Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Your Writing Platform: The Heart of Your Writing

“The power of the pen does not reside in the ink but in the character of the person doing the writing.” —Aaron Fruh, The Decree of Esther

Over the past six years, Beth’s writing tagline, Writing Honestly, has pushed our critique group members to reveal stuff we wish we did not have to confess. As Beth calls them, “Not our shining moments.” When Tiffany comments, “Tell me more,” I know she wants me to dig deeper. Ouch!

When I was an editor for Harvest House Publishers, I said, “I know which Christian authors love Christ and write honestly.” Right or wrong, how did I come to this conclusion? By the motives they expressed to me or how they treated their editor and publisher.

Recently, Beth Vogt contracted with Rob Eager of Wildfire Marketing to draw out her writing platform, value statements, tagline, branding, etc., for Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood After 35. And Rob is awesome! As we discuss her weekly assignments, it motivates my thinking. What is my brand? My writing platform? My passion?

From Here to Eternity
I’m all over the map when it comes to my writing interests. I create Bible studies and write about sex, solo parenting, gossip, home improvement, Bible animals, archeology, identity—to name a few. I actually took FIVE book proposals to Writing for the Soul. Someone advised, “You have to focus, Scoti.” When my creativity feels forced into a one-dimensional branding platform, it screams, “Let me outta here.”

I expressed my frustration to Gloria Rose, a friend, mentor and awesome life coach. If I were to describe Gloria’s passion, it’s all about drawing out your heart. So, together we explored my heart.

When Christians Don’t Make Sense—God Does—But I’m Still Working on That
One of my pet peeves is when a ministry, a writer or an individual says or writes something for public consumption and acts differently privately. I struggle with people who call themselves Christians—but aren’t. Now I’m not talking about perfection, religious expectations or real battles to overcome character flaws.

It’s about the disconnect between what they say and how they behave and treat others. Christ identified words versus actions as hypocrisy. I come by this spiritual wrestling match honestly. As a child, I embarrassed my ministerial parents by blurting out childlike observations about church members, which usually proved far too accurate.

Things I Never Learned in Sunday School
In my former life, I was a pastor’s wife and was privy to the inner workings of churches—gossip, immorality, divorces, church splits, incest. Even my minister husband was unfaithful. You name, I probably grieved it.

The worst parts of my experience were the downers—people who nurse grudges, refuse to forgive, malign others, misjudge others’ hearts, crucify the pastor, and rebuff reconciliation. Their head knowledge and know-it-all pet theologies control, shame and judge others' thoughts, actions and beliefs—all in the name of Jesus. To me, that feels like Christian jihadism.

I had the fortune or misfortune to be involved with media ministries power-driven by mega-personalities. It was humbling and an honor to minister and encourage thousands of people whose letters described every kind of struggle or wrongdoing.

However, when my trust in the integrity of one ministry was betrayed by the disconnect between their public persona and internal politics, it proved more devastating than the discovery of my husband’s adulterous relationship with a friend.

My faith in Christ—not God—faltered.

Instead of rejecting hypocrisy, I rejected “their” Christ. The name of Christ physically repulsed me. I clung to God. A devotional written by an Orthodox Rabbi became my lifeline to God. When I sang praise and worship songs at church, I changed the name of Jesus or Christ to Lord or God. I could not say Jesus’s name without feeling nauseous. Sometimes I sat in the pew wishing pastors would tell me more about God instead of only going on and on about his son.

How could someone who had dearly loved Christ since she was five and believed he had a special purpose for her life think these thoughts? Because of the character of people who call themselves Christians. Before it gained popularity, I no longer referred to myself as a Christian. I am a follower of God and student of Christ.

Connecting the Dots
Which brings me back to my writing platform. I want to thank every ministry where I worked for the skills and insights developed under their tutelages. Everything I write underscores one underlying theme: Connecting the Dots.

Today, I maintain a healthy skepticism about magnetic personalities, individuals or ministries who want me to support their passion or agenda at the expense of my integrity, God's calling and purpose for my life, and my personal examination of the Bible. God desires that I pursue the spiritual DNA that he encoded in my heart—not theirs.

Are all my dots connected? Nope. I wish. It’s my desire. I confess…it will be my lifelong struggle and pursuit. I hope I can truthfully document how God’s ongoing changes of my frailties better reflect him and his son. Hopefully, my journey will affirm and encourage others.

Writers…what or whose passion are you pursuing?

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