Friday, February 19, 2016

What Next? – 4 Questions to Ask While Waiting for the Harvest

Hey Alley Pals. I have this super sweet friend. A friend that has stuck closer than a brother. I bet you know her name or at least her books...and if you don't, we'll we're going to fix that today. Please, welcome my dear friend and heart-sister, Kristy Cambron today with one of the most encouraging posts I've had the pleasure of reading recently!


What Next? – 4 Questions to Ask While Waiting for the Harvest

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”― Anne Bradstreet


We writers spend hours hidden away in coffee shops and bookstores, noses buried in a laptop or journal, putting our story worlds to paper. And for every word we pen, for the hours we spend toiling over each page, there’s probably the same dream burning in the back of our hearts…

The promise of a harvest.

It’s the hope that one day, all the sowing we did during the growing seasons will finally be reaped. We’ll cross into that next phase and become a published author!

I’m tucked away in a hidden corner of a coffee shop most days now because I’m under deadline for my fourth published novel. (It’s such a glorious thing to be able to type that!) But that’s not the way it’s always been. In fact, the lion’s share of my professional writing career – like, fifteen years of it – was spent writing training manuals and technical material for my corporate healthcare job.

That’s a long winter, friends.

A loooong winter to be dreaming of the harvest.

Maybe some of you are in a similar place. You’re writing every day, but you’re starting to wonder what’s taking so long.

If it sounds familiar, then this post is for you, dear writer. I promise– I’ve been there too.
I’ve received the rejections in the mail. I’ve crashed and burned in more contests than I’d dare tell you. After years of working towards the dream, I was ready to quit. But as I look back now, I see the valuable lessons I learned in the years leading up to the harvest.

Each time I felt overwhelmed with agony of the wait, I’d ask myself (4) simple questions to keep going on the journey:




1)     Am I LEARNING?
I entered a writing contest a few years ago and had a dismal showing. In fact, the outcome was so poor, that I stopped writing completely for a month after receiving the judges’ marks. I checked my heart to see if it was still in the right place – if I felt called to keep going. And though my confidence had taken a major hit, I decided to use that break to learn about the craft of writing.

I jumped into some of the mechanics the judges suggested I could improve upon. I focused that time on growth and when I felt ready, I started back at square one with a brand new manuscript. You know what happened? I felt more confident using those skills on a new story than I would have in editing the old one. And the outcome? That manuscript (my eighth, up until then) won the next contest I entered.          

2)     Am I LEANING?

Here’s where sowing into a community of writers now will be worth its weight in gold later.
You’ll find encouragement and support. You’ll share the rough patches and the blissful moments with your writer friends. You’ll pray together and shed a few tears. And through the ups and downs on your path to publication, something magical will happen: you’ll find that the blessing isn’t just in signing a contract – it’s been in the getting there all along!

I cherish the friendships I’ve made with my author friends through the years, and now with my publishing family. It’s a rich part of the harvest I hadn’t expected early on, but came to appreciate down the road.

3)     Am I HAPPY?

This is the big, bad, scary question of them all, because it has the potential to derail everything.
No, we’re not happy when we receive rejections. It’s painful to read judges’ feedback just like it’s difficult to read negative reviews once you’re published. But I continually ask myself as I’m writing: “Am I happy?” Is this time I’m spending creating stories with God adding to or taking away from my joy in Him? Because if it’s not feeding my heart, it’s time to step away. Not forever – just until He gives the go-ahead to take another step and dive back into the dream.

And finally, if those first questions are in check, I’d ask this… the last question:

4)     Am I HOME?

When I walked into my first art history classroom in college, God whispered: “You’re home.”
I knew that while I hadn’t been gifted with hands that could paint or draw, I did have a heart that would sing when it got anywhere near a story like those I saw in the art we studied. And so I began writing. Not because I was getting paid. Not because there was the promise of a harvest years down the road… I wrote because it was (and still is), home.

