Last night I read a pretty depressing diatribe on what it is like trying to break into publishing. The article, from a successful book author, went on for five or six pages, explaining how you should lower all your expectations right up front and then settle in for the long haul. It laid out in open terms just what you are up against in trying to not only get published, but be successful in the industry. The end of it concluded “if all of this has discouraged you, you aren’t meant to be a writer.”
I find that a tad bit unfair, rather like saying, “You know, you can break your neck riding a horse, and by the end of the day your hands and feet are going to ache, and you’ll have saddle burn, and you might also get a sunburn on the back of your neck… but if that intimidates you, you weren’t meant to ride a horse.” I think discouragement and resignation are two very different things. One means that you’re going to throw in the towel, and the other means that you are going to accept that life is hard, and nothing comes easy. We live in a society that does not honor talent as much as remunerations. If you can write a sellable book, you can sell it. If you can’t write a sellable book, you’re out of luck. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try!
For a Christian writer, in some sense it is also about proving just how serious you are about what you want. God does not often just give us what we want, He wants us to ask for it and then work toward it in faith. I can sit on my butt for the next five years praying that He will make me an author, or I can pray for wisdom and discernment and that my writing will glorify Him, and start studying up on how to find an agent. I can learn as much as I can and hope that He will bless me for not expecting Him to do it all. If it is important to you, do something about it. If you want to get married, pray about it and then start looking. Prince Charming is not going to come knocking on your door, but he might notice you if you are out there being polite and personable and friendly!
Christians seem to have a real problem when it comes to “ask, and you shall receive.” Either we do not do the asking, or we take it to mean “ask, and it’ll come to you without any effort on your part.” But there are very few times in scripture when God said, “That’s all right, you kick back and I’ll handle it.” When the Israelites cried out to be freed from slavery, Moses was required to do something. Ruth needed a husband, but she didn’t sit at home waiting for someone to happen by and notice her. She went out and worked in the fields and gained the attention of a godly man in doing so. Esther didn’t just pray about God saving her people from slaughter; she prayed and then took action.
God does not want us to do everything on our own, but He also doesn’t want us to be lazy. I believe that He honors our efforts, even if at times we are not entirely certain what we are doing. Yes, sometimes He is going to say no in spite of our efforts, but “no” does not always mean “forever.” It can mean “not right now, you have something to learn first.” The reason we want it matters the most. If it is a selfish desire, He may make us wait longer. But the nice thing is, “ask, and you shall receive” can also mean that you ask for Him to fulfill your dream, to give you the strength and wisdom to pursue it, and if it is not meant for you, to give you a heart for what He intends for your life.
Even though that might be scary, the thought of giving up what you want most, I guarantee that in spite of the pain, it will be worth it.