Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Road Less Traveled: Why Do You Write? by Diana Flegal

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”                                       Robert Frost

It is important for writers to ask themselves why they are writing, to have a personal mission statement. Going against the established way of doing things can get you labeled as rebellious when in fact your just different. In Christian circles, it can be tough to map out your own path, and walk in your unique giftings.

I have a propensity to think outside the box and therefore am drawn to those that do so as well. As an agent, I tend to like authors that do not write to the market.  Their stories are compelling, interesting and written well. But they are different. 

In a recent post discussing digital changes in the publishing industry  David Stearman wrote in response: "I'll have to admit that I've been exposed to some low quality writing since the advent of the eBook. But I've also been exposed to some really great stuff that might not have made print in the fear (of financial loss) ridden world of traditional publishing. There's more opportunity out there for all levels of authors now, and hopefully, as in the past, the cream will eventually rise to the top of the bucket."

I am grateful for the small presses that have contracted and published these authors. But in todays drenched market, it is challenging for these authors to find their readers and their sales can be discouraging. We repeat our teacher and mentor Michael Hyatt's words: 'writing may be queen, but platform is king'.  (especially true for nonfiction authors) and our efforts intensify to up our social media stats and we find and share articles of those unknown writers who have 'made it big' to encourage one another. Yet low sales numbers have many authors asking if it is time to throw in the towel. 

This is when we need to remember God's mathematics and our mission statement. 

Luke 15:3-7 ESV/ So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 

Luke 15:8-10 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
In God's economy, it is all about the one.

And that one then often multiplies when they tell another.

Ask yourself why you are writing.  For fame? Fortune? Influence?

Or are you writing because you are a writer and that is what you have to do.

Writers write.   

Writers with a smaller platform can still find their readers online. Consider blogging and offering your chapters in downloadable content in installments.  Be willing to start small. Write articles for online magazines. Is there not a magazine in your genre? Start one.

PERSONAL REQUEST: If you have a desire to lead others to Christ (a worthy goal) please write nonfiction or devotionals. Do not weigh your fiction down with preaching. Great fiction is story that takes us on journeys, makes us ponder, celebrate or provides us a great escape. Very few can skillfully write fiction that contains compelling spiritual content.

But write for that ONE. Chances are you'll be read by many more.

Stay encouraged. Hone your skills and write on!

Happy over the hump day!


Timothy Fish said...

Relating to your personal request, this is one of the things that bothers me about some of the Christian fiction I’ve seen. It appears that some authors think the most important spiritual concept they can cover is the plan of salvation, yet they do it badly. A novel is like a debate. If we can’t present an argument, present opposing arguments, and eventually support one side or the other using story, it isn’t going to come across well.

Sandra Ardoin said...

Encouraging words, Diana.

Pam Halter said...

When I try writing to the market, I fail. Seriously fail. So, I've learned to stick with my own ideas of what I want to write. That's the road less traveled for me, and the words flow when I do that! Of course, they need editing, but they flow. HA!

David Stearman said...

Love the encouragement for the innovator. If it weren't for those "off the beaten path" writers, where would readers be today? In the land of the hackneyed and bored, I think.

Linda Glaz said...

I like that, Diana. Not to be preachy in works. I agree. I find it a very difficult fine line to walk. I think my son summed it up for me when we were talking about Christian athletes, he said, "They can smash each other, Mom. It's their job, but if they lives their lives from a Christian world view, that's what people will see. Not smashing into a guy when it's their job is not respecting their job, period."
That was hard for me to get at first, but I see his point. Ted Dekker certainly isn't preachy, but there's no doubt he writes from a Christian world view and I respect that.

DonnaT. said...

Thank you, Diana, for the reminder. In the midst of publishing changes it's good to focus on why God called me to write and watch that produce the forward momentum I need. On to the next chapter!

Hartline Literary Agency said...

Excellent blog, Diana!

Connie Leonard said...

I agree with your belief that we should write what we're called to write. I've been told about the novel of my heart that books with a strong cancer theme don't sell well. I'm glad that if it's not what is popular at the moment, we do have options such as self-publishing and e-publishing.

"What is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right."

Jeanette Levellie said...

Thank you once again for affirming us in the Spirit of Jesus, Diana.

I like to tell ladies I speak to that we are not the gift, we're just the wrapping. But it's okay to say, "I like this gift you gave me--thank You!"

Part of liking the gifts God gave us is to use them, not hide them under the bed or in a file drawer. Even if only ONE person reads and their thinking is changed a wee bit to discover the bottomless heart of God, our effort isn't wasted.

But you already said that!

Anne Love said...

Well said Diana. Thank you for the refocus.

Connie Cameron said...

Loved this, Diana. We can't have enough reminders about keeping the main thing the main thing: each soul matters to God.