Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Story Inside

Today's post is less of a how-to and more of a start-to.

It's so easy, over time, to let a whole host of things cloud our vision for our writing. We start off as dreamers. We often turn into realists. Or perhaps even cynics.

We have high hopes for a proposal, then bristle from rejection. We practice our pitches in our sleep, then fumble through them at a conference. We work hard at learning the craft, but sometimes it never quite feels good enough.

And so, little by little, we start to pull back from the God-dream in our hearts. We don't do it on purpose, necessarily, and maybe we don't even see it happening-- but we begin to guard ourselves.

The thing is, that story in your heart is one only you can tell.

I've been a Switchfoot fan since I was a kid in middle school, so when I saw that Jon Foreman recently did a TED Talk, I got really excited. I don't normally watch these things, but let me tell you, this video is worth every minute of your time. In it, he spends a lot of time talking about the song in all of us, and how, as artists, we are called to share that song with the world.

One of Switchfoot's most popular lyrics is, "There's a song that's inside of my soul. It's the one that I've tried to write over and over again."

And so today, let me personalize that for us as writers: "There's a story that's inside of my soul. It's the one that I've tried to write over and over again."

Can you relate?

Today I want to encourage you that God has given you a unique context--both for your world as well as for your story's world. Some contexts may seem limited, and some may seem limitless. But no context is more significant than another if it's God-given.

You are the only person who can tell the story God has given you, in the way the story ought to be told, to the audience that ought to hear it.

If you don't tell your story-- if you don't live your story-- there's a hole where your ministry ought to be. There are readers who will never know your message. There's a missing beauty, all your own, that the world will never know.

So I know it's hard. Believe me. Whether you're discouraged from rejections, or you're exhausted because your baby isn't sleeping (ahem), or every time you sit down to write, you hear a slew of voices in your head telling you all the reasons this story is destined to fail... you have to push through.

The world needs you to push through. Your readers need you to push through-- even if you aren't published yet.

Don't let yourself become so distracted by the clamoring all about you that you forget your song.

Here's the TED Talk if you want to watch!


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.


Angela said...

Thanks, I needed that today.

Marian Elizabeth said...

Ahh I used to listen to Switchfoot all the time. Will have to watch this video when I get home from work. :)

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Such good words, Ashley. I recently faced a discouragement with writing, and it's taking time to move beyond it. But truth is, God gave ME this story. I need to seek Him and His direction for it, not give up. Thanks for your words.

And I hope you're getting some sleep at night. ;)

Ashley Clark said...

Angela, glad you came by today!

Ashley Clark said...

Marian, I know you'll love it!

Ashley Clark said...

Jeanne, you should be encouraged because I know God has big plans for your stories! <3

Patrick Quin Kermott said...

Well said. I remember seeing Switchfoot on New Year's Eve in 1999 or 2000 and listening to Jon sing "Only Hope" through a hoarse throat from a cold he had been fighting off. He then explained what it meant and went on to play the song that he had been struggling to write. It was certainly inspiring.