So I had intended to post my review of Yours Truly, Thomas this week, but God woke me up at 2:30 in the morning and wouldn’t let me go until I wrote this…and I think it will apply to everyone out there on some level.
So in case you are feeling rejected, unworthy, and unwanted, you’re not alone.
Yesterday I received a rejection on my manuscript…again. The simple answer is I only need one “Yes” to move me from “aspiring” author to “published” author, but the reality is the “No” still hurts.
And it hurts no matter what form it comes in, whether it be a rejection in a relationship, career, or long awaited goal…because deep down, we all want to be accepted and loved by our peers. I know God wants to be King of our Heart and that we should not value other’s opinion of ourselves (or our writing) above HIS opinion. But the human condition, such as it is, struggles and still hungers for the approval of others.
Maybe this is just the revelation of my sinful heart. In fact, I know it is. But the first step in changing is accepting you have a problem, and so I stand here before you saying I have a People Problem. I’m a people pleaser.
Yet, I’ve always felt like the square peg trying to fit into the round hole. Oh, everyone likes me well enough, but I never seem to quite fit in. When everyone was reading Harry Potter (I did try people) and romance novels, I was reading stories like The Three Musketeers, Treasure Island, War of the Worlds. When romance authors today do polls of their favorite romance movies or novels, I’m woefully ill-equipped. I’ve not seen most of them, and the ones I did see were snarky and sarcastic (Ten Things I Hate About You). The only classic romance novels I read were Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and a few required reading at school. While I enjoyed them well enough, it’s the adventure stories that draw me.
I love the action of battles between good and evil. The romance of the hero rescuing the girl, or even the girl rescuing the guy. I like complex stories that engage the mind. Movies like Now You See Me and The Tourist.
Kiss scenes gross me out. I seriously cannot watch them…and I’m a married woman, for heaven’s sake! My husband is the romantic one, and while I love it, I don’t seem to have the same knack for it as him. And I feel awful, because it doesn’t mean I love him any less, I just am not good at creating surprises for him that are romantic.
I feel so woefully out of place in this world, and yet, I’m supposed to market myself? Get people interested in what I have to say? There is a quote I wish I could use from a dear friend’s manuscript here, but since it’s yet unpublished I can’t. Suffice it to say, she taught me, it’s not the words I have to say, but the words Christ has to say through me.
May the stories that well up from within me come from His precious place. Because I am not enough, and I think that is the point.
We are not enough…without Him.
We are not good enough, because only He is.
My words will fail and be forgotten, but His words have stood the test of time, crossed barriers they should have never crossed, and been spread across the world and cultures despite strong suppression in many places.
I’m still hurting. I still have no idea where I fit in this marketing world. I still feel like my crazy story ideas are square pegs trying to fit into round holes. But I’m choosing to rest in His words.
Specifically, in Psalm 139.
So if you are like me, and you struggle to find your worth, whether it be in the midst of a relationship or career rejection, or just in the midst of living everyday life, this Psalm is for you. It was written with YOU in mind. And even if you have read it a million times, slow down, read it out loud word for word, and really soak it in.
Any emphasis below is my own, but I encourage you to pray over it. To write His words on your heart.
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
1 You have searched me, Lord,
and YOU KNOW me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
YOU PERCEIVE MY THOUGHTS from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH ALL MY WAYS.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it COMPLETELY.
5 YOU HEM ME IN behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 WHERE CAN I GO FROM YOUR SPIRIT?
WHERE CAN I FLEE FROM YOUR PRESENCE?
8 If I go up to the heavens, YOU ARE THERE;
if I make my bed in the depths, YOU ARE THERE.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
YOUR RIGHT HAND WILL HOLD ME FAST.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
FOR DARKNESS IS AS LIGHT TO YOU.
13 For YOU CREATED MY INMOST BEING;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I AM FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE;
your works are WONDERFUL,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
ALL THE DAYS ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and KNOW MY ANXIOUS THOUGHTS.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®
As a writer, it is inevitable that life will interrupt. Whether it be piles of laundry and your kids reminding you they had to wear the same pair of underwear three times this week (hasn’t happened yet this month, but we’ve come close), or it being something more dramatic.
For me, it has been the latter. Rather than give a play-by-play, here is an overview of what August 1st to October 1st looked/looks like for me. (Stick with me, I promise there is a connection in there for you.)
The Chaos of My Life
- Small Weekend Writer’s conference
- Unexpectedly bought a house (We’d given up on finding one.)
- Pack the entire house by myself (Umm… not even half-done yet.)
