|Abingdon Press, May 2015|
“Nobody wants me” didn’t sound like a professional answer. Neither did, “I don’t have this figured out yet.”
The truth was I’d been writing professionally for more than 25 years for a daily scripted radio broadcast. I’d had magazine articles published and wrote for a monthly newspaper column. I’d attended writers’ conferences and taken online courses and practiced, practiced, practiced.
By that time, I had completed three novel manuscripts and collected ideas for half a dozen more. I’d networked, studied, pitched, entered contests for the unpublished, finaled, and prayed.
The one thing I hadn’t done was quit. But don’t think I wasn’t tempted. In fact, in 2008, I almost did. And I thought my quitting was noble. I prayed, “God, nothing’s happening here. If You don’t want me to pursue publishing a novel—or many novels—then I will lay it down. This is too much work and takes too much time if Your Hand isn’t in this. I’d rather give up my heart’s desire than disappoint You. So, tell me. Show me. If this pursuit pleases You, Lord, I’m all in, no matter what it costs. But I need You to show me.”
A month later, I had a book contract and my dream agent.
One would think all my writerly concerns would be over after that kind of direct answer to prayer. I wonder what I might have done if I’d known I’d signed up for a fresh batch of concerns, some of them larger than any I’d known before.
In that quiet way God has of shouting profound truths to our souls, I’d “heard” Him tell me long ago that if I would persevere, He would respond. It sounded like this: “If you will press through, I will bless you.”
Backed into a corner, up against a wall of doubts, facing what looked like insurmountable obstacles, or the collapse of an idea, I’d hear that nugget of divine poetry. If you will press through, I will bless you.
Soon it became routine—a soul-fortifying routine—to press through. Blessing lay on the other side of perseverance. The stories would fill many books. And maybe will, before I’m done with my writing assignments from Him.
I was notified of a new review the other day and popped over to the blogger’s site for what I thought would be encouragement to start my workday. It was a reviewer who had read other books I’d written and enjoyed them. This particular book, however, she did not enjoy. And she said so publicly, which she has every right to do.
Those who commented on her blog said things like, “So glad you warned me not to buy that book.”
“Thanks for the heads up. If you didn’t like, I wouldn’t either.”
“You just saved me time and money. Thanks.”
Not what an author wants to hear. I allowed myself a brief moment to mourn the review that not only wasn’t positive but had influenced others to run for the hills if they see a book with my name on it.
What else could I do then but press on? I had deadlines to meet, other books to connect with readers waiting for them, articles to write. And extended grieving over a bad review is injurious to health. So I pressed on.
Within minutes—no exaggeration—I was alerted to another review. You can imagine how hesitant I was to take a look. Same book. Completely opposite reaction to the story. Mourning minutes earlier, I was now laughing at God’s sense of humor in so quickly bringing me past the “press through” part to the “bless you” part.
Within an hour, I’d gotten a phone call that made the word blessing seem inadequate.
It was no mistake that I was led to write on this subject. I needed the reminder as much as anyone else. So much of the writing life depends on perseverance, overcoming, clinging to the Overcomer, wading through the “press through” to get to the “bless you.” With that, I’ll say thank you for spending these moments with me and go back to pressing through on the edits for my fifteenth book.
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