First things first: I really need some folks to go over and like my author page. I’m getting killed by my friend Larry W. Timm. Three days and he’s already tied my numbers. I feel so lonely – sniffle. Just click right here and take ten seconds to like the author page. I’ll shut up for at least 24 hours about it if you do it right now.
Now to the meat of this post.
It’s been at least a week since I’ve told one of my patented Apocryphal stories on the blog (*or worn bunny ears*) so it’s time to reveal yet another chapter in my unpublished-but-growing book. It’s entitled “How Stupid is This Guy?” (My mom has pre-ordered ten copies to pass around. She likes things in writing.)
I was at a luncheon the other day for authors and we were talking about the worst thing that ever happened to us at a writers’ conference. I won the contest – and it raised an interesting question: What is the boundary between creative writing and heresy?
At my very first writers’ conference I put in my name to have an appointment with two agents and a publisher. You ranked them by preference and took what you got. You did it weeks before the conference. Looking back on the whole thing I would possibly have been better off if I’d gone to the lobby and had coffee by myself. After sitting with the aforementioned Mr. Timm, both of us covered in flop sweat and jangling nerves, I was ushered in to make my very first “pitch” as an author. And my very first pitch was to a person from one of the biggest publishers in the Christian world – Moody Publishing.
Right there most sensible people would wonder about my sanity. “Couldn’t you start out with an easier target?”
Nope, right into the deep end of the pool. I have never been so poorly prepared, nor so nervous, in speaking to a prospective employer. I should have rehearsed my “pitch” a few more times. When you pitch to an agent, or a publisher, you have between 10 and 15 minutes to sell yourself and what you’ve written. I’m sure the sweaty fat guy in the sports coat was marginal, but when I wound up and threw the book synopsis I missed the strike zone and hit the little child in the wheel chair who was just getting a shaved ice in the balcony seats.
The extremely polite editor kind of tensed and said, “You realize that’s heretical.”
I still don’t think there’s a really good response to that particular question. The writing wasn’t heretical, but my presentation was so bad that it probably sounded like I had moonshiner zombies hanging out with the Apostles. Or, was it heretical?
That’s the question we all confront as Christian authors: Is the story in accord with Scripture? I know that the book was/is in line with Biblical teachings. But it rocked me back on my heels and I put it “in the drawer” until just a month ago. I was too afraid to chase that book and the dream it held because I’d fumbled around and offended an editor. I even found all sorts of support in The Book of Revelation that showed me that what I’d written wasn’t heretical.
But it can be a fine line. It’s a struggle to turn out a work that’s going to make it in the Christian market without dancing near the edge some times. Is the book too violent? Is it too “far out” in its premise? Is it simply unpalatable to Christians?
Perhaps the question is better asked this way: Is the book in service to God? Will it promote His Kingdom? Will it entice the unsaved to at least look more deeply into Christianity? Will it be a good story that’s moral and uplifting?
I’m still struggling with that whole series of questions. For right now I’m just going to have to trust my faith and try to write good stories. My heart won’t let me do something that isn’t in accord with God’s will. And in that, and Jesus, will I trust.
How about you? Is there a moral dilemma that you’re facing right now? Will you place your trust in Jesus and see what he would have you do?