My Writers Group, Take II

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And we’re back.

Alright, you wonderful, creative minds. Did you miss the group? I’ve missed you. Sorry for my extended absence there, but it was really time for me to take a step back and reevaluate my motivation as a character in this crazy movie. It’s been a good time for me, very needed, and probably overdue, but God used some incredible people, including many of you, to bring me back to reality and show me the impact of some of my statements and faulty assumptions.

Honestly, for a while there, I wasn’t sure I would even get to come back. It started with a letter from a friend and grew from there, snowballing into revelation after disturbing revelation, until I saw the uncomfortable truth with the new sight I’d been handed.

Blogging is strange. It can feel so private. This little entry box pops up and you type some words into as though they’re just these little things, little crumbs left over from your day to tape into your notebook. Totally insignificant and definitely not something you’d actually get people to read. I mean, the words are just 1s and 0s, little bytes on a computer screen. Surely they don’t mean anything of true influence.

X <-- Bang head here.

I didn’t set out to rant. It was just supposed to be a rec room to kick back in and not worry about what furniture I was destroying with my shoes or my condensating soda can, rude cigarette smoke, or whatever. It was a place to accept my unsubstantialness and blow off steam. Maybe there were some artful rants in the course of things, but they were still rants and still offensive because it isn’t only my rec room to shed my stress and complain about my job and scratch myself when I felt like it (Okay, I don’t even have a rec room, and even if I did, I wouldn’t be scratching myself in front of you. But you get the point.).

But originally, My Writers Group was this kind of place for us all to gather around to rant and rave about what can feel like an unstoppable machine of rigidity and … I don’t know, comfort? Safety? Whatever. Whatever is the opposite of risk and adventure we call “freedom in Christ” that seems so ellusive when you go looking for it in my job as a book editor at a big Christian ministry. It’s uncomfortable and it’s nice to find others who feel the same, other artists, editors, thinkers, readers. Writers of books like this. And this. On this blog, I’ve intended to make a concerted effort to apply this thinking to the production of fiction. The freedom-in-Christ kind of fiction that’s a product of these kinds of books, that is less concerned with abiding by the rules than it is expanding lives and maturing souls. And in my lack of restraint and vigor, I’ve erred on the side not of decorum, not of concern for others. I wasn’t thinking in the context of compassion for the writers who already had this as their mission and were daily implementing it in the real world of Christian fiction production, something I can currently only imagine. I’ve erred on the side of strength and force, of strong-arming, revolution-inciting, and war-crying. I’ve tried to turn tides, not believing I could actually evoke an effect, shouted like threats from the basement by a cranky, unrecognized pencil-pusher.

I knew there were a few hundred visitors, about half that many regularly returning, but it only bolstered my convictions that the underdogs were finally being heard, insubstantial as it might be. I felt my soap box turning into a lectern, my opinion being raised to a level of moral rightness that’s abhorrent to me in retrospect. I became the heavy hand I was biting.

But last Saturday, a dear friend approached me and held up a mirror and it scared me enough to pull the blog down and do some soul-searching. I don’t want to hurt people. I don’t want to derail creativity. I’m happy to say that this friend had the patience and compassion to show me how my words were coming off to some of my readers, readers I was hoping to encourage. I was told that I’ve scared off many with my strong opinions, stated more as facts than beliefs.

It started to look like my movie here. I’m sorry to say it, but after a long week of fasting, praying, arguing, and waiting, I’ve realized that I came close to shooting myself in the foot, turning the very people I wanted to influence into the enemy. That was never my intent. But the idea I kept coming back to was that even if I wasn’t intending to harm, it was the message received, and it grew from my own faulty assumptions, namely, that I can sit here and say Christian fiction is substandard and not expect a backlash. I see now it was only a matter of time before I was taken to task.

