Glimpsing the Forest – M. Laycock

I remember a day when I stood on a high mountain top in the
middle of the Yukon Territory. I looked out over range after range of mountains
and forests and knew there were very few people out there looking back. It made
me feel small but it overwhelmed me with a sense of being part of something
huge – a creation so vast and beautiful that it made me weep.
I came to Christ in a tiny mission church in a far northern
corner of the Yukon. For about three years I attended Sunday services in a
small run-down building that held almost the entire Christian population of
that town, somewhere around 30 people. For those three years that was my entire
exposure to the Christian world.
Then my husband and I began to feel that God had something
planned for us and within a short time we found ourselves selling our home on
the banks of the Klondike river, loading up all of our worldly belongings,
including two little girls and a full-gown Husky dog, and making the long
journey south to attend Canada’s largest Bible College located in the middle of
the Canadian prairies.
I didn’t expect the culture shock that hit as we settled
into life in a place that was not only very different geographically, but also
culturally. Coming from a small town where there were very few Christians, it
was astounding to realize we now lived in a community where everyone was a
believer, from the postmaster to the mechanic, from the hairdresser to the
doctor.
I remember standing on a street corner on that first Sunday,
watching more than 2,000 people walk toward the large building where Sunday
services were held. I remember standing in the congregation, in absolute awe at
the sound of those 2,000 voices singing praises to God. And I remember weeping.
I was once again standing on a mountain top and realized that the Christian
world was not small and insignificant, it was many and mighty. Suddenly I
glimpsed the whole forest.
It made me feel small, but it also overwhelmed me with the
knowledge that I was part of something huge, a part of God’s kingdom, a part of
the wider family of God.
There have been times, as a Christian writer, that I have
felt small, alone and isolated. I have wondered if there really was any
significance to what I did. But then I would hear reports of how God moved at a
large writers’ conference or hear about a response to a friend’s work or get an
email about my own work from someone in a foreign country, or be overwhelmed
with well-wishes from every corner of the continent and beyond, when I posted
news of signing a writing contract. And once again I would be on a mountain
top, glimpsing the forest, the vast congregation of God’s people, writing and
ministering for and with Him.
And I weep with the knowledge that I am privileged to be
part of it.
“Praise God in the great congregation; praise the Lord
in the assembly of Israel.”  Psalm
68:26
****
 
Abundant Rain, Marcia’s devotional ebook for authors of faith is now available on Amazon. For more information on Marcia’s writing and speaking ministries visit her website.
 

The Marathon of Publishing

I began 2012 with a New Years Resolution to
start jogging. I figured it’d give me the best work out in the shortest amount
of time. Unlike most New Years Resolutions, I actually stuck to this one. My
sister recommended I try an App called “Couch Potato to 5-K.”
Having nothing to lose, and since my only
plan was to just “jog” I took her advice.
Here’s the way the App works. Over
nine-weeks you alternate between walking and jogging. At first, you walk a lot more
than you jog, but by the end of nine weeks, you only walk to warm up and cool
down.
It went something like this:
Week
One
: Wow, this is so easy. Why haven’t I always
done this! I LOVE jogging! This is my new exercise for-ever!
Week
Five
: Oh my gosh, how many more minutes until I can
walk again? Are you kidding me?  I can’t
do this! These people are insane! Who can do this? This HURTS.
Week
Nine
: I will not quit, I will not stop. I am
capable of doing this.
By the end of those nine weeks, discipline
alone kept me grabbing my iPhone and sneakers. It wasn’t fun, but it was no longer painful. It was akin to reaching maturity.
Often while I jog, I mentally compare it to
publishing, encouraging myself to glue myself to my seat when I get back home.
True, I am not experiencing the
“honeymoon” period, where I could write every second and I squirrel
away—and I’ll never-ever-ever-ever get tired of writing.
I’m moving past the second stage, where
I’ve looked at the big picture (writing + the right agent + the right publisher
+ marketing skills + publicity skills + small business skills + lots and lots
of prayer + wondering who can keep up with this?) and feel overwhelmed. 
I’m heading now into the third stage—where in
discipline, I work, I write, I research, I market. And yeah, it’s a lot of work
and not a ‘typical’ life. For a little while, this stage confused me. I
wondered why I wasn’t having “fun.”
But as I jogged recently, I realized that
when an Olympian runner trains, he/she doesn’t think Wow, I’m running and this is great!, It’s not. They don’t think. They
just do. They’re pursing a difficult dream without the promise of reward. And
if they make it, what really counts as they crouch at that starting line, is
the unseen hours of hard work that prepared them for that moment. So they dive in. They simply work. 
So, which stage are you in?

Paralyzing Fear

Writer’s block is a tough wall to breach

Paralyzing fear, also known to those of us who
scribble as a living as writer’s block. Most writers have
experienced this at some point in their career. Traditionally, we define it as
a time when the well runs dry in the middle of a project.
I have a different opinion. I’ve talked with (okay,
occasionally ambushed) many writers over the years and find the conversation
might go something like this.
Me: “Have you ever had to deal with writer’s
block
?”
Anonymous Writer: “No, never. Once I start a
project I just keep going, no matter what I’m feeling.”
Me: “What about before you begin a project? Have
you ever postponed it because you doubt your ability to do it
justice? Or maybe you needed to think about it some more – just work out the
details in your head?”
At this point the person I’m speaking with usually
takes a step back and begins to stammer. Most writers don’t include being
afraid to start a project, as writer’s block. I would beg to
differ—anything that keeps you paralyzed and unable to write is, by definition,
writer’s block.
Success can sometimes make us more
afraid of failure
Funny thing is, the people who suffer most from writer’s
block
are writers who’ve had a modicum of success. Maybe they’ve won a
contest or two, or written regularly for a while. Usually they’re afraid they
can’t live up to what’s gone before.
I also find it crops up when a writer is trying a
new genre. They might be going from fiction to non-fiction, or from writing
devotions to writing a column or even romance to science fiction. Let’s face
it, trying something new is always a daunting prospect.
Now that
we’ve defined it, how do we combat it?
 
  • First, quit putting it off. Make a
    commitment to spend a certain amount of time in front of the computer—writing—and
    do it. Sound hard? Of course it is, otherwise everyone would be a writer.
  • Begin by writing what you’re afraid of. Fear of
    failure? Write why it matters. Fear of inadequacy? Define it. You’ll find it
    looks small and more than a little silly when you actually write it down.
  • Next, remember how you got here.
    Recognition in the writing world comes (99.9% of the time) from putting in
    time. It comes from being willing to let others see your work and getting back
    at it after rejection. Give yourself some credit, you’re obviously
    not a wimp or you wouldn’t be trying to become a writer.
  • Finally, give yourself permission to try and fail. Just
    because this one project doesn’t work out doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. I
    would say the contrary is true. If you succeed at everything you’ve tried so
    far, I suggest that maybe you’re not trying very much. 

Quit procrastinating under the guise of ‘I have to
think this through before I start.’ Get out there, and blow a raspberry at writer’s block
and hit those keys!
Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also the Social Media Coach at My Book Therapy.