First, a note: I'm sharing this look back at my writing career (so far) with fear and trembling, because I used to read "How I got Published" posts and articles like an addict looking for her latest fix. I thought if I took all the steps my favorite authors took, I would get published and have the success those authors did. Instead, I should have spent more time seeking God and less time worrying about the path my own writing career would take.
This journey has been arduous (it's not for the faint of heart!) but so worth it. And I want to give praise to God, not myself, for what He's done. In His extravagant grace and love, He took an immature, driven-instead-of-led girl and opened doors for me to get paid doing something I would do for free. May His name be praised!
If you long to write, I hope you'll find encouragement--and a bit of caution--in my story. I pray He leads you to the writing career that's perfect for you, whether it looks similar to anyone else's path. That's what He's done for me.
When God called me to write books, I thought it would be easy to break into the book industry. (I’m sure God laughed at my naïve plans.) After all, I had been a freelance writer since my teens, garnering a list of credits in magazines and newspapers. I had a degree in professional writing from a university. And I knew how to deal with rejection. So I thought, anyway.
I'm glad that at the time God gave me my first book idea, I didn’t know I would endure fifty rejections—for five different book proposals--over a period of several years before signing my first book contract.
The “thanks but no thanks” letters from publishers and agents came in the mail so frequently that I began to question not only my ability, but also my calling. Many nights, I poured out my frustration to God--and my patient husband. Did I hear You right? I’d pray. Maybe I should pack up my computer and do something else.
One day, my hubby asked, “Is this something you need to set a deadline for? Say, if you don’t get a book deal within three years, you’ll give up?”
In my heart, I knew the answer. “No,” I said. “I know I’m called to do this. I can’t NOT write. I have to keep going.”
And each time I felt like I couldn’t write one more word, or endure one more rejection, God gave me confirmation (such as a “I needed what you wrote today!” note from a reader, a timely scripture, or a perfect-for-me sermon) that I was on the right track.
I grew so much spiritually through the process of becoming published. Sometimes, our callings from the Lord have more to do with what He will do in us rather than through us.
When that first book contract offer came in my email in-box, I felt unbridled joy…relief…and gratitude. Two weeks later, a co-author and I received a second offer for a compilation book, which became a two-volume series. And a week later, a stellar agent offered to represent us. The timing couldn't have been better, since I had just found out I was pregnant with our second son, and I needed to go "part-time" at my job. Isn't it just like the Lord to be right on time?
Then, for several years in the late ‘90’s, I went through another season of excruciating rejection. I thought I would never sign another book contract. To be honest, I fought with the Lord over it.
You know what He showed me? Being an “author” had become an idol to me. And over the course of several months, through lots of tears, conversations with wise friends and family members, and--yes--a few private temper tantrums, I made peace with writing for God alone.
I felt truly content (most days) writing on my blog, contributing to The High Calling, and working at at non-profit (a job He miraculously provided, which is another story for another day).
And then, as He's apt to do sometimes, very gradually and ever-so-graciously, God gave me back a book-writing ministry. A dear sister in the Lord--a friend with whom I'd longed and prayed to write for years--literally had a book idea in the middle of the night. She called me and said, "God told me that I needed you to do it with you."
I loved the idea, and felt a green light from God to help her with the proposal. An agent- friend took us on as his client, even though he wasn't accepting clients, because he saw the potential of the concept. Greg sent the proposal out the day we sent it...and for the first time, I had two offers from two different publishers for a book.
It was so different...so unexpected. Mercy. Grace. So humbling! If I could have stayed on my knees 24 hours a day in gratitude, it wouldn't have been enough.
This time around, I had His perspective on the whole thing. This time, I felt a lot less anxiety about the future, and my role in whatever happened (or didn't).
The book will release in 2013 from Kregel. Would you pray for it to be a healing resource for women who need Jesus? That whatever publicity and promotion we receive will point to Him and not to us? I'd sure appreciate it!
There have been other areas of my life in which I’ve had to surrender, whether I felt like it or not; whether I understood His plan or not. Sometimes, I've questioned Him. There have also been seasons during which I stubbornly refused Him.
But when I obeyed, the rewards have been numerous: Peace. Confirmation. Affirmation. Provision. A deeper faith.
And to tell you the truth? I wish I'd said YES a lot more often, with more enthusiasm. Because there's nothing God loves more than His children trusting Him with absolutely everything. As Psalm 34:4 says, “Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him.” (MSG)
Our Maker, who knows the future and created us to find our ultimate fulfillment in His arms, longs to lead us into an amazing future. But in order to do that, He must also save us from ourselves. He knows that because of our limited view and human frailties, our desires—if left unchecked--will lead us to destruction.
However, as we die to our own agenda, He changes us to be more like Jesus. II Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
And isn't that what life's really all about, anyway?
(Image by Gene Howard.)