Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Encouraging Words for Writers

We’ve all been told that to break into publishing, we need to write a great story, one that editors can’t put down. But we’ve also heard tales of editors who have turned down a book that went on to be a huge bestseller. No one can predict how well a book will do, but an author’s first challenge is to get past editorial and marketing committees to make that actual first sale. And the waiting period, for some of us, can be far longer than we’d ever anticipated.

In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, biblical fiction was a fading genre, and I couldn’t sell my work despite my knocking on 28 different publishers’ doors. One editor did give me the suggestion to spin my story a different way, but novice that I was, I turned her down. Sixteen years later, (and after I had finally taken that editor’s advice) the series of my heart finally sold. Today, the genre is picking up and books on King David and other biblical characters are on the rise.

But what do you do when nothing you touch turns to gold? You’ve studied the craft, you’ve written a gazillion books that are lying dormant in a file on your computer, and you’ve done all of the right things – attended writer’s conferences, networked with agents, editors, and published authors. You’ve sold smaller pieces and built your portfolio, but for reasons known only to God, you just can’t break in. Rejection hurts in any form, but if you’re like me, after years of rejection, you start to wonder if you’ve been pursing the wrong dream.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God has created us to do good works that He has planned in advance for us to do. If we are in Christ, dearly loved children of God, then He is working in us, and has plans for us that only we can fulfill. He’s given us gifts and talents and desires that were placed there by Him. When we understand what those gifts and talents are, it is up to us to use them. But sometimes it’s not always easy to tell the exact way in which our gifts are to be used.

Sometimes our own self will can get in the way of God’s best for us.

How do we recognize when we are being too stubborn to listen to voices of reason, maybe even God’s still small voice telling us it’s time to move on, as opposed to persevering through the fiery trials of rejection to reach the goals we believe God gave us?

If we are obeying God in the things His Word commands and seeking Him with all of our hearts, then we should ask ourselves, what is it we love to do? Do we love to write? Are stories burning within us waiting to be told? Then to obey Him, we must write those stories to the very best of our ability.

But God has not told us what He will do with those good works He’s planned for us. He has only commanded us to do them. So write the stories of your heart, then place them in His hands. And keep placing them there even when the rejections come. Keep placing them there when doubts replace hope. And in the process, keep an attitude of submission – one that says you will follow Him to publication or to a completely different pursuit. You will even follow Him into the seemingly endless place called waiting.

If God has placed a passion in our hearts to write, we can do nothing less than write the words, pen the stories, create with all our ability. Then if publication is our dream, pursue it, doing all in your power to be the best you can be. But in the end, in the midst of your perseverance and rejections, keep those stories, those dreams and desires, in an open hand. The results are up to Him.

by guest host Jill Eileen Smith
The Wives of King David Series
Michal: A Novel - ECPA Bestseller!
Abigail - Releases February 1, 2010
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group


  1. Thanks for sharing this word of encouragement. It's so simple--and so hard--to "leave the results up to Him." I appreciate this reminder.

  2. I have so enjoyed reading other writers' encouraging tips. I probably need it more than anyone. Thanks Jill for reminding us to stay rooted in Him.