Of Fish and Crushed Dreams

by Marcia Lee Laycock

Writers are dreamers. We dream of accolades and awards, of lives changed, perhaps even saved. Sometimes it feels like our dreams are close to coming true. But sometimes our dreams are crushed. Our career looks like nothing but a pile of pointless efforts. Sometimes all the sacrifices seem to have been for nothing and we come close to giving up on all the dreams.
I think that was the state the disciples were in, when Jesus was crucified. The hardest day in their lives was probably the day before the resurrection – that very long day when they were in hiding, fearing that they too might end up on a cross.

Imagine the dreams the disciples had – dreams perhaps of the glory and acclaim they would have as his disciples when they came into their own in his new kingdom. It was an earthly kingdom they were dreaming of, that did not include the brutal rule of the Romans.

Imagine what they’d sacrificed – they’d left their homes, families, their livelihoods – the fishing nets that supplied their food; in Matthew’s case, the money collection stall that made him wealthy; in Luke’s case, a fulfilling and lucrative medical practice. They’d allowed Jesus to turn their lives upside down. And now what? He was gone and it looked like it had all been for nothing.

No wonder Peter said, “I’m going fishing” (John 21:1). He’d given up on the dreams. He didn’t know what to do with himself, so he went back to what he knew – casting his nets, and he took some of the other disciples with him.

But look at what happened – in the last part of vs. 3 of John 21 it says, “but that night they caught nothing.” Then, early in the morning, when they were heading back to shore empty handed, a man calls out to them – “friends, haven’t you caught any fish?”

Imagine the tone of their voices when they say no. But the stranger tells them to throw their nets on the right side of their boat. And you know what happened. The nets were so full they couldn’t haul them in and then they recognize Jesus.

I love this next part. Jesus has made a fire and is cooking fish. When the disciples arrive, he says, “Bring some of the fish you have caught.” I can just imagine their bewilderment as they struggled to understand what Jesus was trying to teach them.

I think he was trying to tell them that he had more for them to do than just catching fish, more for them to be concerned about than just making a living. He was telling them He would provide for them. The story wasn’t over. In fact, it was just beginning.

Noted author and counselor, Larry Crabb wrote – “God is always working to make His children aware of a dream that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream, a new dream that when realized will release a new song, sung with tears, till God wipes them away and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts.”

Yes, sometimes our dreams can look like their dead, but lift up your head. Jesus is there, with a better plan.

TWEETABLES



Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. 

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers is available on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format. 
Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 

Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur

Six of the Worst Things About Being a Writer

by James L. Rubart

This is far from a comprehensive list, but don’t you think six is enough for one serving?

1. Comparing Yourself to Others/Doubt/Insecurity– I combined these three into one since they’re brothers, or at least close cousins. We compare because we doubt which comes out of our insecurity.

“Why did I think I should do this?”

“I’ll never make it.”

“How can I call myself a writer when everyone else is so much better?”
This tri-fecta (Comparison, Doubt, Insecurity) is one of the worst of the worst things, but it’s also one you can do something about.

Change your script:

“I can do this.”

“I have the desire and my desire reveals the way I’m designed, and my design reveals my destiny.”

“This is my journey, no one else’s, so I’m not going to compare my path to anybody else.”

2. Lots of Sacrifices- no painter, poet, musician, chef, athlete, etc., etc., ever achieved anything of note without making sacrifices.

Yeah, that means forgoing overpriced coffee for a year so you can go to that writing conference, it means cutting our TV time back, it means getting up an hour early or going to bed an hour later, it means getting together with friends less often.

When people tell me they don’t have time to work on their craft, I say there is always time, what they really mean is too many other things are a higher priority.

That’s okay, but it’s not that the time isn’t there, it’s that they’re not willing to make the sacrifices to excel at the craft.

3. Rejection- This has been written about often on Novel Rocket so I won’t comment except to remind you that EVERYONE faces rejection—including bestselling, award winning novelists. You are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone.

4. Expectations/reactions from family, friends, and acquaintances- When I first dove into novel writing, I was excited to tell people about how I felt God had invited me into the journey.

They’d smile and say, “That’s so cool! When is your novel coming out?”

“Uh, well … I just started writing it, that takes a while and it’s not that easy to get a contract and …”

“So will that take about a year then?”

“Hmmm, probably bit longer …”

Our friends and family mean well, but as with any industry, if you don’t know how it works it’s easy to make assumptions. Be patient with them, they are on your side.

5. The Pay- Overheard at a recent writing conference:

“Let’s see, it took 10 years before I got my first contract, and I spent $5,500 on conferences and books and retreats and travel and got a $6,500 advance and if you factor in all the hours I’ve spent learning the craft and writing my book, I guess I’m making about .03 cents an hour.”

But we’re not doing this for money, right? We’re doing it because we can’t NOT do it.

6. The self-appointed critic-
At a book signing a few years ago, I had a gentleman announce that he’d bought my novel and was going to, “Take it home and go through it page by page and write in the margins all the things you did wrong, then send it back to you.”

No, he wasn’t kidding.

No matter where we’re at on our writing journey, there are people ready to pull us back down to earth. Ignore them. Cut the rope they’re hanging onto and launch yourself into the sky.

Those on the ground struggle when they see those of us who want to fly because they’ve often never found the fortitude to take the risk. You did. We did. Let’s continue to fly together.


