|Painted by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622|
Because it is the gift that God and I open together.
When I first started writing, I prayed for direction to write for the American Booksellers Association (ABA) the secular audience if you wish, or for the Christian Book Association (CBA).
- ABA definition: The American Booksellers Association is a non-profit trade association founded in 1900 that promotes independent bookstores in the United States. (United States being the larger audience sets the tone)
- CBA definition: CBA (formerly known as the Christian Booksellers Association) is a trade association that was established in 1950.
Both associations have specific guidelines. Granted ABA has the wider audience and covers a multitude of categories, but CBA is significantly large too.
I knew—starting out—that God works through both ABA fiction and CBA fiction and non-fiction. I could just as easily use my writing gift to target the secular audience as the Christian audience.
My first manuscript attempts focused on the ABA audience because I wanted to reach the world with the message of Christ’s salvation for all mankind. That is my motive for writing. Always has been, always will be, but a book like this must be handled with delicate gloves. You can’t blatantly (in most cases) share your faith openly. You’ve got to give your Christian message in little sips for those readers who do not share your faith. You’ve got to show your deeper message in metaphors, symbols, and a darn good story.
Not that CBA fiction can get by with mediocre stories, but at least in that category you can come right out and state your message plainly. Albeit, written well and not preachy.
I eventually chose to write for the CBA audience for the simple reason that I cannot write without stating plainly that I believe Jesus Christ born in a manger, was placed into the womb of a young Jewish virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit. That Jesus grew up to be our savior by obeying God the Father to die on the cross to pay the atonement for the sins of mankind, and that He rose again on the third day to stand at the right hand of God forevermore. I believe in the salvation offered through Jesus Christ.
Yep, you got it, a simple version of the catechism. As I started out on my writing career I found I simply could not hold back on what I believe. It just pours out of me like a river.
Like Rachel said last week, we are writers. No matter how hard we try to give up writing, we can’t (because it is a difficult road and hardly any monetary benefits). Writing is in our genes, whether we write for ABA or CBA. And there are many other benefits other than money. Here are some I have enjoyed:
- Friendship with many other authors and artists.
- A very dear friendship with my critique partner Rachel who is like my writing sister.
- The stretching of my faith in God as I keep going on my writing journey in spite of the challenges.
- My growing trust in Him as I look back and see the amazing things He has done through my surrendered gift.
- The joy I have in His presence as together we pound out a good story.
- And most especially, the readers of my books. What joy it is to share the deep thoughts of my mind with others through the beauty of literary art.
I believe I will remain a CBA author for as long as the Lord directs, but I wholly support those authors and artists who direct their art toward the wider audience. If their message is presented more subtly than mine is, then I applaud them. They are reaching people that I may not ever be able to reach. I’m happy with the choice I made, to write for the Christian audience. In my daily prayers, I come to God like the little boy and his basket lunch of fish and buns, and say,
“Here, Lord, please take the things I have written—this writing gift that You and I have opened together—and bless it by getting it into the hands of those You want to reach with my surrendered heart and mind. I pray You will use this writing gift you gave me to glorify You, to expand Your fame, to open the eyes of the blind, to give comfort to those who are hurting. To help people reach out to receive Your tender love and compassion. To see that Your mercies really are new every morning.”
This is my prayer for you too and your creative gift.
- If you are a writer, then write.
- If you are a singer, then sing.
- If you are a painter, then paint.
Give your gift back to God and ask Him to help you use it for His glory.