Thursday, June 22, 2006

About That Personality Thing . . .

After my tongue-in-cheek post yesterday, I wanted to talk more seriously about my opinion on the whole “Personality” issue of authors in CBA.

I’ve heard a lot of talk against the whole personality thing. How we shouldn’t elevate people to stardom, how that gets us off track, isn’t Christian, etc. Some of you may feel that way, and I’d really like to hear your opinions in the comments. As for me? I disagree.

Yeah, yeah, I make fun of it. How can I resist? It’s the fact that the word “Personality” is actually used. I think many of us tend to cringe at the word, yet ICRS uses it with such blithe flagrancy. Well, at least they’re honest. Might as well call it what it is. But really, all it means is that the author is a recognizable name—like a TV personality. Is that so bad?

Okay, still sounds like a target for teasing to me, but I can live with the term.

So—what does this issue mean to use as Christians? Look, publishing’s a business. We have to remember that ICRS, with all its glitz and in-your-face banners, etc. is for the bookseller. It’s their convention. And what authors are booksellers going to be most interested in? The ones whose books move off their shelves. The ones who make them money. After all, Christian bookselling is a rough business these days, and every dollar counts.

Enter the publishers at the show, who want to attract said booksellers to their booths. What’s the best way to attract them? By putting up banners of a brand new, unknown author? Of course not. By publicizing the names the booksellers best recognize. By throwing a party where those “Personalities” can meet the booksellers. Once the booksellers are in the booth, or at the party, the publishing staff can perhaps talk to them about other, newer authors whom they should be watching.

When I’m at ICRS and see the big banners and names of certain authors splashed everywhere—I don’t think, “bad, bad.” I rejoice for those folks. God has granted them a large audience for their work. A large audience, and all the publicity that goes with it, isn’t immoral or unchristian. In fact, I say it can be very Christian. Think of the readers these authors can reach.

Now, with that kind of success comes great responsibility. And therein lies the rub. A “personality” author can become too focused on stardom and start to push God aside. But so can a completely unknown author. Whether you have the stardom or not, you can be far too occupied with it. Bigheaded if you have it, jealous if you don’t. So it’s not the stardom in itself. It’s how it’s handled.

From the publication of my first Christian book, I have prayed this prayer: “God, don’t let me be more successful than I can handle.” (Meaning spiritually.) God’s given me a certain amount of success, but not huge stardom. And guess what. That prayer has proved as dangerous as I expected it would be. As my success grows, God has jolly well seen that my ego’s been pushed down a peg or two. And no doubt I have a lot more pegs to go. I’ve made some very humbling mistakes—some quite public. It’s no fun to be humbled. But I’ll tell you, God is merciful. Humbling is a good thing, a God thing. I pray I will always embrace it.

So I can rejoice for the “Personality” authors. I can be happy for them and content with myself at the same time. Meanwhile, I continue working hard and marketing myself hard, trying to build my own success. But the results are in God’s hands, and I’ll accept whatever He chooses to give me. If I’m a “Personality” too someday, that’s cool. I’ll just pray all the harder to keep my focus on God.

I’ll also do some shopping for a mighty fine outfit for the party.

And I’ll forever make fun of the P word.


Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

God allows us to rejoice in our successes. He said not to hide our light under a bushel.

Let it shine, girl...let it shine!

David Meigs said...

I’d give you as big of a “P” as anybody. You are anointed by God, and nothing can hold you back.

Now, keep practicing those coy head tilts..., and that lashes thing.

Wandering Writer said...

You asked for opinion...At the Write to Publish conference this month the comments I heard were expressing disappointment that "personalities" who don't write themselves are promoted while the ghost writer is lucky to get mentioned. I thought that was what you were referring to at first. I don't have a problem with people who have earned their way to the party through good writing and hard-working,clever marketing. But I am surprised to find you were passed over. It's gonna be a dull party.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I'll second that. A very dullsville, boring, unvaried, unimaginative, flat, bland, humdrum, lifeless, jejune, stale, dreary, and characterless party without you Brandilyn.

Karen Eve said...

Actually I have no problems with the designation of personality or whatever they want to call it. That is a way of leveraging their investments. It doesn't mean that the booksellers are 'forgetting' about their new or smaller authors. It's just business. As you said Brandilyn, with the designation goes the responsibility. However, I would think they could find a less corny term, such as 'Big Stars'. :) Maybe we need to think up a better term for ICRS. I'm sure they'll be forever beholding to us. :))

Cara Putman said...

I think this is a core issue. Why do we write? Do we write to become the next big name or because God has called us to write these stories that we pray will impact a life or lives? I pray that if I become published someday, I don't lose my focus on who I strive to please with all my efforts -- writing and the rest of my life.

And the wonderful thing is that God uses us all the time in ways that we aren't aware of. I think the most humbling part of getting to heave someday will be learning of all the times we said or did something without realizing the eternal consequences the act or phrase held.

John Robinson said...

I dunno if I even HAVE a "personality". Maybe I do, and it's so bland as to be off the radar. The one thing I absolutely do know for sure (no brag, just fact) is that God's given me the ability to write. And if I had to choose between being a twinkle-in-the-eye racontuer, or being the scribe the Lord's called me to be ... well, no contest. At the end of the day, at the final tally, I simply want know I've made a difference.

Kristy Dykes said...

