Monday, July 26, 2004

here's an idea

How to combat the lack of quality in Christian writing: 

Instead of trashing Christian writers, why not write that "something brilliant" yourself?

I've been a real trasher in the past, I admit it.  Well, you know what?  I'm done.  I'm just going to fight bad writing by becoming a better writer, not pointing out bad writing.  Obviously, from what I read on the internet, there are enough people taking care of that already.  And maybe there's a place for it, probably there is because there have to be the pricklers that cause the artists to take stock.  But it isn't a place I want to live.  I can't be a critic and an artist.  (Unless it's being a critic of my own work, in which case, I'm as ruthless as can be.)  It kills something in my spirit that I just can't afford to be without.  Maybe a better person could walk that line.  I can't.

IOW, I'm going to put up and shut up.




Blogger Jules Quincy Stephens said...

Hi Lisa:

What are the phrases? Armchair Quarterback. Backseat driver.

The Lord has really convicted me on this very subject, too. It's so easy to point out all that's wrong with the world -- in this case, CBA fiction -- but what am I doing about it?

There's a discussion going on right now on a Christian writers Yahoo list about "What's your grammar pet peeve?" People are more than happy to point out EVERYONE ELSE'S errors! No one says, "I do this, and this is what I'm going to do about it." I started to write something in response, but then stopped. No, not this time. Not this time. Just improve yourself, Jules.So, on Author Intrusion, Jules Quincy Stephens hereby declares to turn lemons into lemonade. The focus will be on improving my own writing, considering everything I read a learning experience.

Jules, the Cliche Queen

July 26, 2004 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

Amen, Jules! The front lines of excellence start with our own pens.

Raising my glass to you, sis!

July 26, 2004 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Brad Whittington said...

I'm not going to let the girls outdo me. I'll up the ante. Not only do I agree to everything said above, I open the floor for anyone to bring to my attention in my published works examples of bad writing I should correct in future endeavors. Either in personal email or in public forum. I'm tough; I can take it. ;-)

I say this knowing full well that my first attempt is significantly overwritten in spots. The sequel suffers less from this ailment, but still shows signs. I'm wrestling with the third as we speak.

July 26, 2004 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

Oh, man, overwriting was definitely my hallmark. I've just learned how to couch it in stream-of-consciousness-self-deprecation-full-blown-admission-of-the-fact. Let's talk inability to sustain a scene past 3 pages! Me! While I do some snappy imagery, it's so NOT gorgeous, and so much lackluster stuff inhabits the spaces inbetween it isn't even funny. And my writing never has that haunting quality to it. It's just . . . kinda cute. I definitely need to deepen things. Desperately. In a nuts and bolts mode, Darn it, why do I find so many unnecessary dialogue tags AFTER the book is published? Why don't I see these the first million times I go through it? And everything sits or lays.

Also, I wonder . . . am I heavy-handed about God? I'm really pondering this of late. I mean, honestly, God's always popping up in my thoughts, which is why He frequently pops up in my characters' thoughts. But is this preachy and indicative of what needs to change?

I mean, Flannery O' Connor I am SO NOT!

July 26, 2004 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger Katy said...

May I join? I've been too much sidetracked from writing recently, by the allure of reading/responding to CBA critiques.

Since I'm still a fledgling novelist (having only completed by first and begun my second), I stand to be derailed from what I believe I should be doing (writing) if I dwell too much on how insufficient I obviously am.

Lisa, I just finished "The Living End," and I marked all the most beautiful imagery, wonderful lines of dialogue and other things I fell in love with. Even though my husband and I were both committed Christians when we married 27 years ago, I so identified with Pearly's relationship with her hubby. I'll write you a note sometime to tell you how this book affected me--here I'll just say "thank you." Really.

July 26, 2004 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger MtLaurel said...

Great post, Lisa, with an important idea! And so representative of that thoughtful, generous, forgiving heart of yours! How I wish your words could sweep the entire CBA industry and be taken to heart, making a real difference not only for our writers, but for our musicians and other artists as well.

Bless you!


July 26, 2004 at 7:48 PM  
Blogger Brad Whittington said...

I agree with Katy, "The Living End" is full of great writing. As I read it I saw maybe half-a-dozen words that I thought "Hmm, I wouldn't have used that word." But the thing rocked from front to back.

I've just started Songbird, finished Part One last night. First thing I thought was, "Wow, why didn't I think of having a character that overdid the religion side slightly. What a great idea!" Haven't found any words I would have changed.

I'm going to let Lisa have her sabbatical funk if she wants while I just soak up all her incredible writing. Maybe it will rub off.

July 27, 2004 at 2:55 AM  
Blogger Deborah said...

Good post, Lisa. I don't think people who haven't actually written a novel have any idea how hard it is to do, even badly. It's easy to criticize writers and compare them to our lofty tastes, until we actually commit some words to the page and cringe. Oh my goodness, I can't even write as well or as consistently as the authors I love to pan. Real exercise in humility. Most people assume that, if they can speak, they can write. But that's like thinking because you can hum a tune that you are a singer people will want to listen to. It takes years and years of dedication, practice and training to be great writer, or singer, or piano player.

July 27, 2004 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger Jules Quincy Stephens said...


I haven't read The Living End yet. But Lisa, I can tell you my friend Donna (you know her) CRIED her eyes out while reading TLE. NO, not because it was so bad. But because your words deeply moved her.

Brad, I haven't read your book yet, either. And I'm reluctant to read it just to nit-pick :-), but Lisa gave it a glowing recommendation, so I will definitely be getting that soon, too.

I think I'm just burned-out. How much negative energy have I used in bashing stuff? Sure, I still hate Left Behind, and I still consider one particular CBA romance author my arch-nemesis (I'll not mention names). But how has any of that changed the universe? It's wasted time, for sure. *sigh* I can go on and on, but I'll refrain and just conclude with: God has been teaching me some important lessons.

Off to write.


July 27, 2004 at 9:24 AM  

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