Tag Archive | call

Why Are You Doing This Writing Thing?

I write because I’m compelled to, but more than that, I’m called to. My prayer is that my characters will somehow encourage others in their struggle with faith and living that out in the midst of the challenges of life.

I want my characters to in some way come to manifest characteristics of Christ as we are all to be sanctified, growing, continuing to be made holy in our walk with Him.

I hadn’t really connected that to the editing work I do until a week ago.

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Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I received a submission for a novella, a romance that  was set in India. I started to read and mark up the manuscript. I do this for two reasons.

  1. If I choose to contract the story, I have a start on my editing process and
  2. If I reject it, I have tangible points of helpful criticism, that I can give to the author to help them grow in their craft.

I’m unusual in that every rejection I’ve given, thus far, I’ve received warm gratitude for. I hate writing those letters because I know what it feels like to get them myself. Apparently I do it well. Not quite the selling point on a resume though, is it?

This Indian romance was different. It was for a line of fiction that does not need to have an inspirational faith story to it. The only problem was, this one did have a faith story. It was steeped in Hindu culture and belief and it was so integral to the plot there was no way the story could be written without it.

The story moved me. The problems I found in the manuscript from an editing standpoint, were fixable. I would not have rejected the manuscript because of them although many other editors would have. I was brought to tears over the heroine’s struggle. I loved the author’s voice and the color in which she painted her homeland. I’ve never been to India and she was better than a travel brochure to create in my mind the beauty of her country.

Prism Book Group is primarily a Christian publishing house. This rejection was more than just due to mechanics–this was due to an author’s deeply held faith. The weight of this was torture. I couldn’t accept the story–but as a Christian I do not want to alienate the heart of a woman, an author, that God has placed in my path. I don’t believe this was an accident.

See, this is work we do, is more than business. It’s about the heart. About drawing people to know and love our Lord the way we do. And that goes far beyond the books we write, edit and publish.  Ultimately, it happens one-on-one. One heart at a time.

This woman’s heart didn’t know Jesus and here I was, His representative, having to reject her work because of her lack of faith in Christ and her belief in false gods. How do I do this thing?  The fact is–it was her very faith that was the foundation for my rejection!

Apparently I did it well. I quickly received an email response filled with gratitude for the things I pointed out that she could do to make her manuscript better. I was able to honestly compliment her on her writing voice. I pointed out the problem in as respectful a way as I could.  She agreed that these were items that could not be removed from the story.

She thanked me and told me she would hope to submit to me again, when she had a story without the Hindu faith woven in. I look forward to that because there is a relationship that develops between an author and editor and maybe, just maybe, God would open a door for her to know Jesus in the process.

So I am praying for her, because ultimately that is what it is all about. Seeing people come to know and love our Savior as we do.

What’s your motivation as you write or edit or do whatever you do in publishing? We’re not as isolated as we think and our words and actions, even off the page, can have eternal impact.  This past week I was reminded of that and it humbled me.

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Rejection is Part of the Game

I’m in the midst of some changes in my involvement in church ministry. It’s been hard being in leadership because being in a position like that is like putting a target on your back and letting everyone practice shooting arrows at you.  The hard part is that it is rarely that people criticize you for things failing or not going well – the attacks get personal.

I have been slandered over the years more times than I can count. The attacks are more on my personality or character and often judging my motives.

This kind of thing is hard. If you need affirmation and encouragement – this is NOT the place to find it. Sad isn’t it? The church, where we are to be “building one another up and encouraging one another as the day is drawing closer” can often be the place of our greatest pain.  Yet God has given me a deep love for the body of Christ.

I do get affirmation from close friends and leadership.  I am blessed by so many people I have served with. Still, it hurts to maligned and misunderstood.

Maybe that’s why I’m such a champion of respecting and praying for our church leaders. I know firsthand the pain of attacks and the difficulty leaders face in leading a group of volunteers who are trying to be “family” in the body of Christ.

But, I’m a writer too. Writing is also ministry. There is something different about rejection in writing. For instance,  I just got a rejection of a manuscript that had been requested in full. Ouch. It hurts whenever someone doesn’t think your work is good enough. But that’s just it – it’s my work. I can improve.  I can grow.  This editor was a blessing in the way she delivered  her rejection. She took the time to give me specific areas where there were problems with my writing and how to change them.  She encouraged me to submit again in the future. This is highly unusual in the publishing industry. She didn’t blacklist my name or say I was a crappy person too full of myself to see how awful my writing was.

Rejection is part of the game with writing and seeking publication. It just is. The more I’m on line the more I see how many of us are out there pursuing our dream, writing our stories and trying to honor God with our gifts. Sometimes I admit, I feel jealous of the success of others when they finally get that contract, that book art, that first box of books with THEIR name on the cover.

I know I could have those things if I self-published and ignore the opportunity to grow. But I want to give God my best effort. That takes work and I’ll admit that sometimes I fear I’ll never be good enough. I’m so blessed by my readers cheer me on.  They remind me of how God has already used my writing for His glory.

In writing the rejections are usually not personal.  My writer friends know I’m zany and crazy and fun. They believe in me because they know I desire to grow and I’m not so full of myself to think I’m the next hot thing since Stephen King.

So I’m going to keep writing and serving God here until He says no more or calls me home. I’ll still serve in the church but the way that happens is shifting, and I embrace that. The Scripture God keeps bringing to my mind is this:

How do you handle rejection? What is God doing in your life that is new and fresh?