Recent years have seen the rise of the ‘celebrity novelist’. People who became famous in the world of actual entertainment turning their hand to a fictional version. Richard Osman, Graham Norton, Mel Giedroyc, Reverend Richard Coles, Tom Hanks, Ruth Jones and Anton du Beke to name just a few.
If you follow various lists of ‘bestselling books’ then you may be aware of certain contentious issues. Such as retailers being paid to structure their ‘Top 30’ in a particular way. Celebrities having their novel published without receiving the usual rejections that most authors experience. The principle of, if it’s got their name on the front cover, it’ll sell – sometimes regardless of the quality of the content.
Being one who is a non-bestselling writer, it would be easy to become disheartened, to compare oneself with others. So it is such a joy when I, like many other non-celebrity authors, find their work recognised.
That has happened to me in just this last week when my debut novella, Looking to Move On was selected as a Finalist for the Page Turner Book Award 2023.* Whether it will make the longlist, let alone the shortlist, remains to be seen but it is an affirmation, a moment of recognition.
It’s always nice to be recognised for something, isn’t it? For someone or some organisation to give us a public accolade. Something that says, ‘look at them’ or ‘look at me’. For myself, I am very grateful and humbled to have received such recognition in several different ways over the years, not least being appointed a MBE – Prince William, Buckingham Palace, the works.
I am sure (or at least, I hope) you will have been thanked in some way or other – not necessarily in a bells and whistles type manner but perhaps more quietly. A card. Some flowers. A memorable, kind word or two. An occasion when you felt noticed.
There are of course many people who undertake what one might call ‘thank-less’ tasks – beavering away with no recognition or expressions of gratitude from others.
And it is they, that group of people who don’t get the public accolade, who are so important.
For as the apostle Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians (4:11-16), it is just some who would be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – not all. Not all are called to do those things which are seen in human eyes as being more important than others. Not all are destined to be ‘a best-seller’ or a ‘celebrity’ (and we all can thank God for that too…)
For all of us have been given the gifts that Paul refers to – the gifts Jesus gives us. So that in turn, all of us are able to equip those called to the ‘work of ministry’ as he calls it. Yet the work of ministry is in itself not limited to those who wear a dog collar or sit on committees. The work of ministry includes those who welcome, make cups of tea, arrange flowers, stack chairs, clean, visit, care or sit and listen.
All of us are involved in this work of ministry, that building up of the body of Christ. Those efforts which work towards the unity of the faith and the building up of each other in love. Until, one might say, we recognise each and everyone for who they are. So, everyone feels noticed.
For in all that we do, God recognises us – and that recognition goes well beyond the awards and rewards of this life.
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*To celebrate this particular recognition, I’m taking 25% off the RRP for copies of Looking to Move On requested directly from me – so that makes it £7.50 plus p&p. If you’d like a copy do get in touch.