A Better Way to Sell Out

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Writing makes me happy. NovellaBag

But I have something of a strained relationship with publishing. Being an introvert, I don’t want the spotlight, though being human, I do like being well-regarded. Publishing is legitimizing, but it’s also exposing, which depending on your personality can be invigorating or shall we say unpleasant, as in fly-unzipped-on-laundry-day awkward.

So if I’m going to do this—publish I mean—I want to know that what I’m showing off is something larger, or more substantial, than just me showing off.

Discounting the inevitable derision could present a challenge otherwise.

I want what I wrote while blissfully ignorant of any exposing to be unmistakably and unavoidably not simply mine.

The trouble is, overexposure has become the norm, if not the expectation for modern authors in our manic, addiction-inducing culture. And having conceived the work in such a sacred exchange, slapping on the sandwich board to hock it as so much product feels a little like spitting on your grandma. I’m not so much worried about the gut-wrenching agony of being imprisoned in the hype machine. It’s more the fear that I’d be forced to become my own stalker-murderer and suffocate myself with my promotional monogrammed book bag.

So I’ve been thinking this through because I could publish anonymously or with a pen name, which seems attractive until it comes to interviews and such. There are ways to avoid detection and “live off the grid” as it were with things like voice scramblers that writer of the Fourth Realm trilogy “John Twelve Hawks” used. But somehow rejecting publicity to such an extreme feels more like a publicity stunt…

No, I think if I’m going to do it, publish, I need a better reason to sell out than hoping to sell out.

“Unscrupulous people fake it a lot; honest people are sure of their steps. Nothing clever, nothing conceived, nothing contrived, can get the better of God.” (Prov. 21:29-30)

A little later, the sage says, “The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God is plenty and honor and a satisfying life.” (22:4)

I don’t know if not putting a price on the product of our inspiration is necessary, but it’s certainly advantageous. Making writing your livelihood is a perilous prospect, though not unmanageable. In the end, “Do your best, prepare for the worst—then trust God to bring victory” (21, final verse). The nut to be cracked here seems to be in what you “prepare” for, whether to provide for your own needs or for others’.

So I’m still wrestling. But I’m also praying, believing there’s a right path for everyone moving forward with the call to get the WORD out.

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3 thoughts on “A Better Way to Sell Out”

  1. Once again touched by your heart, Mick!
    In The Called (those who write to express the Lord’s heart) any look-at-me motives will meet with loving discipline so it’s better not to tempt. Mixed motives require time on His threshing floor which is a dry, dusty and almost violent place. His is a quality bakery – NO CHAFF ALLOWED. Besides giving out bread mixed with self-chaff can’t end well – for us or for those we mean to bless.
    Two instances of men who have been to the threshing floor recently – Steve Strang (beautiful testimony in Feb’s Charisma mag. about why he took his name off his publishing company) and Wayne Cordeiro who has stepped down from his position of the mega church he built on Oahu (testimony in his book “Leading on Empty”)
    If we know His love – really know His love – will we need to look anywhere but to Him for affirmation?

  2. Introvert? Interesting. Me too. Writing and serving God vs. marketing and aggrandizement… our temptation to touch the glory is a real dilemma. I think the answer for me to hear God on the matter. For example, He clearly opened doors for the book tour…that’s a whole story in itself. Then there are quiet periods where I think “is that it?” and during those times, I resist pushing more marketing and wait. Then He opens these amazing doors, suddenly. So as in all things, there is a time to “do stuff” and a time to wait…the rhythm of heaven.

  3. Susan, Mick… It’s no wonder we’re all friends. We share so much in common. The rhythm of heaven is so accurate. So necessary.
    The trick seems to be not being tethered to it – a much easier prospect for a “second income” than the primary breadwinner in a family. For those who “need” to make it a career the goals and motivations and even the process seem different. Read interviews with Nicholas Sparks or even Jodi Piccoult (whose husband is a stay at home dad) and you will see their approach to writing is different. Not better or worse, just different.
    It seems the purist, uncompromising starving-artist-model is the other alternative to this, which is certainly more romantic but doesn’t bode well for families who need health care and food and other such sundries. Perhaps those who have the most freedom to have their writing be “the frosting” have also the most freedom to create and control. It is a sad truth, which would naturally border on unfair were we allowed the luxury of entitlement that our hearts desire, but a truth nonetheless.
    I wrestle daily with the idea of legitimization vs. sell out, and I think in the end I will still choose creative freedom and control. But that’s just me. Thanks for these thoughts… Always great to hear from you both!

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