- My mother-in-law who lives with us had mobility issues resulting in hip replacement surgery (and lots of caregiving that is getting better but still not done yet)
- Husband traveled out of town at least four to five weeks of the last eight
- I am sole transportation for everyone
- I am the popcorn kernel for my son’s Cub Scout troop (What was I thinking?)
- Preparation for American Christian Fiction Writers Conference – write a proposal, make a one-sheet, order business cards, edit my manuscript, revise synopsis, write blurbs for other story ideas, write thank you notes and encouragement cards (super important to me)
- Close on the house five days after I return from ACFW
- Move into new house
- and now I have found out my dad has to have a heart cath and possible stent. At the moment we don’t know when the surgery will be, but pray with me that it isn’t while I am at ACFW. I am driving five other people to Nashville so it isn’t like I can just back out.
Needless to say, from August to October, I have been a bit overwhelmed… kind of like trying to outrun a T-Rex in a Geo Metro. (Do they even make those anymore?)
Responding When Life Interrupts
So how does a writer (or any person) respond when life interrupts and the chaos presses in so hard that you just want to hide under the covers and never come back out?
Two of the easiest and hardest words: Trust God.
God knew the timing of all this. He knows that I have no strength on my own to deal with this. It is more than I can handle. Don’t believe that hogwash that God won’t give you more than you can handle. He will. But only so that you must turn to Him and rely completely on Him to get you through. We cannot face the struggles of this life on our own, but He can fight the battles for us.
I wish I could give you a trick to trusting God more, but honestly, the only “tricks” I can give you is to (1) have an open communication line with God and to (2) keep His Words in sight and mind as much as possible.
Don’t worry about long or even formal prayers. Toss a few words out, even if the only one you can form is Jesus. We are so blessed in that the Holy Spirit intercedes for use and gives the words that we cannot form. That One Name can communicate so much.
Then there are the moments you are so angry and frustrated you can’t see straight. Vent it out to God. I promise He can handle anything you dish out. He already knows what you are thinking and feeling and I guarantee you that He would rather you come to Him than shut Him out.
Sometimes I have literally broken out laughing like a crazy woman because if I didn’t, I would cry. And you know what? God gets that, too. He’s even been gracious in sending me little moments of real laughter. (Send me all the corny jokes you’ve got, people!)
God wants to be there for you. Don’t shut Him out when you need Him most. And I am completely honest here. There have been weeks where I have thrown my own temper tantrum and told God I don’t want to talk to Him right now and I don’t want to read His word. I know it probably hurt Him, but He didn’t turn away. He just held me and patiently waited until I came back. It happens, but it doesn’t make Him stop loving you or wanting you.
I just want to leave you with some verses that I have clung to during this overwhelming time. May they help you on the days you have no strength left to give. If I can be praying for you, please let me know. Contact me privately, or leave it in the comments. As always I covet your prayers. I leave for ACFW in six days and my world hasn’t stopped shaking yet.
“I brought you from the ends of the earth and called you from its farthest corners. I said to you: You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you: I will help you; I will hold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:9-10
“You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. He is with you Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow go out to face them, for Yahweh is with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:17
“I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that is high above me.” Psalm 61:2
“For You are my Rock and my Fortress, You lead and guide me because of Your name.” Psalm 31:3
Authors are unique creatures. They live in dark caves and talk to people that don’t exist in the physical world. Once in a while, they emerge into the light, blinking and searching for a cup of Starbucks and a handful of chocolate.
They spend months, sometimes years, writing stories that leave you wondering where the day went and how you could be so distraught to end a journey with people that never existed. They want you to get lost in a book. To become the characters that have haunted their heads until they bled them onto paper.
More than anything, authors want you to be touched by the story and given the opportunity grow into a better person. Why? Because the best authors aren’t just invested in their book, they are invested in you.
Today I want to give you some ways you can encourage the author’s you read and none of it costs any money, just a little bit of your time.
10 Ways to Encourage an Author:
1. Make memes from quotes in the story.
Everyone loves a good meme, and authors are no different. It is fun to see what quotes stuck out to you. We love and appreciate them because we know it takes time, and time is a precious gift. (Plus they are a great way to spread the word.)
2. Write a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, GoodReads, and Christianbook.com.
They don’t have to be long, just a few words saying you liked the book. All these wonderful places work on algorithms that take into account the number of reviews a book has before they suggest them to other readers. Publishers also take into consideration these numbers when considering contracting them for another book. It is a great way to help an author.
3. Ask your library to order a copy of the book.
You don’t have to buy the book yourself. Order it from the library and get your friends to read it, too.
