by Ann H. Gabhart
At thirteen, I started writing in a journal to try to figure out life and because I loved words. Later, when I began writing for publication, my journal was where I whined and cried over discouraging lows and celebrated exhilarating highs in my writing life. Perhaps these peeks at some of my old entries will encourage you to persevere and write on.
• Jan 4, 1978 – It seems appropriate I waited till now to write here in ’78. I’ve waited so long and now I’m almost without words. It got an offer. Specifically, Warner Books wants to publish my book. My agent says she’s not entirely satisfied with the terms but wants to know how I feel. What can I say? Of course I’m satisfied. To me, it sounds like a fortune, a miracle, an answer to prayer.
• Dec 31, 1978 - I’ve written on so many New Year’s Eves since I began journal writing. Sometimes that seems such a long time ago. In other ways, only a soft twirl of days. This passing of the old year to the new is a time to mark accomplishments, to count successes and mourn over failures. This has been an exciting year full of newness. Seeing my book on the stands was a definite high.
• Jan 3, 1983 – I didn’t write on New Year’s Eve. Guess that is indicative of my mood. I hate to keep reiterating my failures, and that’s all 1983 held professionally. Rejections and even worse than that–no rejections. Only silence. So I’ll let 1982 roll past and turn loose of it. I’ll realize I’m still able to work. I still want to write even if the words seem elusive and difficult. So what if my drawer is full of rejections. It’s all part of learning and getting better. Pray God I am getting better and 1983 will hold something good in the wings for me, the writer.
• Jan 14, 1985 – A new year. New hope. I keep trying anyway. I got a nice letter from my agent saying my “lack of sales” was no reflection on my writing ability.
• Jan 2, 1987 – This time last year we were just realizing Dad was sick, and now he’s gone. I can’t review the year. Too sad. I’ll stick with work news. I did sell 3 books, a record for me.
• Jan 3, 1989 – Life brings both joy and sadness. I have been gifted with many good things… my family, my talent, the chance to do what I love. So many blessings. Perhaps I shouldn’t forget my spring of hope that sustains me when I’m discouraged. The next book. The next idea. The next editor. I have only to believe, to keep trying, to step forward with prayer.
• Jan 3, 1991 – I love it when I can think positive. I want a whole year of positive
thinking. “You can do it” stuff.
• Jan 17, 1994 – Guess I didn’t search for time to write about my year because it’s been such a sorry one in regard to writing successes – a deep valley of discouragement.
• Jan 12, 1995 – It’s a funny thing chasing after a story idea, and today, so futile I thought I’d write about it. It’s as if I’ve blanked out my mind and I’m stumbling around searching for a way out of the blankness, hoping I’ll bang into something to suggest some possibilities. But right now it’s a white-out blizzard of nothing. Another way to describe it? I’m in a huge field. Nothing but flat ground. I’m lost but not really worried. I know that one direction will lead me to something interesting – maybe a hole I can fall into. But which direction? Where’s the story?
• Jan 21, 1998 – I want to do something fresh, something to inspire me and make me proud to say I’m a writer again. Maybe I’ll be a writer again. Now I’m just going through the motions and doing a poor job of that. I need a new story. I need a story. Period, exclamation point.
• Jan 14, 2003 – Here we are starting the fourth year of the 21st Century. I haven’t worked the way I’d like. I keep dragging my feet. Letting things interfere. Falling to sleep at the wheel (or keyboard). Afraid of failing. I’m still working on Jocie’s story. (Scent of Lilacs) I like it, but will anyone else? I don’t know. But I am going to push through to the end. If I fail, I fail. But I’ve failed already if I don’t try.
• Jan 3, 2005 – Of course, the year’s writing highlight is selling my book. I’m so excited about that I shouldn’t even think a depressing thought.
• Dec 27, 2005 – Time spins away from us in great circles. One day it’s the first of the month. The next the end. A new grandbaby girl has come into the world. A beautiful perfect miracle of a child. Blessed beyond imagination.
• Jan 3, 2008 – So long ago I started writing in a journal. So many private words. Yet it continues to feed my soul. Words on paper. Thoughts and ideas. Gripes and complaints.
Praises and joys. Worries and troubles. Happiness and love. So many things to record over the years. I started my first journal when I was 13. I’m not 13 anymore. But I’m still here. Still writing. Still having joy and worries. But pray God, always more joy.
As you can tell from the entry dates, I’ve been writing for many years, but without being able to record my dreams and hopes in my journal, who knows? I might have given up during those discouraging times of no sales. My recent release, Love Comes Home, is my twenty-seventh published book, fourteen of those after the Lord gave me that new story I so needed in 1998. It was a few more years before I wrote Scent of Lilacs about a preacher and his family in the Sixties. That story landed me squarely in the inspirational market, a place I love since I can share the spiritual journeys of my characters in their stories. What are we without what we believe?
My first book was published almost forty years ago. Since then I’ve worked with different publishers, re-invented myself as a writer several times, but I felt like I had come home when Scent of Lilacs came out. (By the way Scent of Lilacs is a free download right now!)
Sometimes the Lord opens a door and then has to nudge us in some way to make us notice the opportunity. In my case, perhaps rejections were my nudge. I can’t say I’m glad for the rejections, but I am glad to be writing for the Christian market. Each new story is a gift and I feel blessed to be able to share my stories with my reading friends.
Have you ever faced discouraging times in your writing life and considered giving up? Or maybe you’re not a writer, but have faced discouragement in other areas of your life? What made you keep trying and how did you keep your hopes alive?
ANN H. GABHART, the author of several bestselling novels, has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who never wanted to do anything but write down stories. She’s published novels for both adults and young adults with more stories on the way. She keeps her keyboard warm out on a farm in Kentucky where she lives with her husband, Darrell. They have three children and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann or her books visit www.annhgabhart.com. Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com or join her on Facebook. www.facebook.com/anngabhart
Today, Ann is giving away a copy of her latest release, Love Comes Home to one commenter. Let us know you want to be considered for this special book. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.
World War II is finally over and the people of Rosey Corner are busy welcoming the boys home. The Merritt sisters in particular are looking toward the future. Kate is eager to start a family and live out her dream of happily ever after with Jay. Evangeline wants a beautiful house and encourages Mike to pastor a big-town church. Victoria wants what can never be--a life with a man who will never come back. And little Lorena is growing up and wondering more and more about her birth family.
Through the heartfelt storytelling of bestselling author Ann Gabhart, readers join these endearing characters as they walk an uncertain road. Each sister must learn to hold her plans with a loose hand, trusting that God will guide and strengthen them as they share the joys and sorrows of life in their little corner of the world.
Dear Friends of Seekerville: Our friend Ann Gabhart's momma has recently gone to heaven. The funeral is today, so we don't expect Ann. But this post is such a blessing to all of who are journeying in the publishing world-so do please leave a comment and let Ann know how much it blesses you and we'll all be saying a prayer of comfort for Ann and her family.
Tina Radcliffe for Seekerville