Hello, friends! It was 60 degrees here in Michigan today AND sunny, which has me thinking maybe spring is real and not just a myth after all. One can always hope, right? For today’s post, I’m so delighted to host a dear writer friend, Kerry Johnson.
Kerry and I have yet to meet in person (someday!), but I’ve been so encouraged by her ever since “meeting” her on social media. We’ve swapped work for critiques, commiserated over the trials of publishing, and now share the same wonderful literary agent.
Kerry is an award-winning writer of Christian romance, and today she has a word of encouragement for all of us writers, no matter where we are in the journey toward publication. Take it away, Kerry!
“Why are there so many pieces left?” My seven-year-old niece held a blue bowl, a dozen colorful Legos rattling around inside.
“In case a piece gets lost, they always send extras in the sets.”
Abbie had just watched my younger son build an impressive Marvel Lego set from Christmas, and after Chase carried it to the designated shelf in his room, she came to me with the bowl, her brow puckered and questions piling up.
Abbie’s been living with us for several months, and part of getting to know this loud and ticklish family is recognizing our immense love of anything and everything Lego. Since our fifteen and thirteen-year-old sons were little, Legos played an important role in Christmases and birthdays. The small plastic bricks covered our play room floor and finished sets sat on shelves for the last decade. My favorite thrift store find ever was a slightly used Lego table that I paid a fraction of the original cost for and that our boys spent hours playing around.
Abbie glanced from my face to the bowl and back. “Did he finish the set?”
“Yes, he’s done. Those are leftovers.”
“Can I make something so they’re not wasted?”
I nodded, and she ran off to her room to create with the tiny bits of Lego chaos. I continued thinking about the leftover pieces and that word.
Were they wasted? God connected my ponderings with my bible reading that day from First Samuel. The Old Testament book covers the transition of leadership in Israel from judges to kings, and chapter three details Samuel’s childhood. He’s a little boy born as an answered prayer, and his life is dedicated as the Lord’s last prophet to anoint the coming kings, Saul and David. As he begins serving under the high priest, Eli, God speaks to Samuel. Samuel doesn’t recognize the voice, but later Eli realizes it’s God speaking, and he instructs the boy to listen.
“Then Samuel told him (Eli) everything, and hid nothing from him. And he said ‘It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.’ So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground (3:18 & 19).
As a pre-published author, that phrase struck me like an electric shock. Samuel was beginning his life and service for God, yet God was making certain none of his words were wasted. There’s a good chance you’ve written a LOT of words—maybe, ten thousand words—that you ended up deleting. Or words you cut and paste into another document to “save for later.” Friend, I’ve been there. Sometimes I revisit the word files for each book and read over the lonely sentences and paragraphs that didn’t make the cut.
Maybe you wrote an entire book that was passed over multiple times, and in turn you began a new book, waving sadly at those pretty words, those dear characters you had to leave behind. Likely you’ve also spent hour upon hour on revisions, delete-add-delete-add-I’m-losing-my-mind-over-this-sentence work that is frustrating but necessary.
Were all those efforts—those precious words—wasted?
No, no, no, and double NO. None of your words fell to the ground.
I’m always grateful when published authors share that their “debut” was actually the third, or fifth, or even eighth book they’ve written. And if we average that out to 70k each, it means it’s possible a pre-published author *might* write upwards of 500k before getting the call, signing the contract, and actually getting paid for those voices in your head.
Looking back over the stories I’ve written in the ten years since I began pursuing publication, I see a maturing voice. A greater understanding of the craft of writing. Life-long connections to other writers I cherish and need. A confidence that contest wins or finals (along with lots of misses and rejections) has imparted that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Abbie reappeared with a closed fist and a giddy smile. “Guess what’s inside?”
“Hmm… a Lego car?”
“No there’s not that many pieces!”
I scratched my head. “A Lego dog?”
“No!” She opened her hand. “It’s a garden!”
On her small palm lay a colorful arrangement of mismatched pieces that did indeed resemble a funny little garden, each leftover piece ‘planted’ in a specific spot.
Author friends, your words are never wasted. Instead they’re stepping stones to higher places. Maybe…beautiful, unexpected gardens.
Keep imagining. Keep dreaming. Keep reading. Most of all, keep writing.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve written a lot of words that no one else will ever read. Thank you, Kerry, for this beautiful and uplifting reminder that none of those words are wasted!
If you want to connect with Kerry or learn more about her books, visit her online at http://kerryjohnsonbooks.com/, or find her on social media at:
Header image credit: Pixabay.com, CC0 license.