Thursday, January 15, 2015

Facing Discouragement about God's Calling

Today I decided to pull a post from the archives because I felt a nudge about how this applies to the new year. Are you facing discouragement today? Do you see 2015 as another year you're entering with a heavy heart and not-yet-realized dreams? Then I hope today's post encourages you! Be of good cheer-- God has not lost sight of you or your dreams.


"He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:24 

Hi, writer friends! Today I want to talk about something that-- after five years of being a part of this writing journey-- is close to my heart. And that is... disappointment. I see so many friends go through the ups and downs of hope and disappointment, and believe me, I've been there myself. Maybe that's how you're feeling today. Perhaps you didn't get the feedback you were hoping to receive from a contest, or an editor you really respect recently rejected your manuscript.

Image by  Evgeni Dinev from
I'd venture to say that every. single. writer. experiences disappointment in this journey. For some, the disappointment cuts so deeply, they feel like giving up. Others actually do give up-- they walk away when their hearts just can't seem to take anymore rejection. The mountains just seem so high.

Let's get real for a minute. Writing is not for the weak of heart. It requires diligent adherence to deep vision, and dismissal of all those outside voices vying for your attention. You know the ones. Over time, they just seem to get louder, don't they? Have you ever caught yourself letting these sentiments echo in your heart?

  • An editor isn't going to like that.
  • Your hook isn't strong enough.
  • Why are you doing this, anyway? It's not like you have any actual readers.
  • Your characterization falls flat.
  • Your dialogue is stilted.
  • A scene describing a pencil would be less boring.
  • Wait a second-- did you just rehash the exact plot from While You Were Sleeping?
As writers, we have this crazy hard job of simultaneously putting 100% of our hearts into our stories-- weaving the fabric of our being into the fabric of our characters' struggles-- and protecting our hearts from criticism and rejection. Have you ever noticed that some people are better at one than the other? When I first graduated with my M.A., I was excellent at receiving criticism. Believe me, I was well used to professors criticizing my rough-draft essays-- it was just part of the process for everyone. But you know what? As I've gotten farther along on this writing journey, criticism has actually gotten harder-- in a way-- to receive, because I find myself investing more and more emotion into each story. And that's okay.

Some people think, "If I could only get published, everything would be easier." And while, yes, I personally think having real-life readers (as opposed to merely imaginary ones) does make things easier, at the same time, publication brings its own set of rejection and disappointment. Maybe your sales numbers aren't what you want, or you're having agent troubles, or you got a round of really harsh reviews on your story.

The writing world goes a little something like this: rejection. rejection. rejection. rejection. rejection. rejection. rejection. hope. rejection. rejection. a sale!!! rejection. rejection. rejection. rejection. a sale!!!

And repeat. 

Image by vorakorn,from
But here's the thing. If we aren't careful, we can allow ourselves to become crushed in this process. It's like we've been in an emotional battle of sorts, and we come out wounded and scarred along the way from overly-harsh criticism and dreams that seem to have crashed and burned. 

That's where 1 Thessalonians 5:24 comes in. "He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it."

And with that in mind, I want to issue a challenge to you today.

God. is. faithful.

Do you believe it? 

Do you really believe God is faithful? And if so, that leads to my second question. Do you believe God has called you?

Because if you do, then you have a responsibility to protect and to chase your dreams. Through all the pain, and all the disappointment, and all the rejection, the One who has called you is stronger. He has a much bigger plan through it all, and He has not led you down this pathway only to desert you. If you feel like giving up, hold on-- cling to Him as you never have before, and you may find unexpected growth and opportunity when you least expect it.

God has a purpose for your stories. That purpose is greater and bigger than anything you can imagine. He's promised that. So don't give up on Him. There is a reward for those who are faithful to the calling. Imagine if your favorite novelist had thrown in the towel just before publication. How would your own life be different? Your writing journey? What if God wants you to be that author for someone else? Maybe even for the next generation?

And don't forget that God's promises are sometimes different from our own. Maybe God never intended for you to be a NYT bestseller, but He does want your story to forever change the life of the elderly widow down your street. Be open to where His plan leads, because the ultimate fulfillment is in following Him, and learning to see writing as a form of worship.

So, what do you think? Do you ever find yourself discouraged by the ups and downs of writing? What promises do you hold on to to keep you going?


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


kaybee said...

That is why I blog, with you guys and on other sites. It is heartening to hear that experienced and even multi-published authors have down times -- their publisher doesn't like a concept so they go indie, their editor or agent retires, the line they write for goes under. That's the big part of blogging for me, learning that more experienced writers have been where I am, and on occasion end up back there. I started keeping an encouragement file last year with snippets of good feedback plus the ONE contest I finaled in. But of course the greatest Encourager is God, which is why we do this.
Kathy Bailey
Encouraged in NH

Dorothy Stewart said...

Thank you! This one was definitely for me!

Angela said...

Thanks for the words of inspiration.

Ashley Clark said...

Kathy, the encouragement file is such a great idea! And I can assure you that ALL authors get discouraged-- I think it's an almost inevitable part of the journey. In fact, I think authors with best selling books sometimes even have more to lose, so to speak, because they have all these readers evaluating them. Thank you for coming today! Happy writing!

Ashley Clark said...

So glad to hear that, Dorothy! Thanks for stopping by!

Ashley Clark said...

Angela, I hope they encouraged you! Thanks for coming today!