by Dr. Patrick Johnston
I have a problem.
No sooner do I step out of the bathroom on Sunday morning does my wife take one look at me and pronounce with the authority of the Queen of England, “That doesn’t match!”
Though I really don’t see it, most of the time I just blame the curse of Adam and take the path of least resistance. However, deep down inside, I resent it. Why can’t the world – and the Queen – see things my way and be entertained with my spots and stripes? Why don’t they appreciate my “Bob the Tomato” yellow and red tie? Why can’t I be a trend-setter instead of a trend-follower? What’s the problem with a little diversity in pattern and color? Just look at creation – isn’t God diversely creative?
As an author of one non-fiction book and six novels of four different genres, I’m getting the same type of response from agents and publishers – “Your diversity is not a plus” – “Pick your color and stick with it” – “The variety in your literary portfolio is frightening to industry professionals looking for marketable authors.”
In the past six months, I’ve finished two film scripts – an historical fiction and a thriller – and three novels – a thriller novella, a medical suspense, and another Amish fiction. My next novel will be historical fiction. Call me stubborn. No, I haven’t discarded my Bob the Tomato tie either.
Having subsidy-published or self-published my previous seven books, I was thrilled to finally sign a contract last month with a small publisher for my Amish fiction! (Insert big-band trumpet ditty here.) Later that week, a reputable agent said that his editorial team gave my proposal for my medical suspense novel “high marks” and asked to see the manuscript. However, when he discovered that I just signed a contract for my Amish fiction novel, he gave me the ubiquitous “That doesn’t match” speech, warning me that it may be difficult to secure a deal if I don’t pick a genre and stick with it.
I freely admit, I am as odd as a muffler on a horse carriage. I am a full-time physician, a father of nine home-educated children, a pro-life leader, a marriage counselor, a public school lecturer, a Christian apologist in formally moderated debates, a street preacher, a musician, a prepper with two thousand square foot garden, and an aspiring film-maker – what do you expect but diversity? I have a half a dozen different genres of music in my car and office, but there’s one thing they all have in common. From praise and worship, to rap, to folk, to heavy metal, to hip hop – all my music, like my books, are profoundly Christian. They prescribe the right remedies for what ails us – biblical remedies. Genres are simply tools to reach lost and hurting people with truths that transform and redeem.
I accept that I may have to change my tie before church on Sunday morning, but I’m still putting it on if I like it. I may have to hide my pet snakes when my mother-in-law visits, but I’m not getting rid of ’em. I may have to remove my Skillet CD out of the CD player when my wife and I are on a date, but I’m not taking it to Goodwill. I may have to pick a different pen name for each genre. I may not be a good example for authors who want to make a living on their books. I accept that I may have to write a half a dozen more books before I garnish enough attention to ever get that “big” contract. Who knows, as a condition for that “big” contract, I may even give up writing in several genres altogether. Nevertheless, deep down inside, I resent it. The affinity for uniformity – that’s the Adamic defect, not diversity. I am normal – it’s all you consumers who are messed up.
Patrick and Elizabeth Johnston reside in central Ohio with their nine home-schooled children. Patrick Johnston is a family practice physician and pediatrician, the founder of the Association of Pro-life Physicians (www.ProLifePhysicians.org), and the director of Personhood Ohio (www.PersonhoodOhio.com). Dr. Johnston is a popular conference speaker and author of eight novels, two contracted to be published this year (www.RevoltTrilogy.com). He and his wife, Elizabeth, have a passion for strong families, restored marriages, Christian education, revival in the church, and a return to biblical thinking and practice (www.JohnstonFamilyMinistry.com). He has also written two film scripts, including When Swords Heal (www.WhenSwordsHeal.com).