Now, mind you, I still think a lot of Christian fiction is substandard. But there is much more to say on this than the negativity I’ve been expressing, and I want us to keep going. But for tonight, I hope you’ll take some time to revisit some of those posts in the right column I’ve taken efforts to edit and make them more succinct, less inflamatory. I think it’s important if we’re going to have a positive impact. Some of you might see that as unnecessary compromise, censorship, or worse. But there were faulty assumptions I needed to correct and I think you’ll find that my accuracy is much improved now. Growth, maturity and understanding of these contentious issues is the goal, but more than that, it’s supporting and encouraging writers and readers. And I want to make it clear that I’m not standing up here in an ivory tower. I hope the image of the rec room will be helpful in visualizing that. I need to hear from all of you, what exactly you’re feeling as a result of my suggestions, whether you agree or disagree, and if you catch me slipping on any questionable opinions. The entire goal of this site is to create a forum for discussing the state of Christian fiction and none of us are infallible experts on the subject, least of all me, who reads little commercial, CBA fiction. I’m starting to come back, little by little, as a result of some very interesting authors and editors who believe in expanding the market. I hope to feature more and more of these experts here in the coming months. I’m not changing in my core convictions. This site is hard-hitting. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

So please take a gander at Your Writers Group’s mission statement. Edits are requested; this is a draft. Please leave comments as you feel led and we’ll hammer something out we can all feel good about. Or, at the very least, discuss some more.

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12 thoughts on “My Writers Group, Take II”

  1. Bless you Laddie, welcome back! When I consider the type of writing we talk about here, it’s like I’m at the bottom of this colossal mountain, none too sure I’ll make it to the top alive.
    But it’s the only mountain I want to climb.
    It takes a bodacious passion to even try, I think, and that passion gets me in trouble sometimes, too. Still, your encouraging voice is a good companion.
    Thank you. It’s good to have you back.

  2. So glad you’re back. I’ve always appreciated your honesty and you have always inspired me. Sometimes people need to hear the truth raw and sometimes that raw truth hurts. It’s all about motivation of the heart. And I don’t know you, but from what I’ve read, it appears that your motivation has been to challenge us to think creatively and excellently. (Hey, two -ly words in one sentence! LOL) For that, I applaud you. Grace, Suzan

  3. It seems apparent to me that there is a coming-forth going on about us, an assembling of a previously unknown remnant. If this coming together is a God-thing (as I believe it is), having your voice drop away would be inconvenient but wouldn’t stop the overall ministry.
    The fact that you’re back (in whatever capacity after course-correction) reassures me that we’re not imagining this calling and inspires me to be open to God’s course-correction myself at any given moment.
    Praise the Lord and pass the quill (and welcome back, Mick).

  4. As the venerable P.D. Eastman so eloquently put it, “It is hot out here in the sun.” Yep, the sun can get a little warm. It can make you sweat, it can burn your tender skin, it can sap you of your strength, but honestly there is nothing like it after days of gloom and darkness. Just ask any Minnesotan. The sun on your face is unquestionably one of the nicest feelings there is. I’ll take it, even if it means putting up with a little heat, a little sunburn and a little sweat, from time to time. I missed my writers group. . . Glad the sun is shining on it again :)
    Susan

  5. Thanks, everybody. It’s encouraging to see so many different people here. I’m encouraged that we’ll get some good discussion going. Let’s remember to be respectful of EVERYONE who comes here looking for dialog and clarification of the issues.
    We all have prejudices, but we can learn from each other if we’re open to it.

  6. I stumbled upon this blog just days before you shut down. I liked it a lot. What I like even more than I did before is witnessing a man who readily shuts down and bows at the feet of his Master.
    You words may speak volumes, but your actions are a reflection of Him that lives in you.
    So at the same time we look in horror into the mirror at our shortcomings we must also look at the person God made “in His image”. How hard is that comprehend?
    God has blessed you with a friend that held the mirror for you. Thank you for holding the mirror up for each of us to look into as well. And moreso, thank you for seeking God.
    ~michelle

  7. hi mick, i’ve been at girl scout camp all week, and sang grey squirrel so many times i can hardly think.
    but all is well. you are back and i’ve some reading to do.
    humility is a huge quality in leadership. so glad you’ve got it.
    suz

  8. thoughts on writing

    Hmm. Ever notice that when life gives you a sucker punch, blogging and blog reading are just not real high on your priority list? Well, if not, I don’t think you’ve really experienced a sucker punch in the game of life. And since this week hasn’t been …

  9. thoughts on writing

    Hmm. Ever notice that when life gives you a sucker punch, blogging and blog reading are just not real high on your priority list? Well, if not, I don’t think you’ve really experienced a sucker punch in the game of life. And since this week hasn’t been …

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