I went to church yesterday and heard a great sermon that spoke to writers, artists, and dreamers of all sorts. Believe it or not, it was the story of Moses. I’m not going to get into a religious debate here or relay the entire message because…well let’s be frank, (okay, you be Frank, I’ll be Dan) (because really Dan is a much better name than Frank) (oh, calm down Franks of the world I’m only joking)…where was I before I was attacked by parenthesis? Oh yeah, I’m not going to go over the whole message because it’s in the Bible and if you’re interested that’s where you should start…and grow.
Hebrews 11:27 states “By faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the Pharaoh’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.” Moses, despite being the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and having the power, prestige and treasures of Egypt at his disposal, wanted more–he wanted to follow a Godly life, believing in that which he could not see. In choosing that life he was mistreated along with the other people of God.
How might this play into the writers’ hand, you might wonder?
Plain and simple. If you’re committed to a cause (getting published), you’ll have to pay a cost. The road won’t be easy–it’s riddled with query hurdles, bottomless pit slush piles and many nights alone sitting in front of you computer screen. But if you really put your nose to the grindstone, you’ll get there. I firmly believe it.
The sermon got me thinking about my college years and the journey to my BA degree and then my MA and then my teaching credential (all before I was 27 years old). I knew I wanted to teach junior high English since I was a freshman in high school. My goal was set in stone. I was going to get there. And believe me, you haven’t seen stubborn, ironclad will until you’ve met the likes of me.
I studied my arse off in high school so I’d have good enough grades to get into college. I didn’t party as much as others. And that’s an understatement. Instead, I dedicated myself to sports and clubs that would look good for my “college resume”. I was making myself marketable, even then. I went to Humboldt State University and lived the same type of life. While others where drinking and smoking, I was studying. I spent hours and hours in the library, stayed up many nights writing papers, and didn’t make many friends. (Let me tell you though, the friends I did make are ones for life.) Don’t get me wrong…I had the time of my life. College years were the BEST. It’s just that the short term headaches were minuscule because I had my eye on the prize. The cost didn’t seem so bad because I was so committed to the goal. And I got there in a very short amount of time. (I entered my first classroom of 9th and 10th graders on my 22nd birthday. Talk about speedy.)
The same philosophy goes for writing. Put your head down, work hard, don’t lose sight of the prize. Nora Roberts has said to complete a book you just “you sit your behind in that chair and type”. Sounds easy. Anyone who has actually finished a book knows otherwise.
If you up the ante on your commitment level…if you give yourself no other option than finishing this book…if you dive into the writing world and submerge yourself in the business, the cost of toiling and fuming over mistakes, character flaws, editing, etc, etc, etc, won’t seem so steep.
There’s a great article about breaking into the publishing world here. And how else do you break into the world other than writing that dreaded query letter? The article goes over agent query insight and ways to make yours better. According to the article 80% of people say they have an idea for a book. Approximately 2% actually start it and far fewer than that actually finish. I wonder if the statistic dove deeper how many of that 80% actually reach the end goal?
The more important question is where are you in the writing process? What’s holding you back? Is the cost worth the prize in the end? Can you see the goal?
I can tell you where I am now that I’ve committed myself to being a published author–I’m in the same place I was in high school and college. I’m busting my behind working toward a writing career. The journey is long and bumpy and the learning curve is steep, but I’ll make it there eventually…hopefully sooner rather than later. I’m currently deep editing BOTH of my manuscipts; one for a small press, the other for an agent.
I honestly believe if you have FAITH (maybe a little like Moses) and persevere to the point that you’ve extinguished all doubt, you’ll make it! (Care to weigh in, Mo? Go you!)