We are looking for stellar writing with a stellar story and stellar characters.
That’s probably never going to be you. Even if you contest, study craft, and type away at 1K1HR while querying your heart out. If you’ve already sold a few books you know if your publisher gets consolidated you’ll be the first they look at when they have to start pulling scheduled releases. Seriously, how much time and money have you wasted already that should have been spent on your family, friends, or a—wait for it—real job? You are not Francine Rivers or Max Lucado. You never will be. Stop posing and find a new hobby because you’re never going to get published and no one who doesn't already send you a Christmas card will ever buy your books. If you’ve got a few out there, accept that you had a decent run of it and have a nice dinner out on the backlist royalties once in a while.
Are you preparing to fire away at me in the comments for crushing a fledgling or weary author’s hopes and dreams?
So why is it okay for you to tell yourself those same things? Mmm-hmmm. Take a few moments and absorb the punch in the gut by your own hypocrisy. And when you’re finished, go back and latch onto all that spirited defense of the creative and passionate pursuit of dreams and let’s plow forward together.
Part two of this post is actually way more risky for me to write, if you can believe that. I’m a very social but very private individual, and if God had not strongly nudged me to incorporate my personal struggle to stay the course in life as well as writing, I would not have. Not at all. But because I love God and want to honor him with obedience, I’m going to share my personal battle against depression and suicide.
I’ve chosen to be transparent about this with my Seekerville family because for many, the very idea of taking your life because of unceasing and overwhelming emotional pain and hopelessness is unfathomable. For that I am truly grateful and pray that is always true for you, always. But for some of us, like me, those times come. Often in the beginning we don’t know what to do or where to turn for help. If we’re believers we’re afraid our faith is weak or broken and that we’re going to scare our family and friends if we try to be honest and talk about it. Most of all, we’re scared things are never going to get better.
If you relate to any of that, know that I understand--like only someone who has crawled through and been carried through by Jesus can understand. You are not alone. You are not a failure in your faith or your life. What you do have is a choice—to stay the course or give up. Call it ironic or call it anointed, but my proven strategy for overcoming suicide is also proven to combat giving up on your writing. It’s proven because I’m still breathing, LOL (It’s totally okay to laugh here), and because I’m still writing.
Strategy #1: Get among your people.
Those trusted friends who will encourage you, listen, give you hugs and chocolate, or tell you to stop crying and get on with it. You already know who they are, and if you don’t, keep hanging out here in Seekerville and you’ll make some. Fight the urge to remain silent and withdraw. Often having the courage to say, out loud as it were, “I’m so done with this,” is half the battle because it brings it into the light.
I’m blessed to have grown self-aware enough I now recognize at what point I need to get among my people. I’m able to be honest with them, and they know the best thing they can do for me is pray, listen, and just be there for me, whether it’s an encouraging text, a card in the mail, or surprising me with ice cream and flowers. They help distract me, minister to me, and most of all encourage me. A lot like the week after being announced as a Genesis finalist again this year when I was ready to chuck this whole stupid writing gig. The Seekers, my Seekerville peeps, and crit partners encouraged me through it and it’s a blessing they did because I got good news about one of my manuscripts shorty after that.
Strategy #2: Remember the dead giant behind you.
Cliff Graham, speaker and author of The Lion of War Series, says this: Don’t fear the enemy in front of you. Remember the dead giant behind you. Referencing David and Goliath and David facing the Philistine army yet again, Graham admonishes us to not fear the terror before us, but instead, remember the victory granted by God when David had the courage to act in faith. It is a call to action.
Go back and find your slain giant. Perhaps it was the first time you completed a manuscript or started your first one. Perhaps it was “The Call” or a letter from a reader sharing how their life was touched by your writing. For me it is returning to my own work, reading it, and being blown away in some passages by how much depth of emotion the work still brings me.
Every single one of my manuscripts is homage to my true hero, Jesus Christ. For without Him and the strength and hope found only in Him, I wouldn’t still be here to write them. Because in those moments of absolute, soul-crushing despair when taking my life seems the only solution to bring an end to the pain, I can remember I’ve been there before. By focusing on the fact that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, I can remember that by standing fast against it however I must, I can and will defeat it again. Even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time. That’s when I look back and remember those slain giants behind me, and those remembered victories help anchor me in the storm with the knowledge that if I continue to persevere, the storm will eventually pass. In writing and in life.
Strategy #3: Feast on God
In 2009 when my struggle with depression and suicide began, I read through my Bible cover to cover twice that year. This was not mere quiet time or daily scripture reading. This was devouring truth to be able to keep breathing. Over the past years that same feasting on God has grown to include turning the lights down and putting on praise, worship and prayer songs while I commune with the Lord and shut out everything else. Everything I have to do, all the expectations and demands on my time and efforts, and just abide. Be still. Sometimes I write to those songs too and it’s wonderful.
When I absolutely just can’t write, can’t edit, can’t remember the vision for my writing career no matter how many people stroke my ego and how many times I stare at my plaques and certificates commemorating those Contest Diva finishes, I set it all aside to feast on God. I praise, I rest, I read, and I take long walks with my dog or go fishing or visit a museum. Without fail, in God’s time and when I’m ready to receive it, the passion for my writing comes back. Then I’m able to give God glory, thank my friends and fans, grab the laptop, and get on with it.
My prayer for all of us is to stay the course and never give up. To fearlessly embrace every new day as an opportunity for spectacular successes and epic failures. To wring the goodness from every moment and endure when life is wringing us out. To give the struggling friend hugs and chocolate or crack the whip at them when we need to. That we’re honest with ourselves and each other when holding on is hard, and that it is okay to do so. Because the best stories aren’t the ones we will put on the page. It’s the one we’re living every day, even the days it doesn’t feel like it. So stay strong my friends, and write on. Write on.
Award-winning author, avid reader and shameless hero addict, Nancy Kimball makes her home in Houston, Texas. She doesn't understand the point of white crayons and enjoys writing a great hero as much as reading one. Nancy began writing in pursuit of traditional publication in 2010, is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and President of her local chapter, Writers on the Storm in The Woodlands, Texas. In 2012, her best friend bestowed her with the nickname "Phoenix" after hearing Nancy’s story. Nancy loved it and adopted the Phoenix symbol to embody her life verse, Ezekiel 36:33-36. Learn more at her official website or connect with her and other hero-lovers at her popular blog Fiction Hero Features and her Facebook Page.
Today, Nancy is giving away a $25.00 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to one commenter who shares there heart about staying the course in life and writing!