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The Long Haul

Yesterday we discussed the difficulty of waiting. We writers seem to spend an abnormal amount of time waiting for all kind of things from contest results to returned emails.

Lady Glamis did a follow up post to mine yesterday with some beautiful thoughts about the writing journey and the waiting process. Her perspective is very refreshing. I'd encourage you to read it if you haven't already.

Ultimately we're all waiting for the same thing: publication. And even after publication, from what I've heard, we'll still have a lot of waiting, just a different kind!

I'm always fascinated to hear stories about the length some writers have to wait from when they seriously start writing until they finally get published. Here are a few examples of Christian authors taken from the book Behind the Stories by Diane Eble.

  • Jan Karon of At Home in Mitford series: She quit her day job, bought a cabin in the mountains and began to write. She sacrificed much to follow her dream and even lived without a car for an entire year. She says it was a time of testing, molding, shaping, and suffering. After finally getting an agent to look at the first book of the Mitford series, the agent sat on it for a year and a half. It was rejected again and again. But she continued to believe there was as at least a small audience for the book. "The road to publication and fame was uphill all the way."
  • Gilbert Morris author of more than 165 historical novels: His first novel was rejected twenty-six times. He says that prayer is the key in knowing if all the rejections are God's red light or if they are the normal obstacles anyone faces when trying something new. He said he didn't sense God telling him to stop, so he persevered.
  • Robin Jones Gunn of the YA Christy Miller and Siera Jensen series: The teenage girls of her youth group encouraged her to write Christian novels for them. She labored for two years over her first book, reading chapters to the youth group girls and getting their feedback. When she finished, she tried to sell it, but ten publishers turned it down. She was almost ready to give up but then realized it was a calling; God wanted her to write to be a missionary to teenagers. So she kept persevering and eventually Focus on the Family published her series.

Do these kinds of stories make the waiting easier and encourage you to keep writing? Or do they discourage you and act as another reminder that the wait could be longer than you'd initially thought?

I feel a bit of both. I don't like to think that it could take years and 25 plus rejections before I get published. But I'm also encouraged to hear that all the waiting could one day pay off.

"We can do anything we want as long as we stick to it long enough." Helen Keller

33 comments:

  1. I'm encouraged by those stories! I think it's just part of the publishing world. A rite of passage - I guess. I think it's true though - to be in continual prayer in order to know if God is putting the kibosh on our plans, or if it's just part of the game.

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  2. These stories encourage me! Especially the last one cause think about what we are to each other as we try to write-- we all learn- make friends and encourage along the way!

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  3. I LOVE to hear stories like that!

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  4. Hi Katie,
    I love the idea of praying and knowing God's leading. But that means we really need to be sensitive to his Spirit! That takes time with him, something I sacrifice when I get busy! I hate that I do that!

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  5. Hi Terri,
    I definitely need other writing friends to encourage me! Thanks for being one!

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  6. Hi Jennifer,
    I always hold out hope with these stories, that maybe I can beat the odds just a little bit!! But if not, at least I'm normal, right?

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  7. Perseverence! The majority of us will learn that very well in our writing journey. For me, it's just part of the package, plain and simple.

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  8. Hi Eileen,
    Perseverance is definitely something God is teaching me too!

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  9. Hi Jody,

    Last year I found the website www.writeattitude.net. The first time I read through a few authors' journeys, I cried. It depressed me to think it might take years to get published.

    I'm in a different frame of mind now. I find it incredibly inspiring to know that I'm not alone, that many people have to wait to reach their dreams.

    I also did a bit of soul searching and realized I'm doing exactly what I want to do right now. Published or not, I'm living the dream. How lucky is that? Many people don't even know what their dream is.

    Thanks for another fabulous post!

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  10. How thrilling to see Jan Karon's story! She is one of my most favorite authors, and all the Mitford books sit behind me.

    Her faith and journey are encouraging.

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  11. Hi Jill,
    Thank you for sharing! You are so right. We are living the dream of getting to write! I need to remember that and learn to enjoy each step of this journey. And we can take comfort from each other, knowing we're in the long haul together!

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  12. Hi Janna,
    Her whole story is really amazing. I only put a snippet in the post, but to read about how hard she worked, is truly inspiring! She is very successful now, but she definitely had to work hard to get there!

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  13. Eh, I've been trying since I was 10. What's another 15 years? Seriously, I don't expect to get published really soon. I know it's a long hard road, and I know I'll get lots of rejections, especially with the amount of people writing these days.

