The Marriage of Art and Business: Match Made in Heaven?

photo source: author & husband

Ah, the bliss in human romance! That meeting of eyes which awakens destiny. Those flutters of the heart when looking upon one’s beloved. That first fleeting brush of skin against skin … that inviolable first press of lips to lips.

Am I the only cynic with the audacity to note that romances of the fictional persuasion tend to end just before or soon after the altar with a vague “happily ever after”?

Not so in the real world. Here, sly Romance drives opposites to unite themselves in marriage, then dances laughingly into the shadows to watch the eruption of vinegar joining baking soda, one eyebrow raised as bubbles fizzle in a spewing mess.

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.”
~ Winston Churchill

You no doubt visit here because you are enraptured by the romance between Writing and Publishing. Could the differences between women and men possibly be more pronounced than those between art and business?

Writing plumbs the depths of all things horribly beautiful and paints them with deft strokes, that someone might look upon the canvas and see what the artist has seen—might know what the artist knows.

Writing then casts longing eyes at Publishing. Publishing appreciates Writing’s beauty, gazing upon her often, in every lovely form she takes. Ever the pragmatist, Publishing knows his survival depends on Writing’s inner strength. Writing willingly dresses herself to please Publishing, who holds the stronger hand in the relationship. She is determined to make herself irresistible enough to garner his proposal of marriage between her art and his business.

Writing and Publishing are both aware that the promise of a storybook marriage upon which millions will smile also holds the risk of being consumed in the anguish of rejection. And though neither Publishing nor Writing sets out to cause the other pain, their marriage is destined to experience all the agony and the ecstasy common to any marriage between opposites.

Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain…
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil …
~ Psalm 127:1-2 (ESV)

In romance between man and woman, the wise will ask if God smiles upon them—certainly before tying the knot and hopefully well before longing glances are permitted to grow into full-fledged courtship. Failure to do so can result in everything but “happily ever after.”

As we writers consider the marriage of opposites between writing and publishing—the union of art’s beauty and business’s pragmatism—it behooves us to know with certainty that the Lord Himself is playing Matchmaker.

Q4U: Whatever your relationship between art and business at the moment, what helps you determine when you write as only art (or ministry), and when you believe that God is leading you toward marriage of art and business?

19 Replies to “The Marriage of Art and Business: Match Made in Heaven?”

  1. What a superb analogy, Anne! And what a challenging question. There are certain things I do for ministry, i.e. gratis, because I believe in giving back to others in the same way I’ve had others invest their lives in me. This can be anything from speaking, writing, mentoring … some are predetermined and some are “Oh, there you are!” moments discerned at the time.
    I also have to trust God for each closed door — and each opened one. It also helps to be involved with a network of other writers in the “biz” who support and encourage one another.

  2. Beth, I’ve relied heavily upon those open and closed doors as I ask God to reveal His will. Even as He prods me forward, I know I cannot presume upon the outcome. As for that network of people … (*sigh*) they’ve been the BEST part of the romance!

  3. Beautifully written, Anne, as only a true artist could write it!

    I am very new to this writing/publishing industry, and am working hard trying to sort it all out.

    I would like to say that, for me, it is all about ministry. I’m not in it for money or fame or affirmation, just to share God’s word. And, in a sense, that is a true statement…at least in regard to my heart-of-hearts, my deepest desires…that part of my heart that is truly conformed to Christ’s image…

    And yet, having written a book for the purpose of ministry, it seems to become incumbent upon me to make at least some effort to let people know the book exists and might be a blessing to them.

    This in turn leads to some form of an attempt at a marketing strategy, which leads to trying to get people to pay attention to my message, which can readily lead to obsession with number of hits, number of followers, attracting traffic, etc…which looks a whole lot less like ministry than it does vain egotism.

    So far, this little adventure has taught me a lot about my heart that I probably needed to know, but would rather not have found to exist. At the same time, it has been extremely humbling in showing me just how reliant I am on Christ for something as simple as trying to minister without getting my own ego and my own need for affirmation in the way.

    I’ve read lots of advice by book marketing experts, both in books and on website blogs. Some of the advice has been very useful to me. Some I have tried and decided it just does not fit, for me…I lack the personal skills to pull them off without coming across as self-promoting…and above all I want to be Christ-promoting, not self-promoting.

    So, for now, I plan to focus on ministery thru blogging. Not on marketing or platform building, but on simply learning to use a website blog as a tool for sharing what Christ has laid on my heart to share, and learning to use social media to connect with others in a meaningful way.

    I’m not sure where that might lead, but for now it seems important to focus on this step and to trust God to know where it may lead…

    Thanks for the beautiful post!

    1. Joe, I could have written every single word of this comment. One of my continuing prayers has been, “Lord, please help me build a platform that gives more prominence to You than to me.” I realize that I do need to draw some prominence to myself. I realize that my ego can interfere either by trying to make myself too big, or not allowing myself to be as big as the Lord might wish.

