Closed doors: when putting pen to paper is only the beginning
"All my seven Narnian books began with seeing pictures in my head. 'The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe' began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: 'Let's try to make a story about it.' At first I had very little idea how the story would go."- C.S. Lewis
The concept had been swirling in my head for a while. So, when I found out I needed ankle reconstruction surgery three years ago that would put me in a cast for the winter, I figured God was giving me the opportunity to put pen to paper and begin writing what I now call “The Beautiful List.” This story also began with a simple picture in my mind years ago, one of a conversation between a mother and daughter.
"Getting the ball rolling on a goal or a dream can be really tough.
But once we've begun, the real challenges often begin."
And now, the hard work has actually started. Getting the ball rolling on a goal or a dream can be really tough. But once we’ve begun, the real challenges often begin. Writing a book to encourage tween girls to love themselves the way they’ve been created isn’t going to help a lot of them if they can’t read it. The obvious next step is getting the manuscript published, ideally with the help of a literary agent. After months of some back-and-forth communication with my first choice agent, I now face my first large fork in the road. And rejection.
It is so hard not to take it personally. Reminding ourselves that a “no” doesn’t mean “not ever by any means” helps a little. So does separating the rejection of something we've done from rejection of who we are. That is easier said than done when our work feels so much like an extension of us. Keeping in mind that there is always something to learn, asking questions to gain more insight into a “no” can help us get a “yes” down the road after more effort or work is done. But the initial sting … it’s important to feel that, to allow ourselves a momentary pity party so we can move forward to find the next step.
When pursuing a calling – something we believe we were made to do – Satan will do all He can to thwart it. He will attack our confidence by making us question if we actually heard God correctly in the first place. He will poison us with darts of comparison, pointing out to us how much better some other writer or musician or statistician or (fill in the blank) is. He will invade our thought lives and make us believe we are in over our heads, as if we are somehow fully responsible for what happens with the Lord’s work instead of the actual truth: that God will complete the good work He has begun in us, and that his purposes will prevail (Philippians 1:6 and Proverbs 19:21).
What I will do next in the publishing journey is unclear. At the moment, I’m reaching out to some mentors: publishers and authors I know who can help guide my strategic planning on the best next move. Pushing forward and sending nearly the same book proposal to the next agent on my list sounds like a great way to end up with the same result. Thus, pausing and taking time to think and receive wise counsel makes sense.
What I won’t do is give in or give up. I knew when I began writing that I didn’t know the final purpose of what I was doing; and I still don’t. But I know that the hard work has just begun. This closed door is not the end. I'm reminded of what my son's first grade teacher says to her students when they say they've finished their writing. "When you're done, you've just begun." It's like that with so many things in life, isn't it?