For many years, I was a closet writer. I just wrote in my diary, wrote short stories that I threw away after a few pages, and wrote articles that stayed safely tucked away in files on my computer. Then I realized it was time to stop hiding my talent, like the lazy servant (Matthew 25: 14-30).
I began writing articles, sending them out for publication. When I received the generic rejection letters after an agonizing six to ten weeks later, I would feel depressed; this means I’m not a real writer, I’d think. Today, I still don’t love rejection letters, but I realize they are part of the territory. If I can’t take constructive criticism, then I need to get out of the business while I can.
Editors are not man-eating sharks, who love ruining your life. (Ok, some of them are sharks, but most of them are decent human beings, who love to write and read themselves!). They are busy people, with wisdom and an eye for detail, and they know what sells and what readers want. Listen to them! Then re-write!
I gave defeat the boot, and eventually some articles were published in smaller magazines. My husband lovingly framed my first acceptance letter. I was paid just $25 for a short article, but you would have thought it was $250,000. I was ecstatic. Finally, I was published! These articles motivated me to begin setting higher goals…and then life happened.
For the last several years, our family has gone through some really hard, stressful events, and for a season I laid down speaking and writing to concentrate on our family’s needs. This year as things have calmed down a bit, I began sticking my little toe back into the water, and am now again focusing on blogging, writing articles for publication, and speaking ~ being careful to make sure that God and my family come first. But I try to write every day!
Mary DeMuth, Christian speaker and author of Daisy Chain and Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, encouraged me today in her May 6 blog post on writing, The Story Behind Yesterday’s BreakPoint. Wow. http://www.relevantblog.blogspot.com/. Here is an excerpt from her post:
Simply put: don’t give up.
Don’t neglect to exercise the gifts God has given you.
Don’t despise small beginnings.
Be patient for God’s plan to unfold.
Sometimes it may feel as if nothing is happening as a writer or speaker, or doors are not opening fast enough. A national Christian speaker whom I recently contacted for tips on getting more speaking opps told me that with the economy the way it is now, even well-known speakers are not being paid what they’re usually paid…and are getting less speaking engagements than they usually book each year year.
She said pastors are no longer willing to pay large amounts for even seasoned speakers. She also said that many women are no longer attending events like they used to…they are too busy, have babysitting problems, or can’t afford it. Also, there’s a new transition taking place; everything is online now. Why drive or fly far away to a conference, when you can listen by MP3 in the comfort of your own home?
She said it takes time to achieve the level of writing and speaking success we desire. We should not be discouraged. The book of Ecclesiastes says there is a season, a timing, for everything. God has perfect timing. He is never late.
Often I feel like a race horse, chompin’ at the bit behind the gate…and it seems God and everything in my life moves at a turtle pace (even car traffic! Why are they driving so slow?). A lot of times we want to run ahead of God, before we’re ready for something. But He has to prepare the soil of our hearts.
Cindy Rushton, my role model for writing success, says, “We have to do a lot of dirt work first.” She gave the example of when she and her husband Harold began building their dream home in the country. Harold winded up buying a bobcat because there was so much dirt work he needed to get done (and hiring someone to do it is very expensive!). The dirt work is messy, hard, long hours of work. But it’s necessary for a level, secure foundation.
To achive our writing and speaking dreams, we have to do the dirt work first! We have to lay the right foundation, which is that of our faith in Jesus Christ. He is the reason we write ~ for His glory. He has given us these gifts of writing and speaking. And we should not hide or waste them, but be faithful with them.
We have to “just do it,” as the popular Nike slogan says. Write. And write some more. Re-write. And never stop writing! Learn from others who have gone before us, and are now a success. Same thing with building a speaking platform.
This morning, I listened to pastor’s wife Lisa McKay, who spoke for A Woman Inspired 2009 conference. These web site has a variety of articles on marriage, parenting, home decor, ministry, writing, blogging, and more.
Lisa spoke about our calling from God in her presentation, Bigger Than Your Biography. She said something that really ministered to me: “The thing that we’ve had to work hard for is precious.”
We don’t know why God seems to open doors more easily for others. It does seem like some people get everything handed to them on a silver plate. That is probably not the reality. In fact, I recently emailed a writer friend who has a hugely successful ministry, and commented on how fast her ministry had grown since I first met her. What was the key? She told me it was not fast at all; it had taken her over 20 years to get where she is today. And it is called work! It just seemed fast to me, when I compared myself with her. Which we should not do! We all have our own timetable with God!
Lisa also shared at The Woman Inspired 2009 conference that we should look at our lives, and see if we’re being totally faithfully with what we’ve been given now, before God gives us more ~ perhaps more than we could handle.
She said that we should look at the motive of why we’re doing it; is this what God has really called us to do, or are we doing something because it looks pretty on someone else? We need to check our hearts.
Are we doing everything now that God has given us with excellence? Are we taking care of our family to the best of our ability? Are our homes in order, or is everything falling apart while we’re pursuing our passion?
Lisa said we need to be thankful for our houseful of children. Our family, next to God, is our priority. She said it does not matter how successful your public ministry is, if your family feels neglected.
As wives, our job is to be our husband’s help-mate. She also said that motherhood is the highest calling there is. I totally agree! Being able to be a mom is sacred – the greatest job on earth! And if my husband or our daughter feel like my writing or speaking matters more than they do, then I have failed at my most important job! Does your husband feel overshadowed by your ministry or business? Or does he come first?
We must find that serene place of balance and focus. It starts with time with God. We should not overlook our family. We also cannot neglect to use the gifts God has put inside of us, because that is wasting something precious from the Lord. He wants us to use our gifts! We can do both, and we can do them with excellence. We can learn to compartmentalize our lives, organize our days, and manage our time effectively.
We don’t have to be a closet writer or speaker. We can step out in faith, like Peter walking on the water. As long as we keep our eyes on Jesus, we will not sink. We can do and be what God has called us to do and to be ~ the mighty woman of God that He desires us to be! His scribe. His messenger of hope and truth. He has given us something to say, and we need to share it to others who need encouragement and faith.
We should not despise small beginnings. We may be taking what feels like baby steps right now, but have a big future ahead! God says in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has good plans for us, for a future and a hope!
As we are faithful with what is in our hands, God will give us increase. He will give us the desires of our heart. Lisa referred to Psalm 37: 3-5 as the basis for her teaching, and I will share it here also:
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness; Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; Trust also in Him; And He shall bring it to pass.”