Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bring Forth Fruit with Patience

If you've been in this writing business more than five minutes you know how much work it is. As if writing a book that might appeal to someone other than your mother isn't hard enough, it's a million times harder to attract the attention of a publisher. You may have seen the cartoon of the skeleton leaning against the mailbox waiting for a reply on a submission. Nothing is more frustrating than working hard on something the rest of the world dreams of doing, yet receiving no recognition.

I have fallen into this trap many times myself. It's difficult to keep writing when it doesn't seem like anything is happening in our careers. We ask ourselves what's the point in working so hard if I'm never going to get published.

What we need just as much as discipline and grit and vision to see our book to the end is patience. Most of us know going in the journey won't be easy. But we still want it now. I have a fantasy in my head of how the process should go.

Today my agent Terry Burns will call me and say one of the Christian publishing giants has read my latest submission and is putting it on their winter calendar. But they don't just want this one, which is sheer brilliance by the way. They want four more. A contract is in the mail, along with a hefty advance. Eight months from now after the first release, followed in rapid succession by 4 more, my name is on every bestseller list in the country and every set of lips in the reading world.

Alas, it seldom happens this way. It may seem so to the ones watching from the sidelines. Our counterparts receive multi-book contracts and we wonder why it came so easily for them. When is it our turn?

Luke 8:15 says: But that on good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Note all the action words in that passage. So much of the time Christian writers believe that since God has given them a story to tell, a message to encourage and equip the masses, that he will do all the work.

God will help and provide sustenance for the journey, but He won't do our work for us. First they heard the word. Are you studying and growing in your craft? What actions have you taken in the last month to become a better writer? What groups do you belong to that make you grow as a writer and hold you accountable for improving what you do?

Secondly, they kept the word. Have you been so discouraged lately that you slacked off in your writing time? Do you find other things to do because it isn't likely you'll get a contract anyway so what's the point in plugging along? Have you lost your desire to write and almost look for distractions to keep you from doing it? Do you lack discipline and focus in your career?

Lastly, those who sowed in good ground brought forth fruit with patience. To bring forth anything requires an act on our part. To bring it forth with patience adds another element to the task.

God will reward our diligence as long as we continue to fight toward the prize without stamping our feet and demanding things our way. Yes, it takes patience, and yes, it's hard. Instead of blaming the publishing industry for our lack of success---or the electronic addicted public or the economy or the powers that be who don't understand our vision---we need to take a good hard look at what we are doing to bring our dreams to reality.

Are we working diligently with patience to perfect our craft? Do we continually strive to grow and learn and accept criticism? Do we apply the knowledge we've acquired to make our manuscripts shine? Do we study the markets to see what will attract a publisher's attention, or do we just gripe that no one appreciates our efforts.

Bring forth fruit with patience.

Most anyone who has taken the time to write a chapter or a page or even a sentence believes in his story. He believes in its value and its merit and can't rest until the story is told. We exercise patience in writing our book. Let's exercise that same patience in finding a publisher. It's an action. No one is going to do it for us. It's won't be easy, but it will be worth the effort.


  1. Thank you so much for writing this! It was exactly the encouragement I needed today. I just finished the first draft of a novel set in Victorian England yesterday, and instead of feeling elated, I just feel so discouraged by the months I know I'll spend revising the book and sending it out to readers... and then there's the previous novel I wrote that keeps getting rejected. Lol. And I have a Master's degree in literature! It's a tough field, but you're so right: I can't imagine doing anything else. It's the writer's curse. :)

  2. Jane, I know exactly how you feel. Just keep growing in the craft, and most importantly, keep writing. I love your username. We should all keep that admonition in front of us every day. Write, Teresa, write.

    Thanks for stopping by.