Though learning rapidly, I’m currently no expert on the publishing business, Christian or otherwise. Thus, I really don’t have anything worthwhile to add to this discussion over at scita >scienda. However, as a writer, I do have some tangential comments to offer, comments that in no way demean the discussion occurring over at S>S.
Article 13 of the Belgic Confession states the following:
Article 13: The Doctrine of God’s Providence
We believe that this good God, after he created all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.
Yet God is not the author of, nor can he be charged with, the sin that occurs. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he arranges and does his work very well and justly even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly.
We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.
This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground without the will of our Father.
In this thought we rest, knowing that he holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without his permission and will.
For that reason we reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God involves himself in nothing and leaves everything to chance.
I general terms, then, God is in charge of everything that comes to pass. For the Christian writer, as for the Christian, this truth should never be too far out in front or too far behind. In fact, it should be woven through every written word, and seen clearly between the lines of every written text. And not only that, when it comes to what we as writers do with a completed text, God’s providence should be our story.
What if you wrote an entire novel and no one ever read it? What about two? Ten?
Actually, that’s impossible for the Christian author. My publisher, Marcher Lord Press, stresses this very truth: there’s first and foremost the audience of one. It’s my publisher’s very first tip in writing, and you can read it here. I have a sign over my desk that reads an audience of one. I’ve bought in to this idea, that if God were your only audience, and He certainly is watching, it’s a better audience than you could ever hope to speak to through your writing.
It’s the same for the preacher with a small congregation. Not only are you preaching to just a few folks on Sunday, but to the great heavenly host and the church universal. The audience of one, truly believed, is an astounding truth. Not only does it have meaning for preachers and writers, but for the life of every Christian who has ever lived. How we worry at times about writing, and other such pursuits when millions have lived in obscurity, or worse. For those who lives have seemed meaningless, forgotten, hopeless, or lived righteously in vain, I remind you of the audience of one.
He’s always there. He sees. He cares. He doesn’t read the book of your life with one eye on the TV. He doesn’t consider the conflict of your life story fictional. He doesn’t consider your inner drives, aspirations, pains, and emotions–after all you are the main character of your life–as somehow less than reality. He’s intimately involved in your story from beginning to end. Would you really consider a million human readers a better audience given what we know of God as Christians?
He is also not fleeting, not contingent, not becoming, not to be renovated by fire at the last Day. The paper you write on will fade. Your book will be forgotten on bookshelves, if it makes it that far. Computers will rust away; digital files will corrupt and be lost. But the audience of one is eternal: there is no shadow of turning in Him. A written story and a life story offered to the audience of one thereby become eternal stories, flickers of that everlasting glory that is God almighty.
As the confession states, as does God’s word, God is in control of all things that come to pass. Guess what…that includes whether you will ever be published, where you will be published, and how many pages of your book ever are read. He has his own reasons for everything that comes to pass. Ours is just to find our obedient place in His grand scheme. If yours is writing, write to the glory of the audience of one. You can have no higher calling and no greater readership, published or not.