Monday, September 27, 2010

Why Bother?

I recently attended the annual meeting of the American Christian Fiction Writers, where over 600 women and men gathered to hone their writing skills, be inspired, and try to convince an agent or editor in a 15 minute session that their book could be the next Twilight or The Shack. It was, to use the words of Charles Dickens, both the best and the worst of times.

It was wonderful to see old friends and meet new ones. Time after time someone would sneak a peek at my name badge and say, "I recognize you from your comments on so-and-so's blog" or "I love your book." Hugs and handshakes were the order of the day. That was great.

On the other hand, when you consider that a publishing house might launch twelve to twenty new books per year, many of them by previously published authors, the odds of a new author ever breaking into print seem pretty slim. In my own particular case, I wrote four books and tried for four years to market them, garnering forty rejections before I hit the right set of circumstances that resulted in the publication of not one but three books. Without sounding too pious about the whole thing, it truly is a matter of God's timing.

So why do we continue to write? Because it's what we do. If I knew I'd never have another book published (and there's no guarantee that's not the case), I'd still sit down at the computer as often as I could snatch the time and pound out another scene or chapter. Why? Because, as I've heard it put, "we can't not write." And if no one ever reads my words, at least one person--me-- will be affected by my efforts.

Is there something you do that may never pay tangible dividends? Do you sometimes think your efforts are in vain, but you keep plugging along? Good for you. Whatever it is, I hope you keep doing it.

CHANCE TO WIN A BUNDLE OF BOOKS:  Friend and fellow author of Christian medical novels, Candace Calvert, is giving away copies of her works of medical romance and my books of medical suspense. Check out her blog and leave a comment for a chance to win. Deadline is October 4.

7 comments:

Cindy R. Wilson said...

You're so right, it's definitely about God's timing. I have to remind myself this sometimes when I feel I'm ready for the next step and wondering why it isn't coming.

But he's faithful and I am looking forward to growing with my writing in the meantime.

The conference was amazing, wasn't it? I think I saw you there but didn't have a chance to come over and say hi. Glad you had a good time!

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Cindy. Hang in there, and I look forward to seeing your name up in lights (or on a book cover) soon.
There were so many women at ACFW, I hesitated to look too closely at name badges (considering where they were being worn) lest I get into trouble. Sorry we didn't get to talk.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

It was great to meet you in person! What a huge throng was there this time. I'm glad our paths crossed, despite the crowd. :-)

Richard Mabry said...

Rosslyn, I enjoyed the chance to have a few words with you at the ACFW meeting. Sorry I had to leave before the banquet. I hear you and your husband were quite a hit with your period costumes. Good thing you don't write speculative fiction set in the year 2400--no telling what kind of costume you'd have to put together. : )

Carol J. Garvin said...

I'm envious of all my blogging friends who got to the ACFW conference! Fortunately I have a closer-to-home conference coming up in a couple weeks.

To answer your question, I think the only thing I despair of ever finishing is the cataloguing of reams of family photos. I have all my parents' photos plus an accumulation of our own and I'm determined not to leave them for yet another generation to cope with. But it's slow work and something else always seems more demanding of my time. One day.... :)

Richard Mabry said...

Carol, your comment about cataloging photos really hit home with me. Several months after Cynthia died, I went through boxes of photos and wrote captions on the back of them, because I was the only one left who knew the story behind each one. My children will appreciate that, although I hope it's a number of years before they do. (I also put together a photo album for each of them with photos from their childhood onward.)
Thanks, Carol, for what you're doing for your own family.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

You're so right, it's definitely about God's timing. I have to remind myself this sometimes when I feel I'm ready for the next step and wondering why it isn't coming.

But he's faithful and I am looking forward to growing with my writing in the meantime.

The conference was amazing, wasn't it? I think I saw you there but didn't have a chance to come over and say hi. Glad you had a good time!