    I like to have the vision that the path is the worthwhile part, and that publishing really is a goal that might best be reached after we have grown and suffered for it. And I know I'll suffer. I know I'll get rejected. I know I'll probably be in my forties or fifties before it happens. In the meantime, write away! And enjoy it!

    Lovely post! I LOVE your thoughts, and thank you so much for giving us those examples. They certainly make me hope. If I only have to get 26 rejections, I'd be a happy girl! That doesn't sound like a lot compared to hundreds.

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  14. They definitely encourage me! It just shows me that you must work hard and have perseverence in this business. It will mold and shape you!

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  15. Hi Lady Glamis,
    I love your thoughts too! You're such an analytical, deep thinker, and you always seem to spark deeper thoughts in others (including me!).

    I've been realizing lately the whole entertainment industry is just saturated with people striving to "get there." Isn't that part of the reason American Idol is so popular? Whether in writing, music, movies, or art, there are so many people competing against each other.

    With so many more authors, musicians, and movie stars than ever before, that means the bar is raised all that much higher for those of us trying to break in!

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  16. Hi Melissa,
    I just love the thought that we can eventually get published if we stick to it and let the process grow us!

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  17. Those stories are very encouraging. It's a tough buisness. Yes's take time. Just got to tough it out through the wait.

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  18. Hi Quixotic,
    Thanks for stopping by! I think the business has gotten tougher for writers over the years. I'm not sure, but it certainly feels that way!

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  19. great stories! thanks for sharing.

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  20. Hi Jeannie,
    Your welcome! Have a great day!

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  21. Like you I find these stories to be both encouraging and discouraging. The thought of having to endure more rejection sucks, but that it might all be worth it in the end is what keeps me going!

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  22. Hi Kate,
    Enduring the rejection is really hard, but thankfully have stories like this to encourage us!

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  23. Oh, Jody, thank you so much for this today, it is just what i needed!
    These stories encourage me! It keeps me humble. If these people can persevere for years and years, I can, too, for the same spirit of Jesus is in me that is in them!
    I heard that Frank Peretti was turned down by fourteen or twenty four or something like that. Don't you know the ones who said 'no' are kicking themselves now?

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  24. And please don't judge my writing by the syntax, grammer and flow-- or lack of it-- in the above comment. I am on a break at work, and kind of scattered!

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  25. Hi Jeanette,
    I'm so glad the stories could encourage you! What a neat way to think about it: the same Spirit that was at work in them is at work in us too!

    And I definitely don't ever judge anyone by their blog comments. We're all rushed! I can't tell you how many mistakes I've made!

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  26. I definitely don't have any aspirations of a quick sale. I assume this is a long journey with ups and downs. It is encouraging to see other well-known authors have had to wait. The persistent, steadfast one wins in the long run. Thanks for a lovely blog!

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  27. Howdy there, Sherrinda!
    How was your day at work? Did you get some time with the Lord this morning?! Hope you're surviving the week a little more sanely! Keep up the good work!

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  28. Hi Jody! I clicked over from Janna's blog to say hello. I find the waiting is easier if I have another writing project going on to keep me busy and to expand my own limits as well. Regarding the domain name, I'd been advised awhile back to choose what website name you think you'd use, your own name or book name, and definitely reserve that domain name. You can reserve it for different lengths of time at a relatively low cost. That way when you're ready to start your web site, you won't be disappointed to find your domain name unavailable. Hope this helps.

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  29. Hi Joanne,
    Thank you so much for stopping by and clarifying that! I appreciated your insight on Janna's site today and was curious to know more! I will have to look into getting a domain name. This all completely new to me, but something I know I need to do!

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  30. Yes, Jody, today was so much better and I know it had to do with my time spent with the Lord this morning and the extra prayers from friends like you. You are an encourager!

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  31. Stories like this encourage me, and always have! First of all, it makes you realize that you're not the only one who has had to endure rough times and potentially many years before reaching the place you long for. And secondly, it proves that you never know when you will make it to publication. Most likely it will come out of the blue when you least expect it. And I think it makes it so much better that way.

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  32. Hi again Sherrinda,
    Glad you had a better day!! Hope you can keep up the trend!

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  33. Hi Cindy,
    Those are both great points! I really like knowing that I'm not alone on this writing journey and it excites me to think about that "moment" springing up and surprising me someday!

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