Many of us are probably familiar with the author Julia Cameron, who helped several creative people break out of their non-productive ruts with her book, 'The Artist's Way.' She suggests that longing for fame feels a bit like waiting for rain in a drought. 'We keep squinting toward the horizon, jealous of our luckier neighbours and dissatisfied with our own condition,' she says. Her words gave me funny images of Elijah asking his servant, 'Can you see anything yet?'
Can you imagine this? After several fruitless looks, the young man replies, 'Yes, there are a couple of new reviews on Goodreads and a slight increase in your Amazon sales ranking.'
Well, we know what happened in the Bible. Elijah and his servant rushed out in order to beat the soaking deluge they'd already predicted to King Ahab. So in our analogy, we grasp these measly signs and push on, trying to prepare ourselves for the downpour of sales, ads, notoriety and money we hope will follow. But maybe in our case, the small cloud will just waft away. 'Hey,' we complain. 'That's not what happened with Elijah!'
Julia Cameron goes on to muse that our culture has taught us to think of fame as a necessary by-product, but she also suggests that it's full of empty calories with no nutritional value. We are taught even by some Christian media moguls to keep seeking the amazing breakthrough, after which our lives will be abundantly blessed. But we need only look at the sad revelations, not to mention several premature deaths, of many celebrities who seemed to have it all to see that fame is not all it's cracked up to be.
'Not all artists will lead public lives,' Cameron goes on to say. 'Many of us as talented as those who fame strikes may toil out our own days in relative anonymity.' And that's okay, because it may not even be healthy for us. I'm reminded of another article, this time written by Ann Voskamp, in which she argues convincingly that the human soul isn't really even designed for fame.
So this sort of message encourages us to make sure we're listening to our Creator rather than our culture. Keeping in mind how easy it is to get the two mixed up may be a key to help. I appreciate anything that may clear my mind in this confusing world where we're brought up not to be attention seekers as children, and then later, chastised for not seeking attention in the adult world of self-promotion. Let's enjoy any praise and accolades that come our way, but not at the cost of forgetting to stay focused on the main thing. If our love for God, others, and the joy of our work is what drives us, then our lives are full of what matters most regardless of the fame and attention we're receiving from other people.
Paula Vince is a South Australian author of contemporary, inspirational fiction. She lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, with its four distinct seasons, and loves to use her environment as settings for her stories. Her novel, 'Picking up the Pieces' won the religious fiction section of the International Book Awards in 2011, and 'Best Forgotten' was winner of the CALEB prize the same year. She is also one of the four authors of 'The
Legacy', Greenfield 's first and only collaborated Christian novel. Her most recent
novel, 'Imogen's Chance' was published April 2014. For
more of Paula's reflections, you may like to visit her book review blog, The Vince Review. Australia