f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: CBA Stands for “Can’t Bristle Anyone”

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

CBA Stands for “Can’t Bristle Anyone”

Yesterday, I posited the question: If CBA Fiction is a genre and genres are distinguished from each other by focusing on an aspect of the writing process, then what aspect does CBA Fiction focus on.

At the time, I assumed my answer would be very simple: message. CBA Fiction is message-driven fiction. In the comments, you’ll discover at least one other person who agrees with that. In 24 hours, my tune has changed just slightly. I’ve gone from a major to minor key. I think message is dead important, but I think the name itself reveals the most important aspect to the genre. In my mind, CBA Fiction is audience driven fiction.

If mystery is a pure distillation of novel as plot, then CBA Fiction is a pure distillation of novel as product. We’re literally naming our customer base in the name of our genre. It’s just insane.

Why the customer more than the message? Because even the message—Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Hallelujah—isn’t enough if told in the “wrong” way. Want proof? Well…take a look around. This is proof. I’m here because message isn’t enough. If message was enough, then “not Christian enough” wouldn’t exist. Instead, it has to be the “right” message, as determined by our buying audience.

Pick an angry verb, and that’s what this whole set-up does it me. It chaps me. It irritates me. Etc. And yet, at the end of the day, who puts food on my table? Who’s going to help me afford my daughter’s upcoming surgery? Darn it, who gives me the quarters and nickels I collect to buy wine…an action that, if it occurs to often in our stories, but cause the nickels and quarters to stop coming. There’s a bitter irony in here that I spend half my waking life trying not to think about.

Do you know what will make that bitter irony disappear and stop the chapping? Seeing the industry move beyond “CBA.” That’s the only thing. And, as I’ve said before, it’s headed in the right direction. So that helps me sleep at night. Well, that and the pillow-top queen mattress bought and paid for through blood money earned in the heart of the CBA industry. What a weird life.