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7 Reasons to NOT be a Writing Diva

by Carrie Fancett Pagels

With the ACFW conference right around the corner, many may be tempted to pull their diva mantle out and pack it! Don’t! With narcissism so rampant in our culture that DSM revisions had to more narrowly define its features, one might wonder if I am spitting in the wind to even comment on this phenomenon. Even so, I feel led to get this post out.

1) God doesn’t like it. Yup. We are to have humility and bring glory to Him not ourselves, through our work.

2) The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. At conference, look to your left and your right when at a dinner meeting. Are you in diva mode? The unpublished person to your left-who you ignored might have a three-book contract with a CBA publisher within a few months of this conference. The person to your right, who won’t acknowledge your presence, might lose her 5-book contract with CBA’s biggest publisher when her sales are low. Don’t ever think those contracts are all about you. Someone higher than you controls the universe!

3) Divas are not nice. Jeane Wynn, who spoke on PR at the 2010 ACFW conference, shared that she’s often asked what the best thing an author can do for PR. “Be nice.” That was something she has no control over. People don’t want to buy books from unkind people. Do you? Do you understand divaness is not nice? Sigh… True divas are likely not reading this post, anyway! I am writing to the choir.

4) People talk. Oh yes, they do. They aren’t exclaiming over Diva Writer’s great attributes but about how difficult it is to work with such a person. Diva Writer doesn’t understand that demanding one’s own way all the time is unattractive. Irritating even. And unprofessional.

5) Okay, so you’re not a full-blown Diva Writer. Are you a mini-diva? Do you never bother to promote your friends and other writer colleagues? Put in a good word for them? That would be because you are too busy writing your super fabulous debut novel. Wow. Really. So you can’t blog because it is too hard? You’re a writer. And you can’t volunteer for any ACFW positions because it would make you into one of those pitiful workers who just try so hard, oh my! Well, baby princess diva-you’ve got another thing coming. If you think you can get your contract and with your high heels step across the backs of those who are diligent at helping others you may find yourself frozen out.

6) Do unto others as you would have done unto you.

7) If someone held a mirror up to you or videotaped your behavior, would it please God? Would God call you to be a Diva Writer-or when He whispered in your ear, did He ask you to obey Him and write? I’m not talking about boundaries for best-selling authors here. We all need boundaries.


Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D. – Represented by Joyce Hart, Hartline Literary Agency. ACFW MidAtlantic Zone Director. Administrator of the group blog “Colonial Quills” and international blog “Overcoming Through Time-With God’s Help“. Columnist of “Make Your Characters Behave” for MBT Voices Ezine.

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24 Responses to 7 Reasons to NOT be a Writing Diva

  1. Okay, Carrie, I feel better now! I thought I might be diva-ish with my relentless drive to move forward, but I can say that I’m 100% behind all my writer friends and I want them to succeed as much as myself! Just wish I could go to the conference and meet everyone! I hope you have fun–and the ACFW MidAtlantic region is such a supportive, non-diva-ish group to be a part of!

  2. “Divaness is not nice”. Love it! So true and well put. Thanks for this great post!

  3. HEATHER!!! I am so blessed to have the great members we have in the MidAtlantic Zone!!! I will not be at conf this year, but am PRAYING about Indianapolis next year.

  4. JOANNE, I can just picture God placing His head in His hand and shaking it back and forth while sighing at us when we act like a diva. Now, I am NOT talking about bling, though. Bling is GOOD and does not make someone a diva. Just sayin’!

  5. Brenda Covert says:

    I have edited a couple of books for a couple of Christian new author divas, and you better believe I discussed their attitudes with the publishing house. Displaying diva behavior to your editor is a good way to end your relationship with that publishing house! Fortunately, most new authors are easy to work with and understand that my job is to help them present their best work to the public.

  6. Great article, Carrie. Important reminder. Especially while at conference. We are witnesses for Christ not just to the other writers, but the hotel staff.

  7. Ohhhhh BRENDA, that makes me feel sad! And honestly, I feel like the publishing house does need to know that. Who wants to work with someone who is difficult and purports to be a Christian? Believe it or not, I have run into this even doing “little” editing things like newsletters. It made me sympathetic to what the editors go through! Thanks for sharing!

  8. CONNIE, good point! Do you remember being at the meals and so many people didn’t even thank the servers or acknowledge their presence? Oh my. Or worse, were demanding and rude. We need to be an example to the unbelieving. And an encouragement to one another!

  9. Dina Sleiman says:

    Okay, just for the record, the only reason I’m not volunteering at ACFW is because I signed up too late. Just wanted to make that clear :) Otherwise I think I’m living up to my non-diva pledge.

  10. Uh oh, DINA, there is always room for more helpers somewhere! God bless you for chairing our Tidewater Christian Writers group!!!

  11. Sharyn Kopf says:

    I love supporting my writer friends! First of all, I want them to be successful. Why wouldn’t I? We’re not competing because we all have different stories to tell. And, well, I want them to be just as supportive of my successes.

