The Public Awaits
Updated: Feb 28, 2020
Back when I was a library-dwelling adolescent imagining myself as an author, I pictured cozy cups of tea amid the furious clacking of a keyboard. I dreamed of the thrill of success buried like a needle in a haystack of disappointment. And I longed for the moment when I would, at last, hold my precious book—my own words stamped onto joy-scented pages— in my hands.
In the four years that I’ve been pursuing writing as a profession, I’ve had my share of tea and disappointment as well as few kernels of success. But having a hard copy of my own book is still on the horizon. And while I’m itching for the day it finally comes, I’ve noticed that it is arriving on the heels of some events I never pictured as a bookworming youngster.
I’m not just writing books, I’m planning a book launch. This includes a press release, public appearances, signings, NETWORKING!
Now, I am far from being known or influential, and I don’t quite expect to be—even after I cross over to the aptly-named realm of The Published. But still, I wonder what would happen if even a small group of strangers read my book and thought it worth talking about. I wonder if they would herald it for vivid imagery and sparkling prose. Or, will my work end up being cast aside like so many others, considered mediocre, Young Adult drivel? Could it be even worse? Would the complaints of the readers be not about the words I’ve written but with me as a person?
I’d like to say it doesn’t matter. I’d like to say I don’t care. But I do. To an extent, that’s not a bad thing. Caring what others think often keeps people from acting like jerks.
But there is more to it, a delicate and crucial balance between, on one hand, being too preoccupied with the opinions of others and, on the other, being carefree to the point of making mistakes. It’s a line that, in recent years, I been learning to toe.
In building an audience, making friends in communities, even gaining respect or renown, people will have opinions about my work and about me.
And as I make friends and gain respect, God taps me on the head with his wise finger and whispers, “You know they could all turn on you, right?” It’s not a discouragement. It’s not to warn me against forming relationships or stepping forward. But I do need to be reminded of what matters, and it’s not the fleeting praise or appreciation of others.
If you pursue the same goals of publication, you must know we wade in dangerous waters.
So, for myself and any aspiring public figures, before we build any platform, climb any ladder, shoot for any star, write any book, we must be sure we’re holding fast to the one who sent us.
Because our empires could crumble.
Could we stand on the rubble while he asks if it was worth it? Would we do it again if he told us to? Could we say yes? Could we mean it? Could we leave the world as naked as we entered it and still bless the name of the Lord? (Job 1:21)
“Celebrity status” murders people when they realize it will never be enough.
The internet destroys lives when it is bent on the mob mentalities of the public with no regard for temperance.
All of us who grew up in Sunday School probably heard that we ought to “live for an audience of one.” But do we? I think we need to. Or we will fade far faster than our Instagram stories.
And so, I leave you with this cheery thought:
It could all go terribly, abysmally wrong. But that doesn’t ultimately matter.
We have to do our best to walk in a manner worthy, in love and self-control but also in bold declarations of the goodness of God. We need to be caring more about the opinion of our creator than about anyone else’s (Which is not a licence to hurl digital stones at those who disagree with us, but that's another post). We need to make sure our presence, our work, and our voice represents his love above all else.
Most importantly, we must remember that God’s mercies are new each day. Our mistakes don’t define his opinions of us, and he will never leave a bad Amazon review.