Today marks the beginning of Lent, a special time for Christians to draw closer to God. When we deny ourselves through fasting, when we turn our hearts more fully to the Lord through prayer, and when we put the needs of our brothers and sisters before our own wants through almsgiving, we are able to more fully enter into the Paschal Mystery. As many of us can attest, a well-lived Lent leads to a joyous Easter.
But how, you might ask, does Lent tie in with writing? The keyword is sacrifice.
Years ago, I heard an established author lament that she had missed her son’s youth because she had been so busy pursuing her writing career. As much as I wanted to publish, I didn’t want to be that woman. God and family came first. Then writing. Perhaps that’s why my road to publication stretched over so many years.
Don’t get me wrong. I admire women—and men—who do it all and do it well, the family, the day job, care of the home, as well as the writing. For me, something always suffered, and I didn’t want it to be my husband or my three children.
That being said, I do feel strongly that many folks, especially women, don’t take enough time for their own needs. I did write, but like many of you, my efforts were often piecemeal, fit in between carpooling, cheering the kids on at sporting events, or helping with homework.
We all know that publication requires determination, persistence, and hard work. While a few might achieve success early on, most of us have to pay our dues. I wrote six manuscripts with multiple revisions before my seventh story sold to Love Inspired. As I mentioned, I squeezed writing time in after my family commitments were met. For four and a half years, I even cared for an elderly and infirmed aunt who had no other family to support her. Soon after my aunt passed away and my youngest child went to college, I joined a committed critique group that met weekly. I cut back on other activities and focused primarily on my writing. The time was right. My children were grown, and I didn’t have any other significant responsibilities that vied for my attention. Within a year, I had a completed manuscript that sold some months later.
For most of us, our days are filled to overflowing with work, whether at home or at the office, with family commitments and with the ever constant, day-in and day-out household needs that require attention. No matter where we are on the journey to publication or beyond, writing takes time away from those daily demands.
Often we must make choices. Will I rise early or stay up late to get my pages written? Will I give up my free Saturday after a long week at the office to brainstorm a new story? Will I say no to family activities or social events to ready my contest entry for submission? Each decision requires sacrifice.
Regrettably, some people are unwilling to spend the time and energy required to achieve publication. Three friends come to mind. The first, I’ll call her Sally, was an avid romance reader who understood how to construct a compelling story. After a few years of honing her craft, she sold to Precious Gems, a romance line marketed exclusively through Walmart. Because Precious Gem authors were paid a lump sum with no royalties, Romance Writers of America did not consider them an RWA-approved publisher when it came to RITA entries and membership in the Published Author Network (PAN). As you can imagine, a brouhaha within the organization ensued. My friend withdrew her membership in RWA and stopped writing. Was it anger? Was it pride? Was it a realization that, even after publication, the writing journey would take more effort—more sacrifice—than she was willing to give? Whatever the reason, she walked away from the very thing she had worked so hard to achieve.
Another friend, I’ll call him Tom, was a retired pilot who wrote beautiful, albeit lengthy, prose. He snagged an agent but was unwilling to cut his manuscript into a shorter read. Tom walked away too.
A third friend, Claire, was a successful magazine freelance writer who wanted to break into the fiction market. Her stories always drew me in, but after a few years, she tired of the rejections. Perhaps Claire viewed them as a personal affront. Maybe deep down she couldn’t accept the criticism of her work that was never good enough, in her mind, for an editor to buy.
Sally, Tom and Claire were talented writers who were each close to publication, yet they were unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve their dreams.
I’ve never regretted the choices I made in my writing journey. They were right for me, and my long road to publication made the first sale that much sweeter. I am forever grateful to be able to see my work in print and have never taken my career for granted, especially when so many, far more accomplished writers are still unpublished. I’m living my dream. Yes, there are sacrifices to be made, but the rewards far outshine anything that might be seen as negative. Truly I am blessed.
What sacrifices are you willing to make for your writing career? Have you prioritized your life? Where does writing fit?
Along with the food for thought in this blog, I’ve included a light Lenten breakfast of fresh baked bread, warm from the oven and slathered with butter and jelly. The coffee is brewed; the tea is hot. Grab a cup and let’s discuss sacrifice and the rewards that come when we achieve our writing goals. Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for my March Love Inspired Suspense, STRANDED.
Wishing you abundant blessings,
My March Love Inspired Suspense:
BY DEBBY GIUSTI
AMISH COUNTRY REFUGE
Colleen Brennan has one goal—take down her sister’s killer. But chasing after evidence leaves her in the path of a tornado and stranded in an Amish community. With the killer nearby, Colleen must depend on the kindness of Special Agent Frank Gallagher. Although the army officer is recuperating from a battlefield injury, he wants to help the beautiful woman he rescued from the tornado’s fury. He can tell she’s hiding something important. But getting her to reveal her secrets may be his most dangerous mission ever.
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