Last week at ICRS, an author told me something I probably should have realized a long time ago, which is that I’ve built myself a reputation as the guy who hates CBA. And another friend gently suggested that there are even some authors who apparently consider themselves the brunt of my negativity about the safe boundaries CBA has built around Christian fiction. Both of these misconceptions concern me, but especially the idea that I’m picking on writers. Apparently, while I’ve been commenting on the generally deplorable state of Christian fiction (and all Christian arts for that matter), I’ve been drawing a bead on myself and alienating some of the most respected names in the business.
Well, I suppose I should just accept it, but I’m not willing to do anything so rational. Not after all this cock-eyed hullabaloo I’ve been making. Anyway, you’ll be no doubt relieved to know that I resisted the urge to laugh it off, and took the words in, and felt genuinely apologetic for any misconceptions I’ve contributed to. These authors (you authors) are people I respect, and writing Christian fiction for as many years as they have, I can’t help but wonder why they’d think my opinions were of any consequence, let alone debatable. I confess I’m all puffed up with inappropriate pride at the attention.
But let me stop right there and also confess that I do not hate CBA, have never spoken negatively about an author’s work (with the exception of maybe Jerry Jenkins who can take it, Mr. Cookies-on-the-bottom-shelf), nor have I ever said the problems in CBA are the result of bad writers getting away with writing shoddy books. Because I’m dedicated to changing the reputation of Christian books from one of safety to one of excellence in content, I sometimes rail against the realities I’m faced with as an editor to keep fickle book-buyers happy, self-absorbed, and insulated from the world. But we’re agreed about that, or so I’ve thought.
If there are problems with the quality of Christian fiction, it is not a result of poor writing—or I should say, not of poor writing alone. Certainly, there are battles to be won for raising the level of excellence in the writer’s original vision—I suspect some are assuming this is my point—but the fact is, there are bigger problems all the way up and down the publishing neighborhood. Fiction authors who have carved out a spot in CBA receive my praise and admiration for all they’ve contributed—and put up with.
And while I had intended tonight to give a little insider info on some scandalous discoveries I’ve recently made about the Christian publishing industry, I first felt I needed to dispel some of these notions that I’m anti-CBA, or anti-Christian-authors. I could not waste my time to bad-mouth CBA if I didn’t sincerely want to see things change for the better. I’m excited by many of the changes I see happening around the block, and I’m enjoying the strategizing that’s happening on a larger scale than before.
I hope we can join together to work toward a more excellent Christian fiction market, and a more diverse CBA, stories that encompass the truth about light and dark, and narrative that inspires us to break through our assumptions and isolation.