A Creator’s Journey #19–Who Are You?

I freaking hate the concept of “branding.” It sounds so corporate, so money-hungry, so un-artistic.

That and I suck at it. That may have jaded me a little.

If you’re new to the writing world, or art in general, your “brand” is whatever you’re selling. As an artist, you’re selling what you create, but also yourself. So branding is the art of marketing you and your work.

More specifically, branding is selling who you are and what you have to offer.

Unfortunately, you have to know what those things are.

For the longest time, I was just a a writer. I put words to pages and studied how to do it better in school. And I thought that was enough. I was a writer and what I had to offer was good books.

But that’s not enough. Not anymore. Thanks to the internet, writers are a dime a dozen now. You have to narrow it down.

What stories do you want to tell? Why do you write? What do you hope to put into the world?

More specifically, who are you? If you know who you are, you can get a little closer to your brand.

For starters, I am not a writer, but a fiction writer. I don’t like journalism, technical writing, or even copywriting that much. We’re narrowing it down.

I’m also a Christian, which brings up a new issue: Christian art is by and large bad, but it’s getting better in some ways, and I want to be part of that improvement.

This gets a little closer to who I am: a guy fed up with starchy Christianity, or more specifically, suffocating religion.

Ever since reading guys like C.S. Lewis and John Eldredge, I have had little patience for religion, which chokes the spirit of God with legalism and works.

We’re getting closer…

Then, a few years back now, I had an encounter with God over the “Dry Bones” passage in Ezekiel 37, where God tells Ezekiel to prophecy over a valley of dry bones so they rise, and then to prophecy breath into them so they’ll live. God struck me with that and it became my passion: breathing God’s life into dry bones.

And suddenly, I had it.

I create to breathe new life into musty Christianity.

That doesn’t just mean I write to Christians. My audience is anybody who’s sick of faith that doesn’t help and doesn’t work. The teenager going to church because Mom and Dad dragged him. The runaway who only found hate and condemnation in “God.” The man or woman who’s bored with Christianity.

The homosexual looking for love. The addict looking for grace. The guy on death row looking for a last chance. The outcast who wants in.

They are reflected in the stories I write.

Ferryman pushes boundaries to show that Christians don’t have to be G-rated or even write about Jesus to be Christian writers. Rise is a rallying cry against being good little boys and girls. Locke Hart is about shattering established rules in order to be Godly.

And this blog occasionally challenges the norms of Christian fiction. Everything I write reflects this attitude.

Many of my books and ideas can be sold outside the Christian market, but this is my focus: to show the world a new kind of Christianity.

Well, not “new.” It’s as old as Jesus’s ministry itself. Forget the rules that can’t save your soul. Love God, accept Jesus, and find the joy of his freedom.

And I’ll probably never say those words in my books. I don’t have to. I’ll just show them what new life looks like, and how suffocating the old life is.

That’s writing rule #1: Show, don’t tell.

Now I know my brand: I write fiction. To whom? People who are tired of cobwebbed Christianity. What value do I offer? Rejuvenation. That’s the art I want to create.

Because it’s the life I want to live.

What about you? What do you create? Why do you create it? What do you believe? What are you passionate about?

Who are you? 

Tell me in the comments. If you need help, we can talk about that, too.

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One thought on “A Creator’s Journey #19–Who Are You?

  1. I like the idea of a broad conceptual branding of self, because the usual branding of a genre writer doesn’t appeal to me (“Oh, you’re a mystery writer!” “Oh, you’re a fantasy writer!” etc). I write many different genres, as inspiration strikes, but I’ve stuck mostly to historical fiction and historical magical realism of late (fiction wise, I write a ton of nonfiction as well, both for fun and my job).

    I want to challenge my readers and make them ask hard questions of their faith. I like to construct difficult plots that force characters into situations where they have no easy answers — the pacifist sent by her mother to an assassin’s school, for example. With historical fiction, I like to bring long dead people back to life, and make the reader feel something for, or at least understand, them.

    Liked by 1 person

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