4. Talk about the books with your friends and on social media.
Word of mouth is still the #1 way a person hears about a book and decides if it is worth looking into.
5. Take a picture of you with the book and share it to the author’s social media page.
We love to see our readers. It gives us a face and makes us smile.
6. Write a note to an author.
Just even writing a simple message on Facebook to the author can make the worst writing day into a good one. Think they are too busy or don’t want to hear from you, the majority are dreaming of the day they hear from a reader. A lot of authors I know keep these notes in files on their computer to go back to and read. Just like getting a note in the mail from someone you know makes you happy, authors love to hear from readers.
7. Add their book to your Good Reads list or Listopia.
Other readers love these sites and look to them for the next good read. It is another opportunity for word of mouth, and it doesn’t take long at all.
8. Follow them on social media.
There is a certain aspect of numbers when submitting proposals to agents and publishers, but authors really just want to interact with other readers and writers. We are people, too, with regular lives and struggles.
9. Sign up and read our newsletters.
Don’t sign up if you don’t want to, but it always makes me feel good when someone wants to know about my writing life, family struggles, and other author life goings-on.
10. Pray for them.
At least in the Christian market, most authors I know are doing this for you and to serve God. It is a hard, lonely road that takes many tolls. We covet prayers. Sending a prayer via email, messenger, or even posting it to a page, is just about the best encouragement a soul can receive.
What are some other ways you support authors? Do you have any ideas on how to encourage them? Any experiences you would like to share? I challenge you today to pick one of the ten things above and encourage an author you know. You never know what a difference a little bit of time can make to them.
It was 2 A.M. and I should have been writing a new scene to add to my story, but I wasn’t. I was deleting emails. Those precious hours that I sacrificed sleep for were wasted because I just couldn’t bully my way through anymore edits and I didn’t want to admit it.
Thankfully, God hit me over the head, said “Go to bed. We will talk in the morning.”
A Not So Quiet Time With God
As I have the tendency to do, I hit the floor running and didn’t stop until it was my planning period at school. I had this overwhelming need to just snuggle in with God in a big comfy chair (my imagination would have to do because, hello, school chairs?) and dig into His Word.
Thankfully, I had planned ahead and brought my Bible so I could verse map Matthew 11:29. As I tore the verse apart and looked at gentle in its original Greek, I came across something so powerful it had to be shared.
Gentle = Meek
The Biblical definition of gentle (Greek word praÿs) is mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness. I am not one to stop at the end of a definition. If there is added text to expand on the meaning, I dig in, and BlueLetterBible.org expounded on meekness and revealed a stunning truth.
Meek Does NOT Mean Weak!
In fact, to be meek requires a great amount of maturity, a certain strength that can only be gleaned through complete reliance on God.
“Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend against injustice.Thus meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time (Isaias 41:17, Luke 18:1-8). Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will (Galaltians 5:23).”
Did that hit you square between the eyes like it did me? Oh, my goodness. It still gives me chills. I just want to soak this up into my soul.
The Meek Are Not Weak
This, THIS is what I want my stories to communicate. I want characters who are learning to wholly rely on God rather than their own strength to defend against injustice. I want them to learn and believe that God is permitting the injuries of the evil to purify His chosen ones – His children – and that He WILL deliver them in His time. I want my characters to learn Meek Doesn’t Mean Weak.
Oh my goodness! My soul yearns for this. Screams for it. This is the message my God wants me to permeate through my writing, and what a magnificent message to magnify! All the stories of danger, hurt, calamity, and pain have a purpose, just like they do in real life. It is not comfortable. It hurts. We hate it.
But by being meek – trusting that God is good and in control of any given situation – we gain our greatest strength, Christ’s strength. To outsiders that may sound strange and it is even hard for mature Christians to wrap their head around, but it is true. Complete reliance on God – being meek – is not the same as being weak.
I want that sort of reliance on God. I want my characters to grow into that sort of reliance on Him. And I want, no, yearn for you, my beloved reader, to know God’s truth as well. His love is so powerful that even the evil of this world can be used for the purpose of drawing you closer to Him.
Meekness means having a relationship that cannot be broken by the worst of what the world has to offer. It is a strength that doesn’t lose faith.
I pray for you today, that you would let the words soak in, the truth of it to settle into the very depths of every broken part to bring strength, healing, and most importantly dependence on Christ.
Did those words hit home for you, too? Did you take something completely different away from it? I would love to hear your thoughts and to pray for any needs you have. Comment below or contact me on the contact tab of my website.
Blessings, friends. I look forward to hearing from you.