Yesterday a missionary visited our church. I haven’t been able to shake his message for a number of reasons, and many of those are related to how he touched my heart in relation to my personal faith in Jesus, but bear with me because I am going to relate this to writing, too.
I’ve heard missionaries speak before, but what made this one stand out was that he was an amazing storyteller. One of the lessons we’re always taught as writers is to make readers care. Well, he made us care right off the bat by connecting his story to dimes collected by the children in our Vacation Bible School. These dimes went to purchase Swahili Bibles that a pastor was taking to villagers in a very dangerous area of Kenya where Christians are being gunned down for their faith. The pastor witnessed to a man who shared with a fourteen-year-old girl who became a Christian. This girl’s family was going to kill her, but instead, because she refused to give up her faith, they eventually came to faith, and then the whole village came to faith. And then–here’s what really got me–the people in this village all surrendered their automatic weapons and stopped a cycle of violence. And this tied back to our children’s dimes. It wasn’t only because of their dimes, but they played a part.
The results of the story were amazing, but I still kept analyzing it later to figure out why it stuck with me so well. Yes, he was a great speaker. He used humor and anecdotes and was generally engaging. Yes, there was the personal faith connection and the punch to my own heart–what more should I be doing? But there was also his overriding message: your faith must be stronger than your fear.
Wow. So, while it’s no secret that I’m a Christian–it’s right there in my bio–that’s not really the purpose of my blog (although you’re always welcome to ask me questions if you’d like). But as I continued to think about this missionary’s message this morning, I thought that it’s true about the journey to publication, too.
Your faith must be stronger than your fear.
Because fear is a huge part of this journey. Fear that your writing’s not up to par. Fear that your manuscript’s not ready. Fear that your query needs to be tweaked a bit more. Fear that you won’t make it into that contest. Fear that you’ll get into a contest but won’t get any bites. Fear that every agent you submit to will say no. Fear that every editor you submit to will say no.
At some point, your faith must be stronger than your fear. You must have enough faith in your work to put it out there. And once you do, you have to keep the faith. I’m not saying that if you get feedback from multiple sources that lines up that you shouldn’t heed it and revise. I’m just saying not to let fear overtake you and give up. Have faith in what you’ve accomplished.
People ask me all the time how I keep trying in the face of rejection. While I don’t document the journey of a particular manuscript while it’s out in the world, anyone who follows my blog knows I’ve been querying more than three years at this point. I have my down moments like anyone else. Just ask my husband :). But in general I get back to a good place because I have faith that writing is what I’m supposed to be doing and that eventually it will pay off. Will it pay off with the manuscript I currently have out there? I hope so. (I mean, really, really hope so!) But if not, I’m working on the next project. And I’m really excited about it, too. Did I mention hope goes along nicely with faith?
Great post! It really does boil down to how much you believe in your project. God knows the purpose of our writing and who it is for. Thank you for sharing this post. I’m going to repost this on my blog.
Thank you so much, Lynette! I’m glad you enjoyed my post, and I appreciate the encouragement.
Reblogged this on Memoir Notes.
I have all the faith in you and your writing!
Thanks, Kip. Right back at you!
Keep writing. Keep doing what you were meant to do!
Thank you, Joan!
Thanks. Needed to hear this today! 🙂 Keep using your gifts!
I’m so glad it resonated with you!
What an amazing story about the Bibles and Kenya and a whole village converted and laying down their weapons of war. Thank you for sharing that. It gives us all hope in this crazy world. And yes, faith and hope – two pillars of a writing life. 🙂
This was just one of several stories he shared. They are really making an impact there, and this one 14-year-old girl in particular has gone on to do amazing things. As someone who writes for that age, it was a great reminder of what a teenager can do.
I love reading your work. Someday and hopefully SOON just the right agent is going to click with you too!
Thanks, Mom :).
Yes. All you need is just a little bit of faith the size of a mustard seed. Love how you noted that faith has to be stronger than fear not just for religion but in other aspects of life. I am learning this and hopefully like you say it will pay off.
It will pay off–maybe not right away and maybe not in the way you expect, but those seeds take root and grow. Keep the faith!
Thanks for this inspiration
The task is most certainly to keep the faith and run the distance. Reward in keeping with the cosmic plan will invariably follow…best wishes… Raj.
Thanks for the encouragement and for stopping by, Raj!
Hi Michelle, I just skipped over from Krista’s blog. That’s a moving story – I teach catechism and sometimes after a particularly rowdy class I wonder why. When you’re busy throwing stones into the pond you don’t often get to see the rings spreading out. Reading that story was my brief moment to feel the ripple effect. And yes, wouldn’t it be great to write about 14-year-olds having this kind of effect on people….but would publishers agree?
Hi Elizabeth! I’m glad the story gave you a glimpse of how those ripples play out. To answer your question, yes, I do think publishers would agree. It would just be a matter of *which* publishers you approached. If you were writing specifically about a 14-year-old’s faith journey and how he/she impacted others in a way similar to this girl, that would be aimed at a Christian market. Faith can play a part in a mainstream book, but if it becomes the main focus to the point of evangelism, it switches over to where you’d have to target Christian publishers. And that’s ok. It all depends on how the book is written and what you hoped to accomplish with it.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting!