Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Writer Must Persevere

In the last decade of my writing experience, I have learned one thing. If a writer intends to be published--and published consistently, the writer must persevere through circumstances, family commitments, distance, finances, discouragement, and everything that life can possibly throw at you. For it is through life's experiences that we find inspiration for our stories with the Holy Spirit's guidance.

Over the years I've met all kinds of writers: The writer who writes on occasion. The writer who tries to write everything in every genre and can't seem to find their personal nitch or writing voice. The writer who doesn't want to accept critiques and advice on polishing their manuscripts. The writer who writes in the closet and never shares his/her work and never submits it to publishers and agents. The writer who gives up writing for family commitments and returns to it years later after the kids are grown or nearly grown. The writer who writes because he/she must and who polishes and submits, polishes and submits, goes to more conferences, gets back more critiques, and polishes and submits. Of all these writers, which one(s) do you suppose has the best chance of getting published?

There is no Christian writers' group where I live, and I'm making an effort to help start one. Yet, I'm amazed when I receive comments that people can't drive more than 45-50 miles to a workshop or a writers' meeting once a month. That's 12 days (providing you make each meeting) out of a whole year with 365 days. I think back to when I was writing secular fiction and how I drove 70+ miles every month for three years just to fellowship and learn from other authors. I needed that connection. Part of me wants to plead with them. Please. Please. Please. Join us. But the commitment to do this must be inside them, and they must feel comfortable, and they must feel they can do it.

While I respect their decisions, I face my own disappointment. I need that connection with fellow Christian writers. Will this work? I have no idea, but something inside me compels me forward. If we only have three to four people who are committed to making this small group work, then maybe it will be worth it. Perhaps God wants to build an atmosphere of a close knit group that can be good friends, supportive, and encouraging to one another and the best way to do that is to have less people.

All I know is this: I want to write for God's glory, and I want it to be published and on the shelves for readers to read. God has put this desire in my heart. I was born with it. And I pray daily for his guidance on my writing efforts. I can't stop writing. I tried it once, and I ended up writing nonfiction. I can't help myself. I ended up scribbling notes to myself on paper. I might as well create a story out of it. Right?

I need face-to-face encouragement from other people who understand me. I got a rejection this week and it brought me really low. The editor only had it a few days. It wasn't rejected because it was read, and it wasn't right for their house, or the work needed improvement. That is something I can fix by rewriting it, editing it, or submitting it to another house. It was rejected because I'm not an "established author" and they are testing the market with "established authors" first. It was rejected because I wasn't being given a chance. That hurts worse than a regular rejection when your writing isn't up to par. You can't do anything about someone slamming the door in your face. You just have to take it.

That night I cried. Took a long bath. Started reading a new book. Prayed. I decided I wasn't going to write. I would just read books and be happy. If I didn't write, I could be happy that I wasn't being rejected. The next day I was up pounding away on the keys of my new book. I was happy again. I had an ending to finish on chapter 14. My husband came in the computer room and shook his head at me. "You're at it again. I don't understand you." He walked out still shaking his head. This is why I need a Christian writing group to fellowship with. He tries to understand me, but only a writer can understand the passion of another writer.

As long as this desire is strong and thriving in my heart, and God gives me the ability to persevere, I will not give up. His word says he will never forsake me. I'm in it for the long haul. I'm not giving up on a decade of learning and writing now. I have five more decades to go. I'm young. Publishers can get a lot out of me if they are willing and daring to take the chance. They might as well open their door to me sometime, I'm not going anywhere. My Bible says to keep knocking, keep seeking, keep asking, and it shall be given to you. I'm doing that on God's door and the publishers' doors. Eventually, one of those doors will have to open.

6 comments:

  1. You go, Jenn. Writing is a part of you, and you are sooooooooo close. I have a feeling ACFW is going to be one bang-up conference for you.

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  2. I'm glad you continue to write through it all.

    I think I'm a couple of those writers you described. (I used to be a closet writer - now I find I'm writing "on occasion".)

    No telling how I'll react to some of the rejections you've described here. And you're right, how can you compete with "we're testing the market with experienced writers."

    What a bunch of hooey.

    Good for you, Jenn, for stepping over the hooey and returning to the computer the next morning. It says alot about your talent and your wisdom as a writer.

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  3. So sorry about the rejection, Jenn. But more than that, I'm proud of you for continuing on! Keep at it, and I know you'll make that first sale. You've made the first step of getting a great agent. Just keep plugging away.

    As for the rejection, I have no idea who the publisher is. But it may actually be a good plan. I'm praying that starting out with established authors will start a foundation of success. Then maybe it'll open the door for new writers! So though it seems unfair, and painful (just like any rejection), it may end up being a good thing in the long run.

    Hugs and chocolate, and good for you for jumping right back in.

    Missy

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  4. Missy,

    That's a good point and I thought of that after I got over the initial sting. I pray this market test will open the door for other writers. In fact, I'm familiar with one of the authors that will be published in this genre and she's a wonderful writer. I loved her first book. In the meantime, I have more time to keep polishing that manuscript, while I work on finishing my WIP before conference.

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  5. I'm glad you're staying with it, Jenn. And don't forget... It wasn't even something wrong with your manuscript. It was just the circumstances. So don't fret about continuing to polish (although that's easier said than done! LOL). There may be another publisher out there ready to snap it up as is. It's just a matter of finding the right one at the right time.

    Missy

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  6. Jennifer,
    You described me too. I write because it is deep inside me. I have to write. I have to learn to hone the craft. And I get tired of honing and just want someone to say, "Wow, you really did it." Then I find another craft book, seminar, conference that shows me just how far I still have to go...and go...and go...I can't not do it. It's nice to know you can't not do it either:-)

    Angie
    PS My hubby can't figure me out either, lol.

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