Believe me, the last thing I want to do is write more nonfiction. My dream is to be a novelist. But if you’ve read my work before, you know that I suffer from a terminal case of writer’s block.

When I heard that Inkwell’s theme this month was “Clarity,” I began to assemble all the pieces I needed to write a good short story. I had inspiration, characters I liked, a story worth telling, and even the time to write it. In four days I managed to write two pages of words. And then I came to the horrible realization that I didn’t like what I had written, and I didn’t want to invest more energy in my story—not when I could write better nonfiction in a fraction of the time.

Will my dream ever be realized? I know that God has given me the desire and the ability to write. I believe He wants me to be a storyteller. So why is He making things so hard? Why do I get distracted so easily? Why can’t I write a story that I like? Is it a sign to quit? Or is there another story He wants me to focus on?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. But at this point, I must assume that God knows best, and that there is a reason nothing is turning out the way that I would like.

Being a storyteller has taught me a lot about God and what He must be like. Indeed, my work mirrors His in so many ways. I create worlds and populate them with characters I love. I have a plan and a purpose for each character, from the protagonist to the most insignificant person he meets. Each of their individual stories ties into a greater story, my own.

Of course, every good story has conflict. And if I’m telling the stories of my characters, I must add conflict to their lives somehow. I’ve given them a world that they are comfortable living in; the next step is to destroy that world—literally or figuratively—and leave them reeling in shock. If I’m writing a mystery novel, I might reintroduce my heroine to the husband she thought was dead after she has taken a new husband. In a superhero story, the hero might lose his powers. Or if I’m crafting a historical drama, I might send a pacifist off to war against his will.

Once I’ve destroyed the perfect world, I take my characters on a journey where all of their worst nightmares are realized. I cause things to happen to my characters that I would never wish on my worst enemy. Slowly, I strip them of many things they hold dear—family, friends, homes, status, and more. Hell rains down on my characters until they are battered and broken to the point where my readers might wonder how they will ever recover.

If my characters were aware of my existence, do you suppose they would hate me? Perhaps they would resent being put through the situations I’ve created for them. Maybe they would rather I did not exist; after all, wouldn’t it be better to have no author than an author who allows such horrible things to happen to the characters that he loves? Some might even argue that I hate my characters because I allow such horrible things to happen to them.

If my characters knew of my existence, most of them would probably hate me for allowing them to be hurt. What they wouldn’t understand is that I allow them to be hurt because I love them. I want them to grow as human beings; therefore, I allow them to experience challenges and situations that will mature them over time. I don’t “torture” them. I use the situations that happen to them to help change them for the better—to mold them into the men and women I want them to become. And once I have done this, I will create a “new world” for my characters—a place where they can return to a normal life but with a maturity they did not possess before.

I could try to explain my reasoning to my characters, but it would be impossible for them to fully understand. For every question I address, they would have ten more, and I could never satisfy them. Additionally, too much explanation ruins a story. It is better for my characters to experience growing pains and learn over time the lessons I am trying to teach them.

Sometimes my characters fail to learn my lessons. They resist me, reject me, and choose to go their own ways, becoming the “villains” of other characters’ stories. Other characters do learn the lessons I am trying to teach, even if they don’t understand why I felt I needed to employ the methods I did. They experience true growth, becoming heroes that inspire my readers.

My ultimate goal is that my characters will teach my readers important lessons about God and themselves. Every time a villain goes astray to his own defeat, he is teaching my readers a lesson about mistakes to avoid making. Every time a hero rises to the occasion, facing and overcoming the obstacles I put in his way, he is teaching my readers a lesson about overcoming challenges in their own lives.

What does any of this have to do with my writing life? My characters’ stories have everything to do with my writing life, as well as with my life in general. In this life, I am but a character in a book. God is the Author of my story. He is sending me on a great adventure and allowing me to face conflicts. I rarely enjoy the trials, but I know that He is using difficult experiences to mold me into the man He always meant me to be.

And do you know what the best part is? My story isn’t over yet—it’s still being told. I don’t know if there’s a novel in my future or not, but I know I’ll be okay either way. God is not finished with me yet, which means that He must have plans for me still. I’m looking forward to finding out what they are!