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Posts Tagged ‘crazy writing journey’

Do you ever have those days or weeks when you wonder if all the effort you’re putting into something is worth it? I’m sure this could apply in so many situations other than writing – we all get tired and discouraged at times, don’t we? But often authors seem to be a prime target in this regard. We pour ourselves into some novel or work of non-fiction, editing and rewriting and searching for a publisher. Yet even then, the journey is not over by a long shot. In Australia at least, and in Christian circles in particular, the author has to expend a lot of energy on promotional work and speaking. Publishers are too small and too under-resourced to help greatly in this regard. Book promotion can be a fascinating and fulfilling experience – but it can also contain considerable challenges and discouragement. After all, not everyone might be as enthusiastic about your book as you are and, in particular, grasp how it might be relevant or helpful or challenging for the kingdom of God.

Recently, someone asked me straight out whether my books were ‘selling well’. I smiled but stifled a sigh. Over the four years since my first novel was published, I have never been able to find a satisfactory answer to this question – and now my fifth novel Heléna’s Legacy has just been released, I am still no wiser. After all, where is the benchmark with which to compare my sales? I know how many I have sold myself of each title and have at least some idea how many the bookstores have purchased. But can I really compare those figures with sales of other Christian novels here in Australia, even if I knew them? After all, I write general fiction, while others might write romantic or historical fiction or both – one genre might well be more popular than another.

Now I understand such questions might be asked with my wellbeing in mind. Yet I wondered from this person’s facial expression and her slightly incredulous tone of voice whether she might not be such a fan of my books and was at a loss to know who could possibly enjoy them enough to continue buying them! Or was she coming from the same place as someone else who told me recently she was in the process of reading one of my novels and was enjoying it. However, she was having difficulty, she said, in reconciling herself to the fact that I had written it! Hmm.

But for all this, I know I’m doing what God wants me to at this stage of my life. And if I was in any doubt about that, some words of Jesus I read this morning in John 15:16 soon fixed that:

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.

By God’s grace, these words reminded me yet again that this whole crazy writing journey isn’t just my idea. I know God clearly called me to begin writing almost eight years ago now and challenged me to ‘bear fruit’ through both writing and speaking. And I can still rest in that fact – even on days when I am a little low on energy. I can approach my current writing project at peace with God, myself and the world, knowing the ‘success’ or otherwise of my books is ultimately in God’s hands.

And that’s the best antidote for discouragement any author can have, don’t you think?

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I often think that in this crazy writing journey I’m on, one of the main attributes required to keep going is plain old courage.  In the past few weeks, I have spent hours investigating more online sites and social networks where my novels could perhaps be promoted – and in my opinion, such a task isn’t for the fainthearted!  Many times I found myself tempted to give up on the whole idea – particularly when, after painstakingly entering bits and pieces of information on one occasion, I managed to lose the lot!  And after all, who would bother to give more than a cursory glance to the information and images on any ‘author page’ I might put together – particularly those subscribers living in the US, from where most of these sites emanate?

Then in the midst of all this frustrated effort, a phrase I heard over twenty-five years ago popped into my mind.  It was from another time in my life when I was embarking on something quite challenging for me.  I was returning to study after a long break looking after our three children – and this necessitated my ‘resurrecting’ any German and Japanese I had known from around thirteen years earlier but had hardly touched in those intervening years.  Eventually, I found myself in a class with eight other students, one of whom was a native German speaker, having to introduce myself in German and speak for a few minutes about my life.  I remember shaking in my boots, as I tried to dredge up that hidden cache of German words somewhere in the depths of my brain, and hoping against hope the lecturer would excuse me from such an ordeal.

But he didn’t.  Instead, he smiled patiently at me and said softly: ‘Sie brauchen Mut!’  (‘You need courage!’).  And he was right.  Taking a deep breath, I stumbled on and somehow made it out the other side.

So how about you?  As you face the new year, do you need to hear those gently challenging words too – ‘Sie brauchen Mut’?  Do you too need to take a deep breath and plunge on, despite all the misgivings churning around inside you?

Isn’t it wonderful though that we’re not left to do it all alone?  Yes, we have to take courage and act – but God has promised to be with us every step of the way.  We have God’s Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Encourager – the one whose very name means ‘the one called alongside’, the one sent for the purpose of helping.

And I find that more than a little encouraging, don’t you?

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