Okay, My Turn . . .
Lately, there’s been a lot of chatter on blogs and social media sites about the state of Christian fiction, the placement of Christian fiction in bookstores, the guidelines imposed on authors, how authors can better use their writing to reach that “other” segment of the world that doesn’t peruse the Christian fiction aisle at Borders or walk through the door of a Christian bookstore, and other spin-off topics.
Interesting thoughts offered all around. It seems what set the thing off was a heartfelt article written by Eric Wilson. Facebook users got involved and the conversation really took off. Recently, Mike Duran and Tim George both offered viewpoints and opinions. Becky Miller offered a different one.
For the past few days I’ve thought about this topic (actually, I’ve been thinking about it for the past few years) and wanting to comment but not wanting to jump the gun. I didn’t want to comment for the sake of making myself heard.
Fact is, I know these discussions are important. I KNOW they are. But honestly, I’m weary of them. Sorry if that offends anyone, I really am, but that’s my honest-to-goodness feeling.
Maybe I’m being pessimistic, maybe not, but I’m at the point where I want to stop hollering for change and questioning “the establishment” and just write, do what God has called me to do. (I understand, God has called some to holler for change . . . I don’t think that someone is me).
Here are my thoughts, my writing manifesto, if you will:
I’m tired of worrying about the placement of my books in bookstores. Do I like it that the Christan fiction section is on the opposite side of the store as the other fiction aisles? No! Can I change that? I don’t think so.
I’m tired of worrying about the sales numbers of my books. Am I envious when these Amish fiction books sell 3, 4, 5 times more than mine? Honestly, sometimes. Can I do anything about it? Yes. Write great books that reach readers and do my best to spread the word (that’s ALL I can do).
I’m tired of wishing the CBA was something it isn’t. I chose to write in the CBA because I felt that’s where God was calling me . . . and still do. It was and is my choice.
I’ve felt this way for a long time and still do . . . I don’t think it’s the author’s job to reach lost people and share Christ with them. How can we? Our only contact with them is words on a page? Yes, stories are powerful and can be thought-provoking and challenging and uplifting. That’s what I go for in my own stories. They can even protray Christians in a positive light and point the spotlight at God. But how will they hear unless someone tells them? If our books plainly preach Christ and him crucified, risen, and coming again they won’t make it into the general market where the lost people are, heck, they probably won’t even make it into the CBA. Rather, I feel it is the author’s job to give Christians a tool so they can then take that tool and reach the lost around them with it. To me, that’s evangelistic writing. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe you disagree, that’s fine, but that’s where I am.
I feel for my fellow authors who are discouraged and frustrated. They have a calling and they feel the CBA is not the place to fulfill that calling or that the CBA isn’t doing enough to come along side them in that calling. To them I say press on. Go where God leads you with no regrets. Follow him and see where the journey takes you. And don’t look back.
For now, my place is in the CBA. I know I’ll never strike it rich here. Compared to the whole reading market, the Christian fiction share is rather small and the segment of that readership who like what I write (supernatural suspense) is miniscule. And that’s okay (I need to remind myself every day that it’s okay). I’m where I believe God wants me, writing what I believe he wants me to write. If and when that changes, I’ll go somewhere else and do something else.
Bottom line: The fact that I can write books that people will read is astounding to me, more than I ever dreamed of. The face that I have a publisher who supports me and wants to keep publishing my books just floors me every day. The fact that I’m alive today after battling cancer humbles me. I’ve been given a great gift . . . the opportunity to write books that are getting published and distributed to the masses . . . and I don’t want for one second to take that for granted. I want each book I write to come from my heart, to come from my experiences, to be infused by my faith, and to impact readers in a unique way. The only way that will happen is to follow God’s leading and write the stories he’s given me. I want to work hard to spread the word about my stories so more people will read them and hopefully pass them on to someone else, someone who needs to read them. Above all, I want to honor God with my writing.
That’s me. That’s where I am.