Wild Words . . . Photos & Fine Art

Co-creating by heart with sandy cathcart through writers helps and art info, focusing on all things wild.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Putting Down the Giants—Part IV

Awwwwww…talk about putting down the giants! I just e-mailed the first nine chapters of Wild Women to my agent. It feels so incredibly good to be accomplishing something.

Today’s word from Steve Hopkins (a message he gave at a recent artist retreat) is truly an exciting one. We’ll pick up with his fourth point—Are you a hacker? Or a professional?


Fourthly, Never assume that what worked for somebody else will work for you.

Saul gave David his armor, but it didn’t fit. It worked for Saul, but it didn’t work for David.

The point is, David did it the way God asked HIM to do it, and it’s the same for us. God created you in a unique way, and that means that God has given you a talent unique from everyone else. You will always be defeated if you approach your craft trying to duplicate what works for someone else.

I love the story my artist brother, Chris Hopkins, tells of when he was a student at Art Center. A teacher gave a very simple assignment to go home and paint a map of California.

Art Center was a very competitive school. When given a new technique, the students would work hard to master it. So, when the students returned the following week, they handed the teacher their assignments. The students obviously labored to make the perfect map. Some had drawn it to perfect scale. Others used color to highlight mountains from the valleys. They were beautiful, but the teacher looked at them and said, “Crap…crap.”

He came to one that Rand McNally would have loved to publish and asked, “Who did this?”

One girl in the back said, “I did.”

He wadded it up into a ball and threw it out the window!

Students were weeping.

The teacher then stopped and came to the piece my brother did, which was looking at LA from a tempestuous ocean after an earthquake. In the ocean were some of the symbols of LA—the Capital Records building, the Hollywood sign. And where Hollywood Boulevard ran, it was renamed Hollywood Fiord, Mulholland Beach. And there were portions of the highway in the ocean.

The teacher asked, “Who did this?”

Chris said, “I did.”

And the instructor said, “This is genius. This is what I was looking for.”

Do you know the difference between a hack and a professional?

A hack is one who sits down to work and doesn’t ask what’s in his heart to paint or write, but what the market is looking for.

The hack condescends to his audience and he thinks himself superior to them when the truth is he is scared to death of being authentic in front of them, of writing or painting, or composing what he really feels or believes. He’s afraid it won’t sell, so he anticipates what the market wants and then gives it to them.

Now, there is nothing wrong with taking money or making a living by your craft. Chris is like a subcontractor on a construction job. Where a contractor will hire framers and plumbers to complete a house, art directors hire Chris because he is a journeyman artist.

But Chris reserves a piece of himself that is just his. It is sacred and in the creative world no one has access to it but him. It is there that he does what God has gifted and instructed him to do, to paint and create what the Spirit tells him.


Wow! See what I mean? And there’s still more of Steve’s message to come in next week.

Are you a hacker or a professional?

Are you fighting your battles suited in clothes and with weapons that fit? Or are you trying to use someone else’s armor that’s more a cumbrance than a help?

Boy! That was a timely word for me.

I recently returned from the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. It was a wonderful conference, but I came home with mixed feelings about what I learned. One class talked entirely about marketing and how to sell ourselves as writers, even getting down to how we should dress and style our hair for TV appearances.


That totally depressed me. I’ve never been about the big hair thing. Or the style thing for that matter. I simply want people to read my words. And if I’m going to be on Oprah, I want her to accept me and my wild women for who we are. Perhaps, I’m naïve, but I think she will love us just the way we are! And none of us wild women have big hair. Well…I take that back…if secrets must be told, we do have one wild woman who carried a makeup kit seven miles into camp and used it every day! Ha! My outfitter boss didn’t even roll his eyes when he tied it to the pack mule.

Again, I’m reminded of Ted Dekker's words at the same conference. He told us to be true first of all to what God has called us to write, and second of all to our readers.

I think that’s enough marketing for me.

Did you know that Francine Rivers doesn’t even enter any contests? She told me that herself! I found that very interesting. You may be thinking that I’m wrong about this because her book, The Last Sin Eater, won an award. And you are right, but she didn’t enter it into the contest, her publisher did. And she said that it’s her least selling book! Imagine that! So what good is a contest except perhaps to bolster our ego?

I really have to think about this one. I thought it would make people want to read my books and view my art if I was a contest winner. But not so with Francine. And I’ve even seen big tough guys reading her books at Rendezvous—one of the last places I would expect such a thing.

Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to enter contests, or even wrong to do some marketing. Most of us will have to do some kind of marketing for readers or viewers to even know we’re out there. But I do think it’s wrong to ONLY write or do art that is marketable. Sometimes, we MUST write or paint our passion…the thing that we can’t get off our minds.

And I also think it is dangerous for a Christian to rely more on marketing than on the Holy Spirit. Sure, the Holy Spirit is capable of working through our marketing techniques, but if we leave Him out of the picture when we’re writing, painting, or marketing, then we will probably end up with something that will have about as much worth as peanut butter on…….uh…..a cactus leaf.

And I like what Steve said about us always being defeated if we try to duplicate someone else's work. It's okay to copy in order to learn, but when we're doing the real thing, it should be just that...real, genuine, completely ours.

Francine is true to her calling. Ted Dekker is true to his calling. Lisa Samson is true to her calling. Each one of them wears their own armor and each one of them are selling books and doing very well.

Wow! A lot to chew on.


At 10:02 PM, Blogger Phillip Lemons said...

As a writer, I have to admit that I like the thought of seeing a book with my name printed on the front. I would love to be recognized and praised for my abilities as a writer.

However, that is a vain, shallow motivation that will be reflected in the quality of what is written. As a Christian writer, I must ask, am I writing for my glory or His? People in the Bible met with disasterous results when they did things their way for their own glory instead of God's. (David bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem on an ox cart, for instance.) In the end, what good is the glory of fallen people? I would much rather hear from one person that God spoke to them through my writing, bringing them into closer relationship with Him.

In whatever we write, may it all be for the glory of God our King.


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