I’ve spent the past two weeks in Colorado on a work trip. It was a busy one which didn’t leave much time or energy for writing, much less blogging, so that’s something by way of an excuse for my recent silence. Here’s a picture:
Colorado is a reflective sort of place, whether you find yourself huddled in a tumbledown shack on the windswept eastern plains, sipping coffee beside a fragrant campfire in the majestic shadow of the Rocky Mountains, or sitting at a computer, pounding out reports for the Army inside what used to be the meat market of a gutted commissary.
Three guesses which one was me. In the course of reflecting, I came to a decision I’d been mulling over a long time.
I joined the American Christian Fiction Writers a few years ago, thinking it would be a good thing to network with fellow authors who share my faith. What I discovered was an organization that espoused Christianity but didn’t share my vision for writing, and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon. So, I’m going to let my membership expire.
It’s odd, because interacting with other writers usually energizes me. With anything ACFW-related, I’ve felt inhibited and self-conscious. It’s something beyond favored genres, writing styles, personalities, or even theology. It’s a culture of conformity, and I’ve found it toxic to my creativity. Trying to “go along and get along,” doing things their way and supporting their agenda, might make my stories more marketable, but I doubt it will make them better.
There are plenty of good people, and good writers, within ACFW, but aligning myself with an organization dedicated to working hand-in-glove with the Christian publishing and retailing industry makes as much sense as, were I a chicken, joining a fraternity dedicated to warm relations with Tyson Foods. What’s good for the meat-packer is not always in the best interests of the livestock. Likewise, and I think history bears this out, what’s good for the publisher and bookseller is not necessarily what’s good for the writer or the art of literature.
I’ve already pared back my involvement with other, smaller affiliations within the Christian writing community, for similar reasons. The groups inevitably turn inward, exchanging mutual affirmations and building a bland consensus about what stories should say and how they should say it. Again, these aren’t co-dependent encounter groups populated by nitwits. Their motivations are admirable, and many delightful, talented people can be found within. They’re simply not working for me right now. I will continue to actively network with individual Christian writers, but I’m through with associations, organizations, movements, affiliations, fellowships, brother/sisterhoods, lodges, clubs, guilds, orders, aggregations, conglomerations, mafias, and circles.
If you want to talk, drop me a line. You know where to find me.