In the first of what’s likely to be many of his author interviews to come, I recently asked Jim Rubart of Woodinville, WA what he thought of the apparent caution evidenced on the back shelves at Barnes and Noble on any given Sunday. Jim, thanks for being here in the computer with me.
Jim: Peer pressure is supposed to go away after high school, right? Not a chance. We still conform so we’ll be accepted because deep down most of us are terrified. Terrified we won’t be loved, won’t be recognized and will be rejected for our way-out, ludicrous ideas. So we compromise. We make our stories and novels “fit”, thinking we’ll be liked by those around us if we do. We make it read like everyone else’s manuscript with maybe, maybe, a few minor changes. And we don’t limit it to our writing. We do it in our speech, our relationships, our jobs, every moment of our lives.
Make no waves! our mind screams, while our heart longs for something so much greater.
Look at ground shattering artists, actors, musicians, painters. ALL of them disintegrated the mold and many were savaged by the critics. “Horrible, atrocious. Nothing redeeming.” Early assessment of the Beatles. Stephen King, Dr. Seuss, Van Gogh, etc., etc, etc; all of them were ripped in the beginning.
When I hear people say “Life isn’t a dress rehearsal” I cringe. That’s exactly what life is. It’s just practice for the real life that comes when we leap to the other side. So since it’s just practice, why not lay it all out? Crash and burn! At least that way you’ll leave none of your music (or words) still inside when you die.
Couldn’t have said it better myself. So tell me. Do you think Christian publishing is selling out?
What? Because there are Christian novels out there that barely mention God or the Bible or Jesus?
Think about the greatest storyteller of all time. Go back and read His parables. It might shock you to see how many never mention God. Really. Go look. The stories Jesus told stirred people to think, stirred them to dig. Set them on a journey, but often didn’t spell it out in black and white. Many that wouldn’t touch the majority of books in CBA might start that journey with a “questionable Christian novel.”
Don’t misunderstand. I think there is a deep need for the overt Christian novel as well. But it’s interesting that we’re still trying to make every writer be a certain shape so they’ll fit in the nice little box we’ve created for ourselves and our expectations. This body is not all hands, knees, or elbows.
Is it possible to let the writing body be the writing body? Toni Morrison says “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Can we trust that our sisters and brothers—with the Lord’s leading—are doing exactly that?
Speaking of crossing over: When Dylan’s album Saved came out many Christians set the guy a little lower than Jesus. But when Amy Grant tried to cross over into the larger market in the mid 80’s she was hammered.
Now the moment I become perfect I’m going to start judging everyone. Till then I’m going to trust that God is doing what he wants with others around me and that they’re listening to His voice.
Okay. Here’s my gamely lob right over the net: you’ve written an interesting novel that’s likely to sell soon. What’s the genre and tell us a little about it and how you decided to write it.
Genre? Contemporary fantasy. Magical realism. Speculative. I wish I could land on a definition. A man inherits a home in Cannon Beach, Oregon that turns out to be a physical manifestation of his own heart.
Your definitions welcome.
Um, New Wave Fabulists? Or how about just cool lit?
If we’re honest, each of our lives are wrapped in chains. We long to break out. We long to step into that destiny pounding away on our insides. But the pounding of the doubts and fears is louder, and we listen. Jesus says He came to heal the brokenhearted—c’mon, let’s see those hands—and set the captives free. Anyone need a bit more freedom?
I wanted to write a story where a young man is forced to face the fear, the wounds and the voices that hold him back from stepping into the freedom and destiny that had been planned for him for all eternity.
The most gratifying thing so far is having friends that have read ROOMS using the language in the book to work through the chains in their own lives.
Also, three non-believers have read the book and all raved about it. It surprised me, but is a rush to think ROOMS is a book that could have a wider audience than just CBA.
What advice would you give aspiring writers who want to take the risk of putting their writing out there but are terrified of rejection? i.e. Can I still be nice and incorporate my signature phrase, “unconscionable suckage”?
My wife, kids and I watch “American Idol” (sue me). Simon Cowell might be the epitome of acerbic comments, but behind the scenes he tells wannabes the truth. “Go play the clubs for three years, work hard, listen to critiques from people who know the industry and come back. You’ve got talent but it isn’t enough. Yet.” But as he says, less than 1% do it. During the Seattle try outs this year a singer got his golden ticket after trying three times before. He was told the truth, he listened and now he’s on his way to Hollywood.
Writing books for the publishing industry is American Idol on paper. Lots of hopefuls but out of 100,000 only 120 or so make it to the “pub board” each year. But next year can be reality if you’re willing to listen and work at it.
And I probably wouldn’t promote “unconscionable suckage” publicly too much. Simon might steal the line.
Thanks for the advice. I’m grateful for your time and ideas.