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?