*Two years ago, I realized what fuels the engine of my writing desires and what makes publishing more likely to happen. (* I’m resharing this blog post I wrote in 2018 because it’s no longer available elsewhere.)
As much as I’m afraid to walk on or near railroad tracks, I’m also afraid of a train wreck concerning my writing aspirations.
It’s challenging to keep writing forward on book-length manuscripts, and I questioned I had what it takes to form anything longer than a blog post or podcast.
Perhaps I’m only meant to be a devotional writer?
A Time to Pray
I scribbled this prayer in my journal:
Lord, if You want me to keep showing up, please help me to do so.
Teach me to write for You, empowered by You, and for Your glory.
The same day I wrote those words, a friend—who had no idea I was having an inner collapse of confidence—messaged me these ones:
I cried when I read some of your blogs. Beautiful!
Her compliment wasn’t just timely, it was perfect because she’s not one to speak without sincerity. And nothing flatters my writer’s heart more than being told my words drew tears.
So, the next day when I read these words the writer/editor, Mick Silva, wrote on his blog: “You know now you should have stuck to writing shorter pieces,” a thought resurrected in me because I already wondered the same thing about my writing. However, after I read his sentence, I realized—anew—longer pieces such as memoir and novels are composed of “shorter pieces.”
Seriously though, if a blogger can write a hundred blog posts about one topic, that blogger can obviously hold one train of thought long enough to complete an entire book. I’ve already chugged page by page down the tracks of several completed manuscripts without giving up. Sure, they’re rough drafts; that’s where editing comes in. (God bless editors.) Plus, according to my WordPress dashboard, this is my 400th blog post here. In addition, I’ve produced over 170 podcasts on: Walking with Hope
And besides, writing projects don’t have to fall off the tracks because of lack of perfection or lack of faith; as long as we commit our work to the Perfect Father, He’ll lead us down the right railroad. He’ll prevent a derailment of large writing projects through the constructive critiques of others. (Anne Lamott says we should avoid critics who make us “hold our breath.”)
Whatever the length of the book train, if each chapter, paragraph, sentence, or word is carried forward by the blessing of God and the conductor’s authentic voice, worldview, and experience, it’s not going to skip the track. And if the cars are connected by a specific universal theme and unique story that only the author can write, it’s already on its way to becoming a book.
Funny thing is, while I worried that I had wasted my time writing several mystery manuscripts and a memoir, my husband’s been privately reading my novels because he’s as much a fan of mysteries as I am. He’s been reading them for pleasure; while I worried, they weren’t pleasing enough to bother with.
God already answered my prayer:
- I need to stop tying myself to the tracks of author suicide
- I need to climb aboard the manuscript and blow the train’s whistle
- I need to charge full-steam down the line towards the next critique, edit, and query station
Time to Head Down the Tracks
So, what’s the next stop for this runaway train?
I’m chugging ahead car by car.
I’m going to go back and self-edit each car that carries my story forward; I’m going to ditch the cars that don’t. I’m the only conductor who can toss coal into this engine’s fire. God hasn’t given me the gift of loving to sort thoughts through written words so I’ll derail a trestle and drown in a river of oblivion.
He wants me to pick myself up by my caboose straps and think like The Little Blue Engine That Could: “I think I can, I think I can” all the way to the top of the publishing mountain I’m terrified to climb—but more terrified not to.
If we’re not afraid, it means we’re not climbing a tall enough mountain.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.
Psalm 32:8 NIV
The best train of thought for writers is a car by car approach.
Car by Car:
God is good to lead us
Down the track of life
If we seek His help
And heed His wise advice
God is bold to say
Toss coal on the fire
For prayerful perseverance
Fuels the engine of desire.
The title for this post was inspired by Mick Silva and by a book that helped me finish my first manuscript–Anne Lamott’s memoir about writing: Bird by Bird. You can read my review of it on Goodreads.
Here’s the link to the post Mick Silva wrote that inspired mine: When the Waiting has You Clawing the Walls
God is good to lead us along the track of life if we seek His help and heed His wise advice.
Here’s another helpful blog post for writers by Kelly Balarie & Kelly Shayne: Not Good Enough
I’m nosy-to-know what writing advice or writing book you’re most thankful for?
Car by Car Blessings ~ Wendy
P.S. (Feb. 2020) My writing schedule got temporarily derailed during a family crisis shortly after I posted the original version of this on another site; however, I kept blogging, kept podcasting, and kept my social media platform going because I knew I’d be back to my bigger projects once life normalized again. I think I’m back. Hooray!