f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Day 1 of a New Writers Organization: A Faulkner of Writers

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

Monday, June 28, 2004

Day 1 of a New Writers Organization: A Faulkner of Writers

You know how groups of animals have names—a pride of lions, a murder of crows, a parliament of owls, a potterybarn of lemmings—well, we need to think up such a name for writers (beyond conference) because for being such a solitary enterprise we sure do seem to flock together a lot. And that’s good, in most cases, though when all is said and done I do worry that there’s more talking being done than writing. (Here, too, actually. Stop reading this and go write!)

Anyway, beyond that little caveat, we’re going to spend this week (as a group) discussing what’s important to you guys as writers and whether these things are distinct enough for you to marshal together and make an impact on both CBA and ABA stores.

This work is actually being spearheaded by folks outside of faith*in*fiction. My role is to just shoot my big mouth off right now since I have the platform and let you guys do all the heavy lifting.

So here’s my first thought: Don’t Just Make This a Writers Organization

There are lots of writers organizations out there, both secular and Christian. I don’t know that any truly exert huge amounts of influence on an industry. Forming another group of writers, no matter how passionate, won’t really gain you too much of a voice unless members begin churning out bestseller after bestseller. (Which is a possibility. I don’t mean to look askance at your prospective talents.)

What’d I’d consider is making the organization two-tiered and concentrate, especially early on, on reading as well.

Andy Crouch of Books and Culture has a new article out that looks at both the Christian Writers Guild and the Calvin Festival of Faith and Fiction. It’s a good read, and it’s this portion that really god me nodding…
And then there are books—stacks and stacks of books at the tables of dozens of publishers and at least three conference bookstores. Festivalgoers throng the aisles of the exhibit hall, talking, buying, reading. In Colorado Springs, there were—I counted—35 books for sale. Sixteen were by Jerry B. Jenkins. What everyone at the Christian Writers Guild had in common is that they all were, or wanted to be, writers. But what everyone has in common at the Calvin Festival is that they are all readers.
Is it possible to be a writer without being a reader? Yes—but probably not a good one.
This focus on reading is why so much of what we do here is based around books that’ve already been published. It’s why I gave a lecture on “Reading Better for Better Writing” at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

You all seem to be good, insightful readers. That’s a strength you can begin to flex right now.
What I’d love to see is for any new group to begin exerting their influence on the quality of books in a three-fold way.

1. I’d love to see sales of challenging Christian fiction increase so publishers will publish more.

2. I’d love to see someone take up the charge and begin actually critiquing CBA fiction, both for artistry and message.

3. I’d love to see new books come from this group (preferably to my attention, thanks) so that we can publish you.

Writing and publishing is a slow business. WestBow right now is trying to build a fiction wing overnight by poaching authors, running contests, and planning a cut-price low-end fiction line. Best to them, but I’m not that’s the way I’d go about it. In the same way, there’s going to be expectations among any new fiction group to see “results” right away. The most quantifiable results I think you could see would be not on the writing side of things but on the reading side.

We’ll get to other issues later this week, but I wanted to run this flag up the pole and gauge your reaction.