      May God bless and direct you! It’s encouraging to hear your shared perspective.

  4. What a beautifully written post, Anne, which explores a challenging topic I wrestled with at one point on my writing journey. Realizing that I would have to alter my approach to writing if I wanted to be published wasn’t easy at first. I clung to the mistaken belief that creative works shouldn’t be subject to a set of rigid standards and that I shouldn’t have to bother with the business side of things.

    Over time I relinquished my newbie views. I saw that the generally accepted guidelines for creating a story are there for a reason: they work. I accepted the reality that if I wanted to sell a book I must take market considerations into account. I learned how to remain true to my stories and my voice while making the changes that would take me from wanna be published to gonna be. In essence I embraced the art and business sides of my “job.”

    1. Keli, you’ve been an amazing newbie to watch. I consider myself privileged to see all you’ve done in the last year—all you’re doing! You’ve certainly followed through on the “match made in Heaven” the Lord had in mind for you. : )

  5. I can tell when I’m writing for art or when He’s directing me to the marriage. The art is fun, but fluffy, lacking substance. When I follow His promptings there is value, and as a result, becomes something I feel others would benefit from so I try to share it.

    1. Ann, following those promptings is the reason I never get writer’s block. With blog posts, for example, when I sense that I’m writing for the sake of writing, I stop and pray. It seems that true value rarely comes from us, but through us. All credit and honor (and glory!) for the value goes directly to the Lord. \o/

  6. I feel I have to be true to what is telling me to write. To touch as many people as I can reach and share my love for him. I am not published as yet but I do believe that God’s timing is perfect for me and my writing. There will be times ahead when writing for the publisher might become a necessity. I loved the post. I had never looked at it in this way. Thank you for sharing.

    1. You make me smile, Glenda. You speak as someone content to be “single” and unmarried to Publishing, while still allowing that God may have “marriage” in your future. Just as God does call some people to be single, and devote themselves to relationship with Him (1 Corinthians 7:7-8), I believe that He gifts some people as writers solely for Himself, as art, and / or for ministry, without the need to please Publishing. I ask Him to give you peace along your entire journey, and to lead you in His perfect will for you.

  7. Anne, what a beautiful post, and so apt!

    I try to remember that God’s people faced challenged even when called or chosen for His purposes. If we’re going face challenges well, then you’re right: we’d be wise to be sure that we’re on the path God has for us. I love your last Bible verse.

    God bless you!

    1. Gwen, you’ve been my most prominent contemporary inspiration for seeing and writing romance into every facet of life. I trust that we hear the same Lover’s voice romancing our souls. I pray that God gives you strength, peace, and patience for every season of your long, long term relationship. However many other people hear your incredible voice in years to come, I am SO blessed to have it in my life. ♥

  8. A beautiful post, Anne, and such an unusual but apt comparison. I’ve always asked God for His direction when I’m writing a novel, and in that way I consider my writing a ministry, and I’ve found that He puts the people He truly wants me to reach into my path, whether that be a reader, an editor, another writer or someone I meet upon the way. I’ve also found that He places people into my life who will minister to me and guide me. What an assurance, what a joy, what glorious peace!

    As for business – that’s not my strong point, but the good news is that my husband has that gift as does my incredible agent!

    1. Yes, Sue, what GLORIOUS peace in placing all in God’s hands! I love that you mention all the other people, before the final readers, who are blessed along the way—the true essence of our Christian ambassadorship. 😀

      It’s been a delight to hear of the Lord’s plan for you on this journey. What a gift and confirmation from Him that you’re able to entrust much of the business details to that supportive and delightful husband of yours! (Please tell him I said hello.)

  9. I love your marriage analogy,Anne. I’m still at the ‘single’ stage, looking for an agent to play match-maker. But, I feel a sense of ministry in everything I write, whether it’s a story, my own blog (that hardly anybody is reading, yet), or a magazine article for a local publication. The leap into being published seems to be the next logical step for me to fulfill the calling God has given me. It’s all for him! But, the sense of stewardship of ‘my’ stories pushes me to this union to birth offspring that will bring glory to Jesus.

    1. Wade, I share with you the desire to bring God glory as others read my words. Remember that the very writing of them also brings Him glory. The labor of working through those words is a testimony to Him. Whatever humans we witness to, we know we are also surrounded by a great cloud of spiritual witnesses.

      Be sure to see Richard Mabry’s post today for more on this. And yes, It’s all for God!

  10. What an apt and timely post.The baking soda and vinegar has certainly erupted in my life since I signed my contract and published my first novel, then set out to rewrite another and write a third all in a very short time.

    One of the great joys of marriage that justifies the pains is children. Let’s hope that will prove to be the same with publishing–that the books themselves, the “children,” will please both of their parents and give all the pain a purpose, as they go out and spread the good news.

    1. Rosslyn, your precious daughter and your delightful novel have both blessed me. I consider it a privilege to know them both, and to know you.

      No pain, no gain—right? : /

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