“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.
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 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.
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4 questions to ask while you're waiting for this #writing harvest. http://bit.ly/1Vlrqvj via @KCambronAuthor on #TheWritersAlley