Why do we do this thing called the writer’s life?
• Why do we walk around asking “What if? What if? What if?”
• Why do we listen to the voices in our head instead of
medicating them into oblivion and getting a decent night’s sleep?
• Why do we participate in an annual event dubbed NaNoWriMo and fingersprint to produce 60k words during the month of November?
• Why do we spend hundreds – no, thousands of dollars attending conferences where we sweat through our super-strength deodorant during fifteen minute appointments with editors and agents?
• Why do we check our inboxes dozens of times a day just to see if “the” agent or “the” editor has responded to our proposal? (Please say yes! Please say yes!)
I know the answer: It’s because (say it with me now) we want to be successful.
But then … we achieve success. Oh, happy day!
And thus commences a whole new round of whys.
• Why do we blog and speak at writers groups and pursue the next contract … and the next?
• Why do we torture ourselves reading reviews, tucking the positive ones under our pillows and running the um … not positive ones through our shredders?
• Why do we invest hundreds – no, thousands of dollars updating our websites and printing bookmarks and redoing our professional photos?
• Why do we tackle the social media beast – twittering and commenting and posting – when none of the words produced matter in the word count tally of our work-in-progress (WIP)?
• Why do we gauge our achievements by someone else’s? (The writer’s version of “The grass is always greener” syndrome.)
I know the answer to these questions too: It’s because (say it with me) we want to be successful.
Funny, isn’t it? Different questions but the same answers.
Here’s what I would like to suggest today: We’re answering the question wrong.
With the debut of my inspirational contemporary romance, Wish You Were Here, I could pick up the (imaginary) stamp of success and hit myself in the forehead with it. But here’s the truth: Before the ink dried, something will happen to make me feel unsuccessful. Less than. Maybe someone doesn’t like my book. (It happens.) Or maybe someone likes my writing friends’ books better. (It happens.) Or maybe I walk into the local Barnes and Nobles and my book isn’t there. (So far, that hasn’t happened.)
As I wrestled with the whole idea of success, I realized this writing journey isn’t about me achieving certain things. Yes, I would like it to be about that – earning out my advances, receiving awards, being noticed.
Hey, I’m just being honest here. Honesty isn’t always pretty.
But God isn’t in the “It’s all about you, Beth” business. Or the “It’s all about you, __________” business. (Insert your name in the blank.)
God uses all of my experiences to conform me to his image so that I can, in turn, show the world what he is like.
The world’s definition of success is all about demanding “Hey! Notice me!”
God’s definition of success is all about embracing the scriptural command to become “less than” ( Matthew 20:26) as he provides opportunities to say, “Let me introduce you to an amazing God who has changed me in a miraculous way.”
Because I am a writer, God works through my life as I walk the writing road. In his economy – Kingdom living – it’s not about my sales stats or how many stars I’ve accumulated on Amazon. Nope. It’s about how God uses all of this to scrape off my rough edges – the doubts, the jealousy – so that I look less like me and more like him. And it’s about bringing people one step closer to Jesus. I can do that through the stories I write, yes. And I can do that through my words and my actions, day in and day out, as I live the life of an author.
Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.”
Her inspirational contemporary romance novel, Wish You Were Here, debuted May 2012 (Howard Books.) Her second novel, Catch a Falling Star, releases May 2013. Beth is an established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International. Visit with Beth at her website bethvogt.com.
Today Beth is giving away a copy of Wish You Were Here to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!