If you’re like me you might have stumbled into writing. You always loved the power of story, but never actually imagined you would one day have a published novel. You toyed with story lines, even wrote them down. None of them were superb, or ever completed. Then one day a story so real, so unshakable, infiltrated your existence and you just had to write it down. You labored, you toiled, you backspaced and typed line upon line over again. And finally you typed the last word on the manuscript and sat back with a satisfied puff of breath.
You started submitting the manuscript to publishers. And when the redirection letters started pouring in, you demanded perseverance and perkiness of yourself.
But doubt knocked on your door.
You prayed. Oh how you prayed, that God would do with your story what He willed (but reminded Him that it would sure be nice if He would allow you to get published along the way). You may have even gotten so discouraged and busy with other of life’s pressing matters that you let God know He would have to “drop a publisher in your lap” if He wanted the story to go anywhere, because you didn’t have time to keep shopping it. But all that time, stories still percolated in the back of your mind. You just didn’t have the self-esteem to think they were any good. After all, your first story never got accepted.
Perhaps this was all just a waste of time.
Ten years and innumerable edits later, a publisher nearly literally dropped into your lap, and the story was picked up by a small publishing house. You had actually given up on them even replying to you, since it had been so many months from the time you submitted to them. But the day came when you opened your email and there was a message with your book’s title in the subject line and a return address that stopped your heart. Cringing you opened the missive, expecting yet another rejec— er— redirection.
You gasped as you read the acceptance email letter. You wiped away tears and read the letter again. You printed it out and put it under your pillow so you could pull it out at all hours of the night and read it again whenever the muse struck – which was every ten minutes. (Okay, so maybe that is a slight exaggeration. Slight.)
And you happily signed that first contract without so much as a flicker of a concern, because you knew God had orchestrated this acceptance-from-the-slush-pile as surely as you knew you loved your firstborn.
The small publisher offered no advance, but that was okay with you because you were about to be published! (And you knew the realities about writers mostly being poor and all that jazz. Sigh.)
Up to this point you’ve made no money on your writing. In fact, you are in the red as far as income vs. expenditures go. (Writing conferences, writing books, writing programs, writing groups – all have fees associated with them.) You look at your bills. You look at the amount of time it takes to write. Your doubts begin to rise. Is this really what you should be doing? Is this really where God wants you spending so much time?
You remind yourself that a prominent writer once asked you a question. “Why would God give you such a burning desire to write, if He didn’t want you to do something with it?” You push your doubts aside, remind God that you need a little money now and then (even though you are pretty sure He already knows this), and press on.
A year into your publishing contract, you submit a second story and expect it to be months before you hear back from the publisher on this one, too. But, amazingly, it is less than a week before you get an acceptance. You are pleased, but you still struggle with doubt. You’ve gotten a couple 3 star reviews. You sigh. You still aren’t sure if you are a really good writer. You still wonder if this is really where God wants you to be.
About a year later, you get accepted by an agent. The agent tells you that you are a better writer than another writer he knows who has over 50 books out. You say thank you. You are so excited to work with him.
All this affirmation….
And still you have doubts. You sit down in front of the one hundred thousand words that need to be edited, and you despair that you will ever make a story out of them. Then you despair that if you do ever make a story of them, someone out there still isn’t going to like it very much. (You know this is inevitable, but you still think about it. You still hope to make the story good enough that you might avoid passive impressions.)
And I say to you, if you are like me, welcome to the world of writing. You are an artist. You will always doubt yourself. And there would be something wrong with you if you didn’t. Doubt is good. It makes you think things through. Makes you work hard to be the best you can be. Makes you reaffirm time and again that yes, this is where you ought to be. What you ought to be doing.
Get over it. Press on. Write that next word. Sentence. Paragraph. Story.
Pray. Give it to God. Ask Him to use it. Do your best. Pray some more.
Then write on….
Okay, I’m done preaching to myself now. Back to writing.
Linda Apple is the author of Writing From Your Soul, Writing Life ~ Your Stories Matter, Connect ~ A Simple Guide to Public Speaking for Writers, POW; Promises Kept and Women Of Washington Avenue, her debut novel and the first book in her Moonlight Mississippi series. Her personal experience stories have been published in 16 of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her devotions have been published in numerous devotion magazines and books. She lives in Fayetteville Arkansas with her husband, Neal, their five children, five children-in-love, and ten grandchildren.
Jody Bailey Day writes inspirational fiction from west Texas. Her debut novel, Washout Express, released June 2013 from Harbourlight Books. Her short stories, poems, devotionals, and articles have appeared in Mature Living, Splickety Magazine, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Southern Writers Magazine, and Christiandevotions.us, She is a two time Grand Prize Winner at the East Texas Christian Writers Conference, and a Faithwriters.com Best of the Best award winner. She and her pastor husband have six grown children and nine grandchildren.
Deborah Dee Harper writes from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, by way of Michigan, Kentucky, Alaska, Mississippi, and Alaska (again). Deb is a graduate of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild classes and writes Christian humorous and inspirational books for both children and adults. Her children’s adventure series, Laramie on the Lam, available in both e-book and print, is being re-published as six individual print books. Her Road’s End series (Misstep, Faux Pas, and Misjudge) for adults is also contracted and should be published soon. She is currently nearing completion on the first book of another series. She is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency.
Lisa Lickel is an award-winning multi-published inspirational novelist, blogger, reviewer, and writing mentor. A freelance editor, Lisa loves all things historical. Her work has appeared in Writer's Digest and Christian Fiction Online.
Liberty Speidel has been a voracious reader since reading her first Nancy Drew book. But she was telling stories long before then with her figurines from Disney's Rescue Rangers. When she's not writing, you may find her gardening, baking, crocheting, or hiking. A lifelong Kansan, she now resides in the Kansas City metro area with her husband, children, and chocolate Labrador, where she could rival Captain Jean Luc Picard in consumption of Earl Grey tea. She is the author of Emergence, Retaliation, and Capitulation, novellas and novels in her series featuring superhuman and police detective Darby Shaw.
Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in English literature (Renaissance) and for eighteen years taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His poetry has appeared in leading journals and is collected in his book Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond.His fiction includes a light-hearted mystery, Rhapsody in Red, and two suspense novels, Deadly Addictive and The Lazarus File, and a historical romance, Lightning on a Quiet Night. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ groups and conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he continues to write fiction and poetry, as well as essays on writing, ethical issues, and U.S. foreign policy.
Editor/Author Linda Yezak lives with her husband in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She is a speaker/lecturer for various writers' groups and conferences. Her fiction books include Give the Lady a Ride, The Simulacrum, and The Cat Lady's Secret. Her nonfiction books include Writing in Obedience, co-written with Hartline Literary agent Terry Burns.
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