Thursday, December 21, 2017

Letting my light shine.

I was recently told that I should stop posting the #LightTheWorld videos on my work profile, that it blurs the line between personal life and professional life, and it potentially offends and/or turns off which I responded with the following message:

Thanks for the feedback, your opinion is always welcome and appreciated........but, nah.
When I started out in the publishing game almost ten years ago, things were different. Authors were expected to have a significant social media presence in the form of fun questions, book recommendations, and pleasant—always pleasant!—interaction. Our job, as authors, was to see and be seen, to pick a brand and stick with it, and to remain accessible and relatable to readers, always.
After receiving my first traditional publishing contract, I sought out some advice from the one author I admired above all others, who was what I considered to be “big time,” and she told me: be kind and friendly. Never discuss topics like religion or politics, because that might ostracize readers. Always stay neutral.
My how things have changed.
Nowadays, authors have significantly more freedom than they once had. We’re allowed—even encouraged—to speak up, and speak out. To use our platform, however big or small, to share what’s right, what matters, and what’s on our minds. Gone are the days of not discussing controversial topics, like religion or politics. Now we’re not just encouraged to share an opinion, but we’re expected to! Even the “big time” author who told me to keep it nice and benign so long ago now tweets and posts about political hot topics daily. The days of neutrality are long gone. For all of us.
My religion is a massive part of who I am, and what I write. And while my books are not religious books whatsoever, they do, and always will, meet a certain moral code. Nothing is put into my books that couldn’t be easily translated into a PG13 movie. Do my characters have premarital sex? Yes, sometimes they do. Do they swear? Occasionally, like me, they slip up and swear. My characters are human, and as such, flawed. Just like me. How do I justify that? Because I’m not writing LDS characters, and when/if I do, I will make them adhere to that LDS moral standard. But for now, I am good, and modestly successful, writing what I write.
I was raised to believe that my faith isn’t something to be ashamed or embarrassed of. When I was little we would sing a song in Sunday School called, “This Little Light of Mine,” And it was all about how we shouldn’t hide our “light” (faith) under a bushel. We should let it shine for all to see, because there is no shame in being a person of faith—whatever faith that happens to be. I’ve gone to battle for the sake of my faith, even losing friends and family for it. I take my faith seriously, and my career choice doesn’t change that.
As a person whose job depends greatly on the enthusiasm, support, and loyalty of others, I am well aware that I take great risk by sharing small glimpses of my faith with the masses. I know that what little I share about politics is like playing Russian roulette with my public persona. But in this day and age, where anything and everything has an audience, a platform, and a population willing to back it up, and fight for right to share my religion—which is one of the single most important aspects of my existence—is of the utmost importance to me. I will not hide my light under a bushel. I am no longer expected to, therefore I won’t. And neither should you.
Being unwaveringly neutral and utterly untouched by politics or religion, or any of the few hundred subtopics that fall under either of those categories, is no longer an option. Times have changed. We all have to have voices, and we all have to be willing to use them for the greater good—whatever that looks like to you.
For me, sharing my faith in these uncertain, tumultuous, and often downright scary times is what that looks like for me. And I’m not sorry for that. I hope everyone who reads and enjoys my books can support my right to do so, just as I will always be willing to go to battle to defend their right to do the same.
Merry Christmas. Remember to let your light shine today and always.