One Book’s Journey: Determination

Determination, energy, and courage appear spontaneously when we care deeply about something. We take risks that are unimaginable in any other context.
Margeret J. Wheatley

I read an article about a popular Christian fiction writer who manages to publish six books a year. Did you catch that: SIX BOOKS A YEAR! Just reading that exhausted and discouraged me. Okay, maybe if I’d read more about her I would have discovered that it took her a couple of decades to nail her system. Maybe I would have discovered that because she’s so successful, her publisher provides her with a team of editors and publicists at her beck and call.

Doesn’t matter. It was a turning point for me. I had a decision to make, and no time to waste making it.

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

Galatians 6: 4-5  MSG

On one hand, I could (metaphorically) give up and die a coward’s death, wallowing in whining and complaints and jealousy…

Or, I could make up my mind that in spite of getting a late start on a new career, with no connections, and reams of unanswered questions, I could give it my best shot. Well, here we are folks, so you probably figured out what my decision was.

And that was great, but it didn’t mean all the pieces suddenly fell into place, or that it was a one and done decision.

Before I could begin to peel off the masks of excuses I’d gradually built up to not forge ahead, I had to really look at my level of determination. To be honest, Dear Reader, I have to check my determination frequently. 

To start with, I had to determine, or decide, that it was okay if I write short stories and place them into a collection, then call it a book. Even trying to come up with characters and lengthy plot makes my eyes roll.

Writing stories came initially from trying to write while being a full-time educator. They also came from the lives of those around me. I took my cue from an old movie version of “Little Women”. There’s a scene when the character of Jo is devastated because another one of her stories has been rejected. Her mentor, Professor Bhaer wisely counsels her (and me) to simply write about what she knows. That scene continues to resonate with me so much that it also helps to galvanize my determination to write what I know, what I believe.

Like Jo, I was crushed when I received a review of Behind the Halo from a writing service that was less than stellar. One of the harshest criticisms was one particular scenario from the gospel accounts of Jesus’s ministry was omitted from the manuscript. There were several stories that were not included, but this omission seemed to offend the reviewer.

Dear Reader, may I share something with you that I’ve only told my Beta Team? Trying to incorporate Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane was just too hard. I felt false and intrusive, and completely unprepared to portray it accurately. I felt unworthy…and I am. 

Again with the questioning, the tug of war. Who did I think I was to attempt to capture and relate the stories of Jesus? Now a new decision to be made: did I have the determination to sink my teeth into my faith, give up my will to the Son of God who prayed in  that garden? 

27 Anyone who comes to me must be willing to share my cross and experience it as his own, or he cannot be considered to be my disciple. 28 So don’t follow me without considering what it will cost you. For who would construct a house before first sitting down to estimate the cost to complete it?

Luke 14: 27-28  TPT

I won’t lie to you, Dear Reader, this weak flesh has been forced to repeat that conversation several times, even since Behind the Halo was published. That may sound pretty pathetic, but here’s what I’m learning. It’s having the grace of God empowering a determined spirt that doesn’t let me give up. 

But, Dear Reader, here in the real world determination and loving to write doesn’t automatically make it easy. When we choose to follow Jesus we must travel with an awareness that snares and trials, like self-doubt, will be part of the journey . Perhaps that’s part of counting the cost. Praise God His Word will strengthen and encourage us along the way as we pay the cost!

Because the Lord God helps me, I will not be dismayed; therefore, I have set my face like flint to do his will, and I know that I will triumph.

Isaiah 50:7  TLB