By Cynthia Ruchti
Let’s start a protest. A noisy, raucous protest with banners and signs and eardrum- piercing loud speakers blasting the clever quips of our cause:
• Make books, not war!
• An author’s child goes hungry tonight. Fair pay!
• Hope can’t reach anyone from the back corner of a store!
• God told stories. So do we. God told stories. So do we! (Repeat)
• The forgotten God-stories–Christian fiction.
• What would Jesus do? Read more Christian fiction!
• Readable royalty statements–Is that too much to ask?
(Admittedly, some of the signs are catchier than others.)
Let’s rally outside publishing houses and bookstores in our “I’m not crazy. I’m just talking to my characters” tee shirts and tear book pages into confetti to make our point.
Let’s show the industry we know how to spell hostile and retribution and the ever popular Well, oh yeah? (That’s correct. Y-e-a-h. The oft-used Y-a-h or Y-a are reserved for dialogue spoken by Scandinavians or The Amish.)
But back to the point. We had a point, didn’t we? Yes! This writing gig is hard, and in many ways getting harder.
A protest will leave in its wake enough debris to keep street cleaners in business. It’ll leave a foul odor in the air from the spoiled remnants of our harsh words and harsher thoughts.
But our war is not against flesh and blood. The industry is not our mortal enemy. They are our comrades in arms, even if we disagree with tactics, decisions, and policies.
If we forget that the real enemy of Christian fiction is the enemy of our souls, we’ll exhaust ourselves marching against our own people.
The fight to get independently published books on the shelves of local bookstores is not a battle. It’s a complicated maneuver requiring careful negotiation, thoughtful strategy, and mutual benefit for the allies working to find a solution. It’s not us against them.
The sense that we’re losing ground when a publisher shuts down its fiction department can’t help but rattle us. But the publisher isn’t the enemy. Publishers are part of our own army. We can dislike their decisions, but they’re carrying their own signs in the march in which we’re all engaged.
If Christian fiction thrives–in whatever form–and Christ is glorified through it, we all win. And those who reap the most significant benefits are readers who discover through story that they are not alone, that God cares about their need, that love the way God defines it looks different than what they assumed, that the best heroes pattern their character and actions after Jesus, that real, genuine, count-on-it hope rises from the pages of books written with His principles in mind.
Yes, let’s rally. Let’s link arms to bolster one another, to share ammunition, to help carry the wounded, to strategize solutions, and keep our weapons trained against the enemy of our souls, not one another.
Cynthia Ruchti is the award-winning author of more than 20 books (fiction and nonfiction), and is preparing for the release of two books in 2017–the novel A Fragile Hope (April) and the nonfiction As My Parents Age (June). She serves as ACFW’s professional relations liaison and lives with her husband in the heart of Wisconsin. You can connect with her at cynthiaruchti.com or hemmedinhope.com.