Thought I'd post this here (as well as on yesterday's comments). I wanted to make sure you saw it. (I've been in Dothan, Alabama, at the Dykes's family reunion with 60 others.)

Thanks, Brandilyn, for your transparency, and for your humor. You brightened my day.

Shoot, not only am I NOT a Personality after years of trying, I don't have the big book contracts you do!

You asked, "What do I have left to do? To try? ...perhaps I shall plant myself in front of my hotel room mirror. Practicing yet again. Hoping against hoping that in 2007, that bright and shining year . . ."

Kristy: If I were you, I'd plant myself in front of my mirror, take out those contracts, and run my fingers over those silvery symbols $$. And then I'd smile as wide as a dinner plate.

But me, being Kristy Dykes, who hasn't achieved her dreams in publishing, well, to quote you, Brandilyn, I'm not bitter...

Please laugh.


This is a joke.

I think.

Kristy Dykes said...

Personality, according to one definition in Webster's, means "excellence of personal and social traits; also: a person having such quality."

Brandilyn, you ARE a Personality. Excellence of personal traits? You always wear in-style, jazzy clothing. GRIN (First thing that came to my mind.)

Excellence of social traits? You're fun and funny and helpful and empathetic and talented and..

Hope this doesn't come across as sappy, but, that's lil ol' sweetie me, and besides, it's true.

You'll always be a Personality to us BGs. And ACFWers. And no doubt more...

Anonymous said...

Cara said, "I think the most humbling part of getting to heave someday..."

I know that was a typo. You meant "heaven," not "heave." But it made me laugh as is, and I thought, any day I get to heave is a most humbling day indeed.

As for the Personality Party, I'm surprised anyone is going to ICRS (Internal Christian Revenue Service) at all this year. Haven't they heard? I won't be there. Amazing. It's like my presence, or lack thereof, doesn't even matter.

At least we can all look forward to getting to heave, someday.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

<< "God, don’t let me be more successful than I can handle." >>

That's an awesome prayer, B. Mind if I borrow it?

Oh, and I believe this is my first post on your blog...although I've been reading it on occasion. *peeking around corners for lurkers in the dark alleys* Never know when one might jump out at you...or when you'll find a dead body in your path. :)

Anyway, back to the post. Loved what you said about stardom. Bigheaded if you've got it and jealous if you don't...all if it's *not* handled properly. I admit, I love the limelight. Stick me on stage, and I can be a real ham. (hmm, reminds me of another certain redhead I know *g*) But, I've also had my fair share of humbling experiences when I've made blunders and public mistakes. It's all good, though. And it's why I love the CBA so much. No matter what you've done, your support system will forgive you, lend you a hand to get up, dust you off and let you start all over again.

Who would want the backbiting competition of the ABA once you've tasted this and all God can do here?

Tiff/Amber Fiction-filled Life

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

A teaspoon of humor makes the truth go down, I'm thinking.

Your post yesterday had me giggling and laughing, then you follow it up today with such right-perspective stuff.

Thanks, Brandilyn.

D. Gudger said...

BC, I live in Denver and would be more than honored to show you around while the others "party".

In the BG book, you da bomb!

(I'm serious about meeting you - even if for coffee or a quick bite. Let me know and I can send contact info)

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

E-mail me, Darcie!

Camy Tang said...

God, don’t let me be more successful than I can handle.

I don't always comment, but I wanted to say thanks for reminding me of that. It was like a drop of honey on my heart when I read it.

When my manuscript when to committee, I prayed something similar--"Lord, if this isn't going to be for Your glory, then I don't want it." Hardest prayer I ever prayed.

But I felt so much peace after praying that. Your post brought all that peace back to me. And reminded me I need to keep praying for humility or else I'll end up like one of those P's you make fun of.


Pamela S. Meyers said...

Thank you for your post. I'm a day short on reading it, but the message was so meaningful to me. I constantly struggle with getting puffed up from what I do in ministry because I'm so out there in front of people. I interpret for the deaf people at church and love music. People often come up to me after a concert and tell me how much they enjoy watching me and how well I do what I do. It's a struggle. Then reality sets in. These comments are from people who don't know a lick of sign language. They have no clue if I'm conveying the concepts correctly or not. I'm doing this for God to be sure, but the old self wants to creep in. Same goes for writing. If I am ever published in fiction it will be when God knows I won't struggle about who gets the glory. When that call comes saying I have a contract it will definitely be a God thing, not a Pam thing. I wrote about this in my blog a couple days ago on June 12th. I take your words to heart, and like the others, really appreciate your prayer. I couldn't have said it any better.


Anonymous said...

I doubt I'll even think about being boastful, I'll just be relieved it finally happened. :)

I do hope to always remain humble whether I publish or not (I'm thinking the lesson would be stronger if I was actually pubbed though don't you think? Picture batted eyes and a sweet smile lol).

Daniel I Weaver said...

Brandilyn, I love your prayer. That should become a mantra of some sort to kickstart these conferences. I know I'll be praying a similar prayer every time I even think about the possibilities.

As for personality, I guess one of teh best things one can do is remember that God made us who and how we are. Perhaps not having that "personality" makes some people more approachable and might allow them to experience an interaction with someone to bashful to approach a personality. Only He knows, but five years after "it" happens and we look back, it will make perfect sense and we'll all say...OH, so THAT's why!