Your Writers Group Resolution, 2007

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Can you believe all there is to think about as we start another year? So much to evaluate and reevaluate–and there’s never time for it all.

One of my resolutions for 2007 is to make sure that every new thought that glides across your screen here begins with a question: Does this affirm the greater purpose of what writers do? I’ve missed that goal at times, and I’ve allowed many things to get in the way. So first off, I’d like to start with an apology, for not leading more consistently from my heart for writers. The changes I’ve seen in the industry over the past year convince me Christian writers are escaping the stigma of substandard work and moving forward. Yet frustration and fatigue have clouded my judgment, and I’ve offended needlessly–when I intended to offend with purpose.

Thanks to some wise counsel, I’m learning to express truth and beauty with love, and it isn’t such a struggle to say what I mean when it’s simply coming from that simple goal.

Certainly, the Internet breeds misinterpretation, and a little controversy doesn’t derail the larger work going on. But I do hope those who’ve taken offense will accept my apologies for besmirching the difficult work they do. It is not my intent to undermine sincere efforts or pure hearts.

It is my intent, however, to divide us where truth and lies become indistinguishable. It’s been difficult to clarify this purposeful division for everyone because there are assumptions, reputations, and great advances made (pun intended) on the pretense of "not rocking the boat."

I’m writing this post tonight to reestablish the purpose of Your Writers Group–it’s been misunderstood by many. What’s frustrated me is that it’s almost as though my words are misunderstood intentionally by a clan of usual suspects who come off looking very regal as they drag through the mud our sincere concern for the negative image Christian writers are given. If I’m demonized because Christian writers are disrespected by the larger market, that’s fine. But some very well-respected folks in CBA assume it’s blindness to their feelings that keeps me from changing this message. On the contrary, it would be blindness to ignore the truth and the passion that convinces me to continue encouraging Christian writers to press on.

Yes, it bothers me that we can’t all agree. But everyone sees things differently and if my detractors think I’m divisive and harsh or high and mighty, I know my heart. And if I’ve come off harshly, I do apologize. Yet sometimes harshness is read into my words where I’ve intended only love, and that’s when I realize it’s a spirit problem. Let she who has ears to hear tell me I’m being too harsh in saying that Christian writers don’t always live up to their own high standards, and I will choke down my words and take down the blog.

The fact is we all need encouragement in this fight to balance commercial viability with high quality inspiration, and I can’t abandon the truth to make myself or anyone else happy. If that sounds laughably pious, I’m an easy target. It isn’t intended that way. Simply, my naive goal is to love my fellow writers and friends who work to produce their very best every day, and not bow to compromise under the great pressures that face us in this industry of Christian book selling. Where we are without love, we become useless.

Yet where we are without biblical insight, we become substandard. Truth and love must be balanced as the two hands that lift us to success in this life. Just as acquisitions editors are often challenged to balance commercial viability with inspired content, no truly successful book endeavor can be complete without both. The goal of both is to interweave those goals: commercial and inspired, truth and love. They don’t take turns and alternate; they become one and the same.

This is the ideal, whether we accept it or not, whether we always state it clearly or not. It’s falsehoods and illogic that convince us otherwise. For our purposes here, I want to add beauty into the mix, but don’t be confused: it’s still truth that carries beauty forward and allows it its power. But love, as the apostle Paul says, is the greatest of all, and all the truth in the world can’t save us from the fact that we are nothing without it. Truth may make life livable, but it’s love that makes it worth living. There can never be enough.

So as we move forward with our discussion of the challenges facing CBA and Christian writers, let’s remember that we’re all on the same side, each of us trying to create something better from the clay we’ve been given. And some may forget and compromise in the face of the pressure, but we don’t judge them, lest we be judged. Instead, let’s build up and focus our energies on learning to balance truth and love in everything we do.

And maybe, in the process, we’ll find some of the balance we’re seeking in the rest of life.

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13 thoughts on “Your Writers Group Resolution, 2007”

  1. Happy New Year, Milk.
    I’ve read two apologies today online from Christian writers, both apologizing for offending another Christian writer.
    It is a great and humble gesture.
    However, I hope it doesn’t give us an excuse to become lazy writers. I hope it doesn’t give us an excuse to not want to explore our boundaries as artists. And I hope this apology will continue to push each other to create books that will woo our readers back to His Greatness.

