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Jason Bortz

On Self-Promotion.

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As an artist--at least, one who'd like to make a living doing what it is that they feel called to do, be it acting, painting, writing, dance, whathaveyou--a topic recently resurfaced that I realized I've never quite fully come to terms with, and feel I need to at this point in my life.

How does a man of God 'promote himself'?

It hit me a few days ago that Hey, Jason--you know, it angers you when liars and exploitative bastards hype themselves while creating utter feces and manage to secure credibility and/or funding while doing so. So what do you do about it? You can't stop it from happening...

And then: Why don't you fight fire with fire and promote the stuff you do, if you're so bent on doing redemptive work? If you believe it to be of merit, why can't you get on the phone, call some magazines/newspapers/etc and generate interest in what you're offering? Don't you feel strongly about your work?

I've always figured that if God wants my work noticed, He'll just--Make It Happen. Bring people into place, orchestrate events that may not otherwise occur--this is all true, certainly. And yet there seems to be a line I fear to tread when it comes to simply promoting the work I feel good about...I realize I've always equated self-promotion with selfish ambition, or a rebellious nature, trying to control my own life rather than allow the Lord to lead it. And that quandary has simply got to be resolved, because I'm finding it to be immature and lacking any sort of basis other than fear.

I'd like to discuss the issue from both scriptural and practical application. How to implement 'Letting another's lips praise you' while actively 'taking by force' that which I feel the Lord has given me a talent for to act as His vessel by. How do I quash that selfish ambition spectre--or should I? Is it a healthy fear, to keep me in check, mindful of the propensity for hubris and self-congratulation? Does Moses' striking of the rock lesson apply here as a warning--or act as guidepost?

For any of you involved in making a living by the implementation of talent that directly relies upon marketing yourself, I would really like some discussion sparked to help in clarifying this issue...

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Edited by Jason Bortz

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My first novel is being published in January, 2007, and I am working on self-promotion now. My sense about it is this: I've been working at this for ten years. I have given up any ambition for other careers so that I have time and a low stress life conducive to writing. I have, however, been active in my church all along, and done the best I could do at the jobs I did have. I went through my dark night of the soul with God about "do you want me to write or not?" And now, things are happening for me, and I have this two-book deal, and while part of me sometimes thinks the last thing this world needs is another book, I mostly believe that this is the task I've been given.

With publishing the way it is now, it's very important for a writer's first book to do well (assuming one wants a career) or at least not flop. There is so much about my book and the industry that I have no control over, and those things I just need to not stress about and leave in God's hands, but there are certain things I can do to give my book every shot at succeeding. And I'm going to do those things. God has opened this window of opportunity and I am stepping through it with all my resources. I think that one thing clear in the bible is the gratitude we're supposed to have for all gifts. We're to use and enjoy our gifts - just don't mistake them for the giver. My hope is that if I stay in prayer while I proceed to take actions that seem to make sense from a practical and business standpoint, it's going to be okay. I trust that the holy spirt will check me if I stumble over the line. I think there's something about all this that involves being "wise as serpents and innocent as doves."

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Jason,

IMHO, I wonder if you aren't confusing your personal call with your professional career.

Your personal call is to use your gifts to create works of art that bring Glory to God and bring others into an awareness of the larger meaning to life.

Your professional career is to understand the way films/art is marketed and work with integrity and wisdom (wise as serpents, harmless as doves - Matthew 10:16) within that industry. There is nothing spiritual about not being knowledgeable about all of this. This system works by getting your name out known, using publicists or agents to "market you." That is not self-promotion, it is simple business. It isn't holy or unholy to be a good business head.

Does that make sense?

Denny

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FWIW, as a writer, I have a hard enough time getting around to pitching things to editors and publishers that I have never worked with before. Partly laziness, perhaps, but also partly because I'm not fond of tooting my own horn to strangers. While I HAVE sent the occasional portfolio to editors here and there -- mostly several years ago, when I was fresh out of university -- I also have to say many of the opportunities that have come to me have generally been at the initiative of others, rather than (or more than) myself. (Heck, even my decade-plus stint writing on film for BC Christian News began with me writing a letter to the editor in 1992, and the editor phoning me back and saying, "Didn't you write a couple of items on film for my predecessor back in the '80s? Would you be interested in doing that some more...?" So obviously, I had "promoted" myself in the late '80s -- when I was just a teen! -- and I had taken SOME initiative by writing that letter to the editor in '92, but it might not have gone anywhere, much less become the award-winning film column that it is today -- whoops, was that self-promotion? -- if the editor had not phoned me.)

FWIW, this thread also reminds me of some stuff that came up at a Steve Taylor press conference ten years ago.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Peter,

I do not think it is self-promotion to celebrate. We need more celebration. And, of course, it is jealousy/competition/evil to not "rejoice with those who rejoice."

It multiplies the joys and celebrations of life if you celebrate all your friend's celebrative moments - but to do so, they need to, in child-like joy, share the good things.

What is true, in all of us, is that our self-promotion/arrogance/self-importance types of behavior come from our suppressed fear that we aren't really anyone worth celebrating.

IMHO, A child-like joy in and sharing the good that happens is how God wants us to live.

Denny

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