because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly." -Teddy Roosevelt speech, 1910, "Citizenship in a Republic
Who has not known the bitter taste of failure sliding down the throat? Those who have been invested in the writing life for any significant amount of time are acquainted with the sting.
Contest losses, perhaps year after countless year.
In On Writing, perennial #1 NY Times bestseller Stephen King discusses his nail of shame. As he began submitting his work to magazines at age 16, rejection after rejection letter was pounded into the wall.
But through the process, King learned to "dare greatly" a phrase made newly popular by TED Talk speaker and social worker Brene Brown in her aptly titled recent tome, Daring Greatly.
King not only dared greatly in facing rejection but also in his work. King's breakthrough bestseller (though it was his third published novel) was The Shining, a book in which Stephen was shocked to recognize himself on the page. Jack Torrance is a brash troubled working class man who succumbs to alcoholism and depths of darkness as he spends the winter trapped with his family in an isolated hotel during an avalanche. King recognized his own struggles in Torrance's working class background, battle to overcome it, and brashness. Like Jack, King was also an alcoholic and writing The Shining opened his eyes to some of the perils the addiction had wrought in his own life.
Perhaps if King had not been bold enough to put his heart on the page it may have "held" back his writing career. I do find it fascinating though that his breakthrough novel was written in a place of vulnerability in his own life.
As writers we are designed to share ourselves on the page. Truth-telling and ministry cannot be separated from each other for God is the God of Truth. Even more so than writers in the world, we must be authentic and dare to bleed on the page.
Ephesians 4:25 says: Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
In the early years of Christian fiction, readers decried the "perfection" of characters after their salvation. Years later, there is much growth in the area of realism.
We are being sanctified, called to be holy as He is holy. (1 Peter 1:2, 1 Corinthians 1:11). Set apart. Different from the world.
Yet at the same time although we are to walk in freedom we all are in process. Your reader may deal with pornography or cigarette addiction. Perhaps, you don't. But we can all relate to that struggle on some level. Maybe like me you can't buy Oreos because you struggle with the temptation to turn to them after a rough day instead of spending the time in prayer. Remembering you are a person in process and so is your reader can help you to be more authentic on the page.
Being real about our struggles, temptations and spiritual growth and transformation are all part of ministering to others. Think about those who spur you on in your Christian life. If you are like me, they are people who are humble enough to admit their failures and setbacks, yet are engaged in the fight of the Christian life continuing to pursue holiness.
God has placed several older women in my lives at various points in Titus 2 mentoring type roles. Those who blessed me the most were those who didn't only want to teach me using their words but were willing to be vulnerable enough to share mistakes. They weren't perfect, so I felt free to share my questions and doubts.
God places others in our path, other writers, readers of our blogs, those who engage in our storyworlds and desires our lives and work to bless them.
What does daring greatly mean when it comes to our books?
It means putting our wholehearted self on the page. It doesn't mean you and your characters have the same struggles, but recognizing that all our temptations are common to man (1 Corinthians 10:13).
...not letting rejection hold us back from entering that contest for the twelfth time
...not stripping away the layers that make your characters more real, because they hit too close to home.
...realizing that your ministry and vulnerability levels are in direct relation.
...not attaching your self-worth to rejection or acceptance in the publishing world but recognizing your identity in Christ.
...daring to write the books of your heart, even if its not the type of book you think fits in the industry.
...knowing your value so that you can persevere in the writing life the way God intends.
I highly recommend any of Brene's books. I am learning and growing through her fantastic course on Daring Greatly.
**Is rejection, failure or another fear holding you back in your writing life? If you're willing to share here, I would love to enter you to win a copy of DARING GREATLY by Brene Brown, one of my favorite reads of this year and a book that has been life-changing for many.**
Wonderfully Woven. A wife, homeschool mom, and children's ministry leader, Julia resides in central Virginia.