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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Writer's Waiting Game

I've seen some great posts about how being unpublished is like being single. My friend and fellow blogger Jessica Nelson of BookingIt did a post here on that very topic, and I recently saw a post from Mundania Press, LLC here about how entering a publishing contract is a lot like entering a marriage.

Since I've yet to enter the published category in fiction, I'm somewhat of a spectator on the sidelines of publishing. During this time, it's easy to lament a lack of publishing credits so much that we fail to see what God is doing during our waiting. It's during the waiting that God strips us of our silly ideals and notions that we have to write a certain thing or present a certain way in order to reach fulfillment.

If we write only third person, stay away from the "edgier" topics, strictly adhere to the no-more-than-3-POVs rule, attend at least one writer's conference a year...then surely God will honor our righteousness with a publishing contract or at least the interest of an agent. If only we get rid of -lys, passive voice, and show--not tell--then we will be "good enough" for a second glance.

The problem comes once you've done all this. You've taken online writing courses. You've paid for the extra critiques. You've entered contests...and even won. You've done everything you were told to do by people who have traveled the path before you. But still no "call," no contract.

In the dating world, this is the equivalent to dieting, exercising, getting contacts, a makeover, and a new hairdo only to sit by the phone, waiting for a potential date to call. You might be tempted to cry yourself to sleep at night, wondering what is wrong with you.

What we fail to see is that there isn't anything wrong with you or your writing! God just isn't done teaching you. He's going to draw out your waiting period as long as it takes for you to realize that not being published isn't a "problem" and that God is still in control even while you're waiting.

We can't lose focus of why we're writing. If our ultimate goal is to give glory to God, than that can be accomplished published or not. He's going to be glorified through our persistence and dedication and desire to achieve excellence for Him. Finding fulfillment, completion, and contentment where you are in the journey is crucial to keeping that fulfillment, completion, and contentment after you've been blessed with a contract. 

We're not on the hunt for a book deal. We're on the mission to worship and serve God while we're waiting. How can you best do that? Here are a few suggestions to help encourage you in your journey:
  1. Learn scriptures you can hide in your heart, whether your heart is broken, searching, or weary from the wait. Two of my personal favorites are below.
    • Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
    • "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
  2. Have your own person cheering squad. Writers are like shy adolescents in that we need to hear when we wrote a particularly eloquent turn of phrase or when a metaphor blew someone's socks off in order to bloom with confidence. We want to know when we made a reader laugh or cry. Your critique group members and close personal friends and relatives hold a large sway over your attitude and motivation as a writer.
  3. Allow yourself a limited time to vent, then move on. It's deeply therapeutic to express thoughts and feelings over not being published instead of holding them in and letting resentment build. A good cry can be so healing, especially when done in conjunction with a cheering squad member (#2) who loves you. Ignoring those feelings will only make them build up.
I hope that this gives you some ideas of how to maintain a heavenly perspective through the writer's wait.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. 
Look full in His wonderful face. 
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim 
in the light of His glory and grace.

Click here to read the original article I wrote and based this post on.

Wordle: signature


Sarah Forgrave said...

Great post, Jeannie! I've joined the waiting game now...sent my requested material to the editor from ACFW last week. I have a feeling I'll be referencing this post a lot over the next several months. :)

Christine said...

I think of it all like being at an amusement park. I've paid my price to enter, I've ridden the safer rides, and now I'm in line for the top rated ride. Waiting. So while I wait in line I talk to the other people, make friends, take notes, learn a bit more about the ride from people who are exiting the ride to go to another ride and I inch my way slowly to the front of the line. As I get closer and closer to the front, I get more and more scared. Because that ride is scary. So I keep telling myself to stay focused on the prize, the ride, and when it's my turn, I will be ready to ride it!

Steena Holmes said...

Jeannie, I don't want to hear this. I really don't. I don't want to know that God is still teaching me, still trying to get my attention. But I read it. And I listened. And you're right ;)
I'm in the stage of shrugging my shoulders and saying 'okay, God, I'm here, I'm listening, now what?' I'm not a patient person, but this teaching me to be one. Not sure I like it though. All this stretching and growing ... its not all that fun.

Thanks for the post :0) I needed it.

Katie Ganshert said...

AMEN!! This has so much wisdom it's ridiculous. Life will not magically get all better once we're published or once we get a contract. It just changes. We celebrate for a period of time. Then we get back to life. Get back to writing.

Sierra Gardner said...

As an unpublished (and single) person I definitely get the comparison. The strongest connection - being unpublished is like being single in that all the good things happen once you stop worrying. Work hard, keep trying and stop worrying. That's always when someone (or something) good heads your way.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

sierra - your thoughts echo what i wrote in the original article for Sage. I hope you get a chance to read it....but essentially i wrote that when i stopped looking for love (b/c the article had that kind of bent to it), love found me. may the same be said of our writing adventure! :)

i'm glad everyone has appreciated this post. it was on my heart.

Melissa Sugar said...

This is beautiful and inspiring. The video adds such a heartfelt touch. I believe this and try to remind myself daily that my higher power will provide an abundance of success for me when I have mastered the lessons I need to lear. Thank you.

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