Struggling author, I’ve read your posts about your pursuit in getting an agent and the challenges in writing career.1
First and foremost, I hope you get an agent and find a new publisher for your book. You have written an excellent dystopian series and deserves to have wider readership for it.
I know you are going through a tough situation and its easy for others on the outside looking it to tell you just have a faith and everything will take care of itself in “God’s timing.” That is a trite and overused phrase, but I have to admit that it is appropriate for your situation, but with a caveat.
Just having faith and waiting on God’s timing has become completely countercultural in our current social-media culture. We want our things yesterday and being patient is for losers to many in our current age. Also, in the writing community, we are sold the romance of becoming rich, famous, and having literary status by the one book they got the attention of the culture. This writing romance myth started in traditional publishing and now has come into the self/indie publishing world. And most writers are grinders, working day in and day out by publishing numerous (some with pen names) to make a living from their words.
So having faith and waiting on God does not fit in with this current paradigm of being a writer.
I truly understand your waiting things in your writing career to happen and happen right now. However, I have begun to realize there are things in life that will happen on its own time no matter how fast we want it. This is where faith and works come into play here. James says it so clearly in his most (and I will admit overused) well-known verses of scripture in 2:14-26:
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?
The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.2
I believe this entire section of Scripture hits on a key point. You must have faith and works. Not one or the other. And the works in this scenario is “why” are you writing? That “Why” will help you with your faith when it seems lacking or even missing while you are going through a challenging time.
I will be a transparent to expound upon what I mean. I have only made about $300 in profit for both Kammbia novels, Transformation Toward Destiny and The Descendant of Destiny. However, I spent at least 5 to 6 times more in getting those books edited, a cover design, formatted for eBooks and paperbacks, and published since 2014. And after I published the second Kammbia novel last October, I was beginning to become disillusioned with the indie publishing process.
(I’m now realizing that discoverability for a self/indie published author is the most challenging aspect of developing a career. And you are basically running a small business and have to treat it as such.)
I began to pray about disillusionment and ask the Holy Spirit if I’m doing the right thing. I truly believe the Holy Spirit nudged into discovering “why” I’m writing instead of what I’m writing.
My first “why” is that the Kammbia fictional universe has been in my mind, heart, and imagination for nearly 25 years. I will be 46 in August and that’s over half my life. I have written stories, made-up cities, created geography, and a fictional universe all of that time. It has been so beneficial to my life and giving a much needed outlet. This “why” I had to write this fictional world no matter what. Whether it becomes a success or not.
My second “why” is to communicate with my readers. I want to tell good stories and be read. I have no illusion in becoming a literary master or postmodern star or anything like that. To tell stories by learning the craft of storytelling for each book I write. I owe to myself and my readers. Also, I have never studied and practiced harder for anything in my life like I have with writing. And I want my readers to escape from their everyday lives when they are reading a Kammbia novel. If I can provide a relief for a few days of reading and they enjoy their experience, then I have done my job as a storyteller. I had to admit that to myself recently and be at peace with it because I’m a serious person by nature. But, when I looked at my favorite novels and I saw this “why” come clear to me and I had to embrace it.
My third and final “why” is to help other indie writers get their first books published. God willing, if I’m able to make a living of my Kammbia novels, I would like to create a grant to get people to write their first novel and published if they want. I’m a huge proponent of creativity and people having that outlet. And if I can help in that way, I will do it.
I felt the Holy Spirit showed me those “whys” to strengthen my faith. Now, I have to create the “works” in order to make it possible. Also, I know that it’s a possibility it will not happen. Very few writers make a living from their words. However, it becoming more of an opportunity with the advent of self/indie publishing. And knowing my “whys” have given me a piece of a mind and strengthen my faith in the process.
Lastly, I have learned that writing, in all parts of it, is an act of discovery. We have to keep evolving and growing and not get seduced and disillusioned by the writing romance myth.
Struggling author, I truly hope you have your “why” or are discovering your “why” for you. And lean on those “whys” for your faith. God bless!