Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I don’t know how this post will end. I’m journaling before your very eyes. One of my favorite writers is tired and discouraged. She announced she's taking a sabbatical on FaceBook today. I won’t give her name. I’m not trying to speak for her. Her announcement just brought my own fears to the surface. Maybe we should talk about this.
She receives starred reviews from Publishers Weekly! They say things like, her novel is a “staggering examination of the Christian conscience” and her work rises above the typical with “her portrayal of the soul-desiccating acquisitiveness in which many Christians engage, often in a misguided attempt to numb both their heartache and their awareness of God's potentially life-upending plans.”
I love her writing, even though I don’t know what “soul-desiccating” means. (Note to self: look it up!)
She’s taking a sabbatical, maybe one year, maybe two. She’s tired. She’s discouraged. She needs a break from contractual writing to be refreshed and hear from God, not necessarily in that order. I completely understand.
I saw her at a conference recently, made a point of stalking her until I garnered the courage to introduce myself. She’s lovely. I learned so much from her in just the few minutes we talked. She sure loves her readers.
She also loves her publisher and editor. They are giving her the time, without penalty, to be refreshed. Such support is incredibly encouraging.
What surprised me most about what she said is this: "I'll never be one of 'the popular kids.' I'm finally realizing that and you know what? That's totally okay. But what I have to figure out is how to wear the badge of 'acquired taste' with honor instead of wishing for different badges." That totally bums me out! If this young woman who has reached for excellence and risen to heights I only dream to achieve and still hasn’t found a broad audience, what am I to think about that? Should I give up now?
There are things that aren’t perfect about writing in the CBA. (We aren’t in Heaven yet, you know.) For one, the more books on the shelf by a given author the better. We must develop our brand and stay in front of the reader, they say. Are readers that fickle? Should I be drinking Red Bull? How about a ghost writer? Anyone?
And why don't Christian readers love this woman's writing? She isn't an acquired taste. For me, it was love at first read! She's daring in her plotting. Her writing isn't corralled by fear. She makes me THINK!!! She dares me to consider God as bigger, yet closer and a little on the wild side.
I will pray for this author as she asked. And from my reaction, I definitely need time at His feet. There are questions I have to answer, again: Did I really hear His call to write? Why am I writing? Who am I writing for? Who is my audience? How do I avoid burnout? Can I? Where does Jesus want me?
Am I the only one asking questions or double-checking my calling? What sort of questions are you asking these days? We’re friends. We should talk.