“I really dislike my book. My character is an insipid female with no strength of her own,” I typed in a text to my-friend-with-the-big-publishing-house-contract.
Which friend you might ask, and you’d be right in asking, because I have several friends who have contracts with major publishing houses. I’ve seen these friends rise to the top of their game with #1 ratings on Amazon, calls to speak hither and yon, and multiple future book deals even now in the works. I’ve had the privilege (and it has been a true privilege) of being there with them through beta reads, pre book launch discussions, launch team insider groups, and finally, sharing in the excitement of BOOK LAUNCH day!
I know, I know, I may be doing a little comparing of myself to others, and comparison is the thief of joy, right? I’ve preached that with the best of them.
Here I sit with my little blog, occasionally checking in with y’all, while working on my own book on the side. The book that alternately consumes every waking moment or lies dormant and forgotten under the other demands of life. Namely, this “staging to sell” mode I’ve been in.
With all in order here on the home front I picked up the book writing again this week and began skimming through the pages to remind myself of where I was, and after reviewing only a few chapters, I came to the conclusion that I dislike my book. Yup, if I were to pick it up in a bookstore and read the first few pages I would realize right away how beginner-ish it is and lay it right down again without giving it a second thought.
Y’all! Fiction writing is H.A.R.D.!
Making likeable characters is hard. Showing instead of telling is hard. Drawing readers into the story with all of their senses is hard.
I’m sure my husband does some inner cringing every time I tell him that I don’t know how to write good fiction and that I don’t know if I’ll ever get the hang of it (this has been an off-and-on theme in our household by the way). He looks especially dismayed when I question whether or not I should give it all up. After all the money invested in classes, conferences, computers, and tech help? Not to mention the bazillions of hours of pouring my heart out on the keyboard, only to go back and realize that what I’ve written simply won’t make the cut.
How do I know? Because I’m a reader. I know good writing. And I know that really good writing is kind of a rare thing. But that’s what I want my writing to be!
So am I giving up? No, not today. Let me share with you some things I’ve learned in my QT this week (a week of extreme frustration and discouragement) that have caused me to determine to press on.
- Monday, at my ladies-of-the-lake Bible study we had to fill in the blanks of the following statement: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me ____________. And when I do ______________, I feel His pleasure.” You might guess that the answer to this was writing. Writing is frustrating at times, but I do feel God’s pleasure when I know that the words He’s given me have touched the heart of someone else.
- Tuesday, in my quiet time I was reading a passage in the book Chase the Lion, by Mark Batterson. Here are some key thoughts I wrote down in my journal:
- God-given dreams are more about others than they are about me.
- The goal of a God-given dream should be to honor the God who gave it to me in the first place.
- Am I living to make Him famous?
- On the days when I feel like a no-name I must remember that if my dream is to honor God it doesn’t matter.
- Wednesday, I wrote this quote, also from Chase the Lion: “If you stay humble and stay hungry [for God], there is nothing God cannot do in you or through you.”
- Then Thursday: “In every dream journey there comes a moment when you have to quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. You have to go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention.”
- And today, Friday, my quiet time brought me to Psalm 63, A psalm of David, when he was hanging out in a desert. I wonder if his desert was anything like this writing desert of mine?
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
I had to ask myself what I wanted more, for this book to come to fruition or God Himself?
And I am humbled.
This week has been five days of God pouring encouragement into my heart every time I’ve turned to Him with my complaints and inadequacies. Do you know what the meaning of the number five is in the Bible? The number 5 symbolizes God’s grace, goodness and favor toward humans. Isn’t God good that He spoke to me each day this week?
Side note: If I weren’t in the habit of journaling I might not have heard God’s message to me. In truth, my journal often turns out to be God’s Personal pep talk to me.
So back to the writing table I go. At least until I hear the Lord say it’s time to lay it down.
Maybe you too, are in a place of discouragement as you pursue your own God-given dreams. If so, I hope the words that encouraged me this week might also encourage you.
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