Sunday, July 08, 2007

Your Best Writing Life Now

Pentecostal/Word of Faith minister Joel Osteen not only runs the largest church in the U.S., his how-to faith book Your Best Life Now has hit #1 on just about every bestseller list out there. A worried friend with good intentions gave me a copy of the book. I've had several run-ins with charismatics and I already know the drill, but I thought I'd give it a fair shot, so I read it.

Well.

It seems what Pastor Osteen preaches is prosperity gospel, or the belief that Christians are entitled to good health and prosperity, as long as they forget the past and future, make the most of the present moment, and follow seven easy steps. I won't rant about it, but I admit, I haven't been this dismayed by a cult leader and his groupthink since the Borg tried to assimilate me.

In case you're curious, the seven steps to gaining this mythic state of entitled oblivion are:

1. Enlarge Your Vision
2. Develop a Healthy Self-Image
3. Discover the Power of Your Thoughts and Words
4. Let go of the Past
5. Find Strength Through Adversity
6. Live to Give
7. Choose to Be Happy

Those sound a lot like the seven steps to gaining personal wealth through infomercial stuff, don't they? Like those real estate schemes, peddling financial notes, selling your soul to Amway . . .

Okay, I'll stop.

Actually, some of these aren't bad as personal goals -- I can attest to the benefits of #5 -- but I kinda doubt they're going to stop the war in Iraq, reverse my father's Alzheimer's, or endow research with a ba-zillion dollars to find a cure for AIDs. Then again, I'm an ex-Catholic, what do I know? Maybe the "don't worry be happy" approach will work better for Osteen and his followers than it did RWA.

The book stopped being fodder for my inner bitch when I thought about how much advice I hand out on a daily basis. I do want to help other writers; I think it's important to pay it forward. Writing is my religion, and I try to practice what I preach. PBW also makes up for the years I spent working in solitude and wishing I could talk shop with other people like me.

I have really good intentions! Just like the friend who gave me Osteen's book.

Honestly, I can't give you seven steps to a better writing life. There is no one-size-fits-all method that works for everyone. A better writing life for you may be one day and one step away, or ten years and a thousand steps down the road. Many of you go through experiences and wrangle problems I have no experience with; some of you will never have to deal with what I have.

The writing life can't be measured or quantified, pigeon-holed or labeled. It's different for each of us, all of us.

Next week we'll be discussing a lot of writing-related topics during my second annual Left Behind & Loving It virtual workshops. Along with goodie bags, I will be handing out more advice and techniques that I believe in and practice myself. I hope that part or all of it makes your writing life a little better, easier, more productive, etc., but I can't guarantee that.

What I can promise is that we'll share the writing life here, with no rules, steps, membership qualifications, or income requirements. We'll just be writers, talking about what we battle, what we need to learn, and what we love. Which very well may be the best part of this writing life.

12 comments:

  1. And that is exactly why I feel any improvement I've made over the past few years is due to yours and Holly Lisle's advice. Both of you reawakened the fire in me to write again, and then you helped by giving advice on how to keep a story alive, how to improve how I write the stories, etc. I owe a big thanks to you two.

    Anyway, thanks, and I definitely want to be a part of those virtual workshops if I can.

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  2. Self help books have their place, as long as they don't condemn you for failure.

    I'm looking forward to your workshops.

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  3. Not only is the best writing life going to differ for everybody, it'll differ for the same writer over time. Life is growth and that isn't static. But writing is a constant. Here's to living the writing life and the joy of sharing it. : )

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  4. And we are thankful for your candor. Keep doing what you do, and we'll keep coming back. Hon, you are a remarkable lady and I appreciate the chance to hang out here!

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  5. If you ever get up and running again, can you talk a bit about bleeding for the job?

    I know that not all writers rip themselves open like I do, that most of us don't fight a constant battle just to get the words, but I surely can't be the only one. I'm not talking about the struggles of facing the blank page or organizing creativity into a manageable plot, I'm talking about the exhaustion of facing a book because, again and again and again, you'll be ripping your guts out and holding them up as an offering that may or may not be accepted. I'm talking about the acute and often numbing horror of facing the blood and pain and torture of creation, a process that cuts you open and shoves you to your knees, yet you stagger back up only to be eviscerated and knocked right down over and over and over again. Because you're a writer, and to not stand, to not face the pain, is worse?

    Can we talk about that? Not the biz or the markets or how to construct interlayered characters or three-act plots, but how, sometimes, for some of us, this job is a private hell we walk every day? But to not walk, not not write is a far graver torture than the job itself?

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  6. Anonymous1:18 PM

    wise assessment of the Osteen book, PBW.

    Looking forward to next week!

    Rebecca

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  7. Maybe the "don't worry be happy" approach will work better for Osteen and his followers than it did RWA.

    *snorts diet Dr. Pepper through nose, discovers it doesn't feel any better than doing same with tea and lemon*

    Ow.

    The "Prosperity Preachers" scare the crap outta me, too. Because what the average white middle-to-upperclass Christian American REALLY needs is a bigger sense of entitlement, yes?

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  8. Agree with you on Olsteen--he's part of the "Word of Faith" Movement that is more about prosperity than the Gospel. Looking forward to the Left Behind things you have planned!

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  9. You had me at..."fodder for my inner bitch" Your link went straigt to my favorites. Can't wait to read some older posts. Nice to meet ya!

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  10. Heh. You linked the SFWA to the Borg.

    I find that amusing.

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  11. It's funny that you should mention Osteen and talk about his prosperity gospel (good term for it, by the way). I tend not to think of Osteen as a Christian so much as a powerful motivational speaker. That way I don't confuse his "gospel" with the truth about Christ, the true Gospel.

    That from your snobby preacher friend.

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  12. You have an awesome blog. Believe me when I say you are helping me and I hope someday when I actually have published, I can pay it forward too.

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