    Besides, divas are only special in their own eyes. I’m reminded of an episode of Dr. Phil where he was confronting women who proudly admitted they were divas. (Only they used a different word.) They defiantly declared they weren’t averse to treating restaurant staff pretty shabbily if they didn’t get what they wanted. “Because I deserve it.”

    Phil’s response? “I bet you get a lot of spit in your food.” Their stunned expressions proved it had never occurred to them someone might quietly retaliate. But it’s certainly a good lesson: If you want to make sure no one spits in your food, don’t be a diva!

    “Do unto others …” — a good rule to live by. . . .

    Thank you for sharing this, Carrie! It’s a very good reminder.

  12. CARRIE!!!! WHAT A WONDERFUL POST, MY FRIEND!!

    But, uh … a little too close to home to suit, especially the line, “Are you a mini-diva?”

    Oh, Lord have mercy, I used to be, and trust me, it doesn’t always show in the actions, but it’s there, insidiously in the thought processes.

    But the good news is that being an author is the antidote for “diva-tism” because all it takes is a few hard slaps and swipes, and humility comes a-racing to the rescue!! ;)

    LOVE THIS, my friend!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

  13. Carrie, this was an excellent post and sadly, one I needed to hear. Thank you!

    And Julie, so true…being an author IS the antidote. Ouch.

  14. Jan Elder says:

    GREAT post, Carrie. I used to own a small business. My biggest competitor and I got together to combine our marketing efforts and both of us won (and I am ashamed to say that SHE was the one who thought of it). It was such a great experience and after 23 years, she is still a good friend.

    That lesson stuck with me and it applies even more so to our Christian brothers and sisters. By helping to promote our “competitors” (other authors) we are making the world a little bit nicer. As Sharyn mentioned, we all have different stories to tell, and God uses our talents to promote His kingdom. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

  15. I support many of my writer friends both by buying their books and by reviewing them. I also put their reviews on my blog and post to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and send to Long Ridge Writers newsletter. I do what I can to help others. I’ve never been able to attend a conference and probably won’t be able to, since I have to work when they have them. I hope some of my writer friends get to and have a great time. I have ACFW friends in my critique group who’ve been a blessing, the one I’m in at present and also one from several years ago. I learned so much from those wonderful ladies. Be blessed and don’t be judgemental. Sometimes people don’t know the whole story. Blessings, BJ

  16. Diana Flowers says:

    As a reader and not a writer, I think that I am so much more inclined to read someone’s books who doesn’t have a diva-ish attitude whether it be on FB, blogs, book signings, or wherever I may come in contact with them.

    One thing a writer needs to realize and me as a reviewer as well, that any talent we have to write is from the Lord. In the Bible He says that HE gives this person so many talents and that person so many talents. When we become diva-ish, then we are taking credit that belongs to the Lord. Without Him, we can do nothing! The Bible also says that.

    I have been so blessed by the many writer friends I do have that are not divas, including the lovely JULIE LESSMAN, DINA, and DEBORAH above. And I have met a few divas, too, and that has been very disheartening to me as a reader of “Christian” fiction! Great article, Carrie!

  17. Diana Flowers says:

    Whew, CARRIE, I’m glad you clarified about the bling! Gotta have my bling! lol

  18. LOL SHARON!!!! I worked in a young men’s prison in MI! We had to eat our lunch there and they prepared it. We were told we should really not think about what might be in the food!!!

  19. JULIE, I would NEVER EVER have thought that of you. So assuming that is true, then it is a great example of how God gets us back in line and even improves us so that we are the antithesis of divaness, which I consider you to be! Now understand, though, that pink bling, or any bling, and pink princess nail polish does not a diva make, lol! That is just fun stuff!

  20. DEB RANEY, wow, whodathunkit? You were one of my first ACFW online teachers. And thank God we saw you enroute to the conference last year or Janet Grunst and I would have missed the flight. A real advantage of looking just as beautiful as your head shots!!! People know it is you. But I just did have to say something on the plane, lol!

  21. JAN, I only recently even thought of writing that way, as others being my competitors. As a psychologist for 25 years, we pretty much try to be cooperative in that community, overall. I do realize when I send in a proposal that one of my friend’s books might sell and mine not, but I think to go in that direction of thinking of only ourselves is not a Christian attitude. So glad that worked out for you!

  22. BARBARA, You sound like you are a real treasure to others and a definite non-diva!

  23. DIANA, so good to see you here. You are right–God gives us our talents and we need to give Him the glory. He giveth and He can taketh away. There are so many wonderful and kind authors out there. My point of the article, as a zone director, is to just caution people who are tempted to pack their “diva” attire for the conference to not do so! It is great to get a chance to post here and share my thoughts and I hope folks get something out of them that the Lord can use for their good! Blessings1

  24. Thanks, Carrie. I’m always giving God the glory and just had a post about it the other day on Lisa Buffalo’s blog. Blessings, Barb