Deep POV: Confessions of a Christian Writer

The ramblings of an emergent-realistic-edgy-working-for-God-and-the-pay-isn’t-that-great-sometimes-confused-christian-fiction writer (uh, that would be me).

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


This comment from Lisa Samson on her blog the other day is exactly what I was trying to say in my last post. Of course, she says it better. :-)

"But as a writer, it takes away some of your freedom to think that you can't necessarily write what's on your heart, what you feel God's led you to write -- instead, there's a person in the back of your head with arms crossed and head shaking from side to side, and you wonder what he or she will think and maybe, just maybe, that will change your message to something that really wasn't supposed to be."

I'll have to get a copy of the book in question.

Author Intrusion: Yeah, what he said

M y W r i t e r s G r o u p: Revolution: Applied Values

Okay, so I guess I am officially not very spiritual. Because when Mick Silva asked this question on his blog, I gave the least "godly" answer--at least in my opinion. I think it has more to do with how literal I am, though, rather than a lack of spirituality. His premise was that you'd been given a contract by a major Christian publishing company and then were presented with some requests for changes. You were asked this: "They want you to soften every edge and take out whole sections of real, earthy characterization, essential to conveying the depth of the character's redemption at the end (exactly the places you were most worried about)."

So, I said that I'd have several conversations with the editor, but to me, if the pub house is asking you to soften every edge and take out whole sections of real, earthy characterization, what good are you doing yourself or them if you give into the request? Maybe other writers' novels are different, but I am writing my current wip with LOTS of earthy characterization and so many edges it just might prick someone's finger. In fact, along around chapter three, I decided that it wasn't a CBA book at all, and have behaved accordingly.

As I've said on many occasions, I have nothing against writing books that, basically, preach to the choir. I think that's legitimate and I support writers who do it. However, I don't think that's what God wants me doing and, let's face it, you can't talk to the big, old world at large in "Christianese" and expect them to listen. The upshot is a very, er ... earthy book, that seems scandalous and probably is, especially to those notorious CBA-bookstore grandmas. So, that's where I was coming from. I just want to write the book God's given me to write and I don't want it hacked up because I'm not writing their idea of a Christian book. I would rather thank them profusely, gather my manuscript, and move on. I'm hoping somewhere out in the general market world, there's a place for my story and me.

M y W r i t e r s G r o u p: Revolution: Applied Values

Tuesday, November 02, 2004 Books: Florida

I started thinking about what Mark said in the comments yesterday, about Christine Schutt. And I agree with him. She did handle herself well despite the way the NYT treated her--not very well, to be honest. I don't know if I would've been so gracious. So, I looked up the book that got her nominated, Florida, and it sounds interesting although I'll probably wait until I can buy it used or in paperback. Here's the description or you can click on the link and read it at Amazon:

Florida is the portrait of the artist as a young woman, an orphan's story full of loss and wonder, a familiar tale told in original language. Alice Fivey, fatherless at age seven, is left in the care of her relatives at ten when her love-wearied mother loses custody of her and submits to the sanitarium and years of psychiatric care. A namesake daughter locked in the orphan's move-around life, she must hold still while the seamstress pins her into someone not her mother. But they share the same name, so she is her mother, isn't she?

Alice finds consolation in books and she herself is a storyteller who must build a home for herself word by right word. Florida is her story, recalled in brief scenes of spare beauty and strangeness as Alice moves from house to house, ever further from the desolation of her mother's actions, ever closer to the meaning of her experience. In this most elegiac and luminous novel, Schutt gives voice to the feast of memory, the mystery of the mad and missing, and above all, the life-giving power of language. Books: Florida

Monday, November 01, 2004

The New York Times > Magazine > Questions for Christine Schutt: Prize Fight

I am still trying to decide how I feel about this interview in the New York Times Magazine. A writer named Christian Schutt was nominated for the National Book Award. She is apparently just the opposite of what the NYT thinks she should be: an obscure writer whose nominated book sold little more than a thousand copies. Wow, that is not a lot of books. Even in the CBA, you might sell a few more than a thousand. That she is a single-mother who struggled for twenty years to raise her sons and find time to write and has now done so at the age of 56 cheers me immensely. That her first publisher, Knopf, who published her collection of short stories, wasn't interested in this book, doesn't cheer me. That she only sold a thousand copies is depressing although I imagine that will change thanks to the nomination. And the fact that the NYT is looking down their nose at her? Well, it makes me want to go out an buy her book!

The New York Times > Magazine > Questions for Christine Schutt: Prize Fight

This is my granddaughter, who just turned five. Another gorgeous picture! Posted by Hello

Noah at sunset--isn't this beautiful? My daughter, the photography major, took it! Posted by Hello