesome costumes, write crazy cool worlds, geek out over fantasy creatures and sci-fi technology and time travel tales. It’s basically a breathtaking togetherness, despite the wide range of interests and opinions.
I honestly can’t think of a single way to sum up the sense of fellowship found in the Christian spec-fic community, and particularly at Realm Makers.
And beyond the geeky discussions, late night Nerf wars, and costumes galore, we come together with a common purpose. To use our God-given storytelling gifts to create tales soaked in imagination and glittering with Truth.
Creativity—Fulfilling Our Calling
Though I wasn’t at Realm Makers, I saw on Facebook a comment from one of the sessions that as writers, our goal is to impact people with our stories.
So much yes!
For a long time, I’ve been bothered by the “even if no one else reads your work, it’s worth it” sentiment. While that’s true—our work does have inherent value regardless of popularity—I’m of the mind that I’d much rather create stories for other people to enjoy. It’s one thing to write an amazing story. It’s another when it leaves an impression on readers.
That’s the power of story, and one we should strive to use for the enjoyment of others and for God’s glory.
As Christians who know the Truth, and as spec-fic writers who can explore this Truth in beautiful, compelling ways, we’re uniquely positioned.
To tell stories that explore powerful themes.
To tell stories that stir the imagination and stimulate the mind.
To tell stories that sink into the soul.
This is why Realm Makers and similar undertakings are so important. They equip us to create better stories while surrounding us with like-minded writers who encourage and inspire us in our storytelling journeys.
Whether we publish for the ABA or the CBA or the SPA (self-publishing association 😉 ), and whether or not spec-fic takes off in the Christian community, we need gatherings like Realm Makers to invigorate us. We need our online communities to stay connected (hurrah for the Realm Makers Consortium!). And we need continued efforts to reach a wider audience—which is why I love the new Lorehaven venture.
Because, my writer (and reader) friends, the world needs our stories.
Let’s tell them.
As writers, what are ways we can unite to encourage one another and reach more people? And as readers, what are ways we can support and promote fantastical stories?