If you write it, they will come. It’s the ideology of most new writers. Deep down we all have this unrealistic hope. We’ve put the time, effort, and our heart into a manuscript and believe it’s something of value. The truth is that Stephen King can throw out a poorly written novel and it will be a best seller, but the unknown author can produce a masterpiece and no one notices it. You can substitute King with any other big named author and the same rule applies.
The life of writing is filled with frustration and reward. Unfortunately, the reward is not usually in your pocketbook. I want to talk a little bit about the journey of writing and get a better view on our expectations and where we should focus our attention.
We’ve all heard it said that life’s a journey. Some people enjoy the journey, others are miserable, while others live such crowded lives that they get to the end and realized they missed the journey. As writers, we have the same tendency. The goal becomes a rush to get published and so much focus is put on landing the contract or winning over an agent that we forget to stop and look around the world of writing we live in. The truth is, we are on a life-long journey and there is much to experience along the way.
I once sat at a dinner table with an agent during a writer’s conference. It became nearly impossible to have a real conversation because everyone looked at him as if he were an end to their means. For some, the agent was their hope. Every time he tried to make small talk, someone would say, “Let me tell you about my book,” and then would begin with their prepared elevator pitch. One person reached across the agent’s plate of food and offered their manuscript. Later he told me that writers put a lot of pressure on him during the one-on-one meetings. He explained how it bothered him that writers often showed desperation and made him feel that all their dreams of publication rested on his shoulders. “Being the outlet of a writer’s desperation makes me reluctant to get involved,” he said.
Herein is the problem. Desperation. Why do we write? Is it for the money? Very few authors make enough money to live on, much less enough to by a mansion next to Stephen King. If it’s fame, chock up another one in the disappointment category. How many authors can you name? Once in a while a book will come out, like the Purpose Driven Life, which launches the author into the public eye. But for every mega success, there are hundreds of thousands that are well written but remain unknown beyond the niche audience that reads it.
Christian authors will be quick to say that their goal is to glorify God. The truth is, God glorifies Himself and brings us into His work. So why the desperation and frustration? If it’s the work of God, we shouldn’t be carrying the burden of making the way. Let me share a word from the scripture found in Ephesians 2:10
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Writers have the calling to write. Obviously. But what is not always obvious is the call to walk down this road in our journey to fulfill that calling. If you truly believe God has called you to write, then you are His workmanship. And the path of good works (including writing) has been prepared beforehand that we should walk on that path. Where the path leads, I don’t know. And you don’t know. One thing we do know is that we are called to walk on the path God has already prepared. Walk. Not Run.
When we rush to find out what’s at the end of the path, we pass the treasures God has also prepared that we should find and enjoy. The life of good works is a journey, not a task. Whether the good works is writing or another mission, we must stop and consider the journey. It’s a journey of first learning to walk with our Creator, and as we enjoy true intimacy with the Lord, we also find joy in our walk down the path. The Lord walks with us, but He does not run with us. He’s prepared the way and calls us to walk where He’s going. He does not answer our call for Him to come where we are running.
Most of us give a prayer something like this, “Lord, I’m writing this book for you. I need it to get in the hands of readers, so I need TV interviews, radio interviews, and a big publisher. Here is my big plan, please bless it.” Then we rush off to make it happen. When one door shuts, we rush to the next door. And the next. In a short time we then get frustrated and wonder why God isn’t acting as we think He should. That’s when we crawl over a table, shove a manuscript into someone’s face and say, “This is God’s work!” Is it God’s work? Maybe it is, but it’s been mixed with our works. The door God wants to open is somewhere behind us, or somewhere down a path we can’t see because we have turned the work into our god. Look at this wonderful promise of Revelation 3:8
I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
God opens the door that no one can shut. The opposite is also true. When God leaves the door shut, you can’t open it. This promise was given to the church who showed a love for God and walked in His word. They weren’t perfect. But they walked with the Lord. The book contract is not your reward. Nor are any benefits we may gain along the way. It is God who told Abraham, “I am your exceedingly great reward.”
Is God your reward? Your works should be just that – works. You’ve written something that the Lord laid on your heart. That’s good. In the same way you trusted God to give you the words to write and the ability to write it, trust Him to take you down the road He has already prepared. The road is life-long. Publication is only one event in the long journey. Don’t allow a goal to draw you away from the journey. Publication may be near, or it may be years down the road. You may have one book published, many books published, or no books published. The purpose of life is not getting a book into print, but walking on the works God prepared beforehand that you should walk in them. The purpose is the journey. A journey centered on walking with the Lord.
Enjoy the journey. Enjoy the people whom God brings into your life to help you along the way, and those who are going where you are going. Enjoy learning and experiencing the world of writing. Connect with others and enjoy fellowship with likeminded Christian writers. Most of all, enjoy the journey of walking with the Lord. Go where He’s going and learn to be patient and trusting. Make it your goal to look back at the end of your life and appreciate every step of the journey. The frustrated and desperate miss the joy of experiencing fellowship with the Lord and each other. Walk in faith and let the doors be opened in the right time.
This doesn’t mean we don’t try different things, but that we try as we feel led, while resting in the knowledge that it’s God who has laid the path of our lives and will open the doors. Enjoy the journey!
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