  2. The truth spoken in love- with everyone’s best interests at heart=beauty.
    Edification simply because the artist is a Christian=deception.
    Forge on ahead, Mick. Happy New Year.

  3. Mick,
    Thanks for your words. I appreciate them tremendously.
    For those of you who’ve noticed my comments have been deleted, I asked Mick to do that as a favor to me. I couldn’t go through and delete them individually to sift through those which might be construed as hurtful. So, if you see a comment that responded positively to you, there is no other reason than arbitrariness.
    God bless us everyone as we write for the glory of our Creator.

  4. I understand this, and have been convicted of it in different settings. I know a guy who has a heart to serve God. We clash on so many levels, but we both love the Lord. When we remember that we both love God, that we are part of the same Body, and that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, we are able to serve together, despite our many differences. So here’s my question, maybe that Truth that sets us free (a Truth found in a person, not a proposition) is found in a loving unity of His people, a unity that embraces the differences of opinions rather than fights over them.

  5. First of all, Dee called you “Milk” and that made me laugh out loud, so she gets 50 points. (Hey, no matter that it’s a typo. I laugh. Dee gets points.)
    Just so you know, I like all you people. None of you have offended me–or, if you did, I don’t remember it. (There are advantages to getting older.) Also, please do me a favor. If I’ve ever offended any of you with a thoughtless or sarcastic comment, take a white out pen and mark it out on your computer screen. We’ll both feel much better.
    (That’s a joke.)
    Good illustration, Heather. Happy New Year, everyone.

  6. mick.
    wise soul. gracious one.
    it is not, it never is easy, is it?
    here’s to another year.
    and where i leave the christian circle, i do not leave God. you know this. all that really matters to me now is, what God thinks about what i’m doing.
    the rest, is just opinion.
    suz.

  7. Mick,
    The fact that “we can’t agree” doesn’t bother me one bit. Enough with the apologies. If anyone is offended, they don’t need to be writing to begin with.
    While we as Christian writers are all on the same side, we all have sub-sides.
    That’s what makes Christian Fiction interesting…
    …and apologies not apply.

  8. Re: speaking the truth in love…
    It is said that you can only speak into someone’s life to the extent that they know you love them.
    I think you underestimate the far reaching affect this blog has had and will continue to have for as long as you are you.
    Much more than simple ripples in a pool, formed by pebbles whose weight is barely enough to make a pretty pattern on the surface, you throw in the big rocks – the kind that make an enormous splash all the way to the bottom of the pond.
    The rocks you toss stir the deep waters, though the splash they make on the surface isn’t always as pretty as some of the daintier (dare we say “safer”?) pebbles. Then again, the waves created by the smaller rocks can’t compare in distance or in depth with the undersea tremors perpetuated by the weight of the larger stones.
    This blog has been a continual source of challenge as well as inspiration for me personally. With your words you defy me to dive deeper, fly farther, and spread my wings wider than I’ve ever known, and I’m convinced I am a better writer for it.
    I look forward to every post, and I am also looking forward to the possibility of meeting you at Mt. Hermon this year.
    Love covers…

  9. Jim and Mick,
    Thanks for risking. It’s time for it, in writing and in life. Hope you guys stand with me when the heat hits. I think my book will create controversy, mostly among Christians. But I’m inspired to do the “flip” in life, not just in print. A bunch of my friends are talking about setting up a booth at a Farmer’s Market this summer to hand out free water bottles and put up a sign that says FREE PRAYER–just to see what happens. Maybe we’ll get egged, but maybe we see some miracles. I’m ready.
    I think the more we step out in life, in a Don-Miller-confession-booth kind of way, the more it will affect our writing. It will give us substance to write about.
    Just a thought. Love and thanks.
    Susan

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    WritingRaw.com is a FREE literary sharing website (like YouTube but for the literary world) where writers can upload, view and share their writing. The only restriction is that the material cannot be illegal in any sense of the word (such as child porn, plagiarism, etc.). Other then that, feel free to post in any of the following categories:
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    Our goal at Writing Raw is simple – to serve the literary community with the opportunity to have their work online and out in the world. Who knows who may see it! In this world of disappearing literary magazines, Writing Raw is providing the blank pages for writers to fill.
    To view someone’s writing, just click on the link and a .pdf version of the piece will open in your browser. Read it, comment on it, vote for it to be a showcased piece! Most important – ENJOY IT.
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