I love everything about the creative process. From spinning a story world into existence, breathing characters to life or muddling through their spiritual and emotional transformations, I find the entire journey exhilarating. I even love the grueling grind of editing. (Most days, at least.)
Even with the exhilarating side to creating, writing is a tough gig, especially when you consider you’re putting your deepest thoughts and musings out for everyone to see. It’s an open invitation for anyone to take a peek inside your most vulnerable, shadowed places. And people, as we all know, judge. For a recovering people pleaser, the idea is terrifying. The thought of someone not liking my book twists my stomach. Even worse is the idea of receiving scathing reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. I know it’s not possible for everyone to think my story is the best thing ever written, but my heart often has a hard time accepting it.
As I recently mulled over the concept of rejection, I considered the classics. How did the world’s most celebrated books fare? During its release, Moby Dick was said to be a “catastrophe” and “unfit for general circulation”. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has gone on to sell over 200 million copies, yet the New York Times described Tolkien’s writing as “high-minded” and “death to literature itself.” Ouch.
As I continued to google “best selling books of all time”, God reminded me of something very important. I think most of us know the number one best seller, right? No, not Gone with the Wind or Ben-Hur or To Kill a Mockingbird. The biggest blockbuster to ever sweep planet earth was, and still is, the Bible.
What would it be like if the Bible had Amazon reviews? Could you see people writing them in? “I really tried hard to get into this book but all those begats in Matthew 1….what was this guy thinking?” Or maybe, “From a historical perspective, this book was highly accurate but around the section called Judges things got weird. Too gory. Two stars for me. And don’t even get me started on The Song of Solomon.”
Out of curiosity, I braved a look on Amazon. Imagine my amusement to find the Bible has thousands of reviews. Some of them related to binding and aesthetic features from the individual publishing houses, but some are actually about its content. Here are a few examples:
“A simple book of poorly written stories. The authors are terrible writers.”
“God’s Holy Word. Changed my life.”
Goodreads was even more divisive.
What’s my point?
If God’s perfect, holy, inerrant, divinely-breathed Word receives a wide slew of reviews, ranging from five stars all the way down to a “one star, do not buy”, I have no reason to be ashamed if my book is lumped in as the same. Truth is divisive. Creativity and art attracts some and repels others. What brings life to one may cause another to shrug and walk away. That’s okay. My job is write. God handles the results.
Jesus wasn’t concerned about whether he made everyone happy. The fact is, He spoke the truth at all times, knowing that doing so would deliberately offend the religious hypocrites of the day. So be it. He came to do the will of the Father and only the will of the Father. Nothing more, nothing less.
This doesn’t just apply to writing. This is for any facet of our lives. When God calls us to do something out of our comfort zone, it may be, well, uncomfortable. Sometimes divisive. It may cause people to look at the world in a new way. If I’m worried about whether everyone likes my book or not, I’m missing the point. I cannot find my worth, my value or anything else based on the fickle applause of man. That is an ever changing idol that will leave me empty and wounded…an ever-moving target, impossible to hit.
I write to discover my own shadowed places. I write to please the Author of Life. I write because I love and want to share that love in return. To some, the story will fall on hard hearts and deaf ears. Some will find it a nice tale. Some will find it life-changing. There is beauty in all of it. I need only be faithful.
Thousands may be watching, but I live for an audience, and the approval, of One.
Are you a people pleaser? How has it affected your life? What do you do to combat it on a daily basis? I would love to hear!