TWEETABLES

Some never found the fortitude to take the risk. You did. We did.~ James L. Rubart (Click to Tweet)



James L. Rubart
is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s the best-selling, Christy BOOK of the YEAR, INSPY, and RT Book Reviews award winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker and the co-host of the Novel Marketing podcast. During the day he runs his branding and marketing company which helps businesses, authors, and publishers make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. More at www.jameslrubart.com

Finding The Voice

by Marcia Lee Laycock

The voice coming out of the recorder did not sound like me. I wrinkled my nose. I wasn’t sure I liked the sound of it. But the interviewer laughed. “Everyone I interview says the same thing. Keep in mind, this is an electronic version of your voice. It’s not the real thing.”

That got me thinking. What is the “real thing” in terms of my “voice” as a writer? Everyone tells us we have to have one, and that it must be strong and distinctive. But how do you know if you even have one? It’s one of those rather illusive things that is difficult to describe and it’s almost impossible to teach someone how to find it.
But there is hope because, yes, we all have one. It’s an amazing thing, but each of us is unique and our work reveals that uniqueness. Each of us comes to the writing with our own experiences, our own perspectives, our own stories, and we tell them with our own distinct voices.

Think of three of your favourite authors. If you picked up a book by each one with a blank cover that did not reveal their names, could you tell which book was written by which author? Chances are it would be easy, because each has a distinct way of telling a story. They use words differently, sentence length and structure will vary, and the very tone of the writing will give them away.

Young writers, like young painters, often find themselves copying the voice of a master. Years ago I wrote a short piece about my daughter that still makes me chuckle when I read it because it is so obvious I was reading a lot of Walter Wangerin Jr.’s work. I can hear his ‘voice’ in the story. That’s not all bad. As a painter learns the craft by imitating the masters, so we too, as writers, can learn a lot by imitating the master writers. But like those young painters who eventually develop their own style, we too must develop our own authentic voice as writers.

Part of that process involves listening to the authentic voice of the One who has given us the gift of writing. As we hear and heed His voice, we grow into the people and the writers He intends us to be. As we grow closer to Him, His voice becomes one we recognize and want to follow.

John 10:3&4 says: “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

Praise God we have a Saviour whose voice will never cease calling us to Him. Praise God He has given us each a distinct voice with which to “… proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works” (Psalm 26:7).

TWEETABLES

Finding The Voice by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

A painter learns the craft by imitating the masters~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Growing closer to Him, we recognize and want to follow His voice~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)


Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. 

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers is available on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format. 
Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 

Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur

Getting to the P.O.I.N.T. of Being a Writer

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Many of us came to the world of writing in a roundabout way. A lot of us don’t have degrees that qualify us. Because of that, we often struggle with insecurity.

We strive for validation through publication.

But no matter how many awards we win, things we publish, followers we have, the only validation that lasts is confidence.

And confidence is a decision, not a designation.
Our confidence may come from knowing who we are, knowing what we were called to do or even where we are on the journey. But it always takes a great dollop of faith to make it stick.

And some days it sticks better than others.

So here is my acronym for getting to the point of confidence, which is foundational to being a serious writer.

The P. O. I. N. T. of Being a Writer

P is for persistence, permission, and patience. Being a writer is a journey, not a destination, so it takes persistence to stay the course. Beyond that, it’s not a path that ends in perfection. To be confident in ourselves means we have to give ourselves permission to to try things and fail. Failure is an option and frequently holds the key to learning the best secrets. Finally, we must have patience. Nothing about being a serious writer comes overnight.

O is for optimism, organic, and obstacles. The writing journey isn’t easy, and that’s especially true if we’re only looking for the worst in ourselves and everything around us. We have to develop a glass-half-full-mentality to survive. Organic is the best kind of growth for a writer. We all progress at our own speed. Comparison is the quickest way to discouragement. Finally obstacles—there are always bumps in the writing road, no matter how far along we are. Obstacles are challenges to be met, hardships to be conquered, and barriers to get around. They are NOT excuses to stop.
I is for insecurity, intuition, and inconceivable. Insecurity isn’t something that disappears on its own. It’s one of those obstacles that must be conquered—sometimes on a daily or even hourly basis. Accept the fact that almost one hundred percent of those writing feel insecure. Intuition is often something we must learn to trust. We should take critique well, but we must become secure in our own abilities. Finally inconceivable is the emotion that happens when we take a minute to realize we’re living out our dream. It isn’t easy, but it’s a courageous thing to do and we should lean into that and celebrate on a daily basis.

N is for noise, never, and nevertheless. Noise is the chaos of life threatening to drown out the words clamoring to escape our souls. We must fight against the siren call of busyness and be about the work of writing. Never is the time when we quit. We never give up the pen. The only way to fail as a writer is to quit, so never is the driving beat deep within our souls. Nevertheless is how we keep moving forward. Certain things happen, but nevertheless we keep writing.

T is for toiling, testing, and THE call. Toiling is what we do. It’s more than just work, it’s the driving force that keeps us writing through the night and through the chaos of life. Testing is what happens again and again as we prove to ourselves we can persevere. Finally THE call is why I do what I do. I felt God whisper that I was a writer. I feel His joy as exercise the gift He’s given me. And one day I pray to receive the ultimate affirmation when I stand before Him. “Well done good and faithful servant.”

These are the points that make up the lines that create the words that we share with the world. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this writing life.

TWEETABLES
Getting to the P.O.I.N.T. of Being a Writer by Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

My acronym for getting to the point of confidence~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

This is foundational to being a serious writer.~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)




Edie Melson
—author, blogger, speaker—has written numerous books, including her most recent, fiction, Alone, and nonfiction, While My Child is Away. She’s also the military family blogger at Guideposts.org. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She’s the the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com.