Where’s your home? Do you remember? Because we can learn the craft of writing and lean in to community for years on the road to publication. We can spend many happy days dreaming of a contract. But unless we’re home when we’re writing – just because there’s no other place we’d rather be–the promise of a harvest won’t fulfill us.

If you’re tucked away in the corner of a coffee shop today, stay there.

Enjoy it.

And one day, when it is your harvest time, remember that you’ve already reaped a sea of blessings on the journey just to get there.

With joy in the harvest,


Kristy

Author Bio:
Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her debut novel, THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN, was named to Library Journal Reviews and RT Reviewers' Choice Awards Best of 2014 lists, and received a 2015 INSPY Awards nomination for best debut novel. Her second novel, A SPARROW IN TEREZIN, was named to Library Journal Reviews Best of 2015 list, and received a nomination for RT Reviewers' Choice Awards Best Inspirational Book of 2015. Kristy's third historical novel, THE RINGMASTER'S WIFE, will release from HarperCollins Christian Publishing in June, 2016.

Kristy is a Speaker and Design Manager at TheGROVEstory.com, and holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read. 
 


You can connect with Kristy at:
Facebook: Kristy Cambron| Twitter: @KCambronAuthor | Instagram: kristycambron

CLICK TO TWEET:






7 comments:

Angie Dicken said...

Hey Kristy! So glad to see you on the Alley today! This is such an encouraging post. I am going on ten years and seven manuscripts without publishing yet, but the thing that keeps me going is actually the happy part! I can't believe the spiritual connection, the filling of joy I get after I write a scene...I seriously feel giddy...and it's not the coffee! Ha! And a few of my stories have actually ministered to my heart, so while I hope that God will use my stories for others, He's definitely using them for me right now. Love ya!

Meghan M. Gorecki said...

I have not read such an impacting, hope-filled and encouraging post quite like this this year. Thank you SO much for this. I cried reading this. This winter, in more than my writing journey, has been such a long one...and spring feels SO long in coming. Thank you for this. <3

Kristy Cambron said...

Dear Angie ~

While the "average" number of full-length manuscripts they say an aspiring author writes prior to publication, I had 8 completed. My 9th novel was my first published work - EVER. And I promise you that God has His thumbprint marking the books He wants in readers' hands, and when. His timing is PERFECT. So glad we're on this journey together, my friend. (That's in the LEANING part, isn't it? You're one of the blessings I've received along the way.) Much love, to you and all of my friends here!!!

Kristy Cambron said...

Dear Meghan ~

You comment and crying made me cry! LOL! You just added another friend to your ranks, lady. I'm following your blog and will be in the crowd of supporters who are cheering you on. KEEP GOING. God put this path on your heart -- and He knows what to do with it!

Hugging you across the miles,
Kristy

Elizabeth Van Tassel said...

Dear Kristy,
Thanks for your insights here, and your encouragement also. I got to meet you at ACFW and love following this blog and everyone here. I wrote in the corporate world for many years and have spent years cultivating a fantasy manuscript that my agent's just sending out now for consideration. Many classes, mentors, and critique partners later I'm in the midst of that moment and wanted to thank you here. I love this blog and encouraging home-base for all of us to build one another up whether it's craft-inspired or otherwise. It's nice to see you using your art background also. I am a gemologist and studied art for several years and love how it keeps me in a creative space to keep the "juices flowing". I once read that artistic people sense life in a different manner, and I kind of think it's true, don't you? Bless you on your journey.

Pepper Basham said...

So...um....I'm crying here.
Maybe it's partially from a week of sick kiddos and hard work, or maybe it's because your words resonated with me so deeply, it pricked my soul.
Thank you, Kristy. As usual you eloquently express beautiful tenets of the heart.
Home.
A small word with such vast meaning - and when you have felt it, you totally understand how powerful that simple word is.

Thank you for this encouragement today - and for being on The Alley with so many of your fans ;-)

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Love seeing you here, sweet friend!! And WHAT a post! Anointed words indeed. Thank you for sharing with such honesty, beauty and truth.