One simple Scripture that helps propel us through the smoking, sulphurous swampland of Writer Doubts.
Jesus did not say, "Take up your paycheck and follow Me." He didn't say, "Take up your accolades and follow Me." Or "Take up your family's admiration and follow Me."
He said, "Take up your cross."
He laid out a writing path for each of us, all steps but the one we're on shrouded in shadows. "Take up your cross and come on. Let's go."
What do writers' crosses look like?
Writing is our bliss, our joy, our fulfillment. We know that few are called or equipped to write and that gives us such a sense of awe that the Lord would choose to gift us that way.
But there are crosses involved. REAL crosses.
One of them is that in ministry and in writing, we will never be paid a decent hourly wage. NEVER. We will never be paid MINIMUM WAGE! Even those with a five thousand dollar advance have probably put two thousand hours into their project!
Those called to devote themselves to ministry or writing bear the cross of being misunderstood by those who find their joy in or don't mind bagging groceries or working at Kwik Trip or punching a time card at the shoe factory. We admire their tenacity and endurance for their tasks. We admire their willingness to do whatever it takes to put food on the table. But they won't always admire ours because to them, capturing words is like skipping through the meadow with a butterfly net.
We will be misunderstood by those who put in fewer hours than we do and make ten times the income. We will be misunderstood by caring but misguided family members who ask, "Why can't you get a real job?"
We will also bear the cross of forgoing normal signs of approval for what we do. No steady paycheck (for most of us). No merit increase. No performance evaluation where we hear, "You are so prompt!" Or "I can always count on you to do your work with excellence." If the Lord allows, we'll sometimes hear an editor make a comment like that. But mostly, we have to draw our own conclusions from an acceptance or rejection letter and an occasional positive critique.
Writers are artists and artists bear the cross of living in the intangibles. We can't lay that paycheck on the kitchen table or point to our company's 401K. We lay our words on the altar. Most of us can't pay for new carpeting. We wear it out on our knees. We can't bring home groceries. We write article ideas or character qualities on the back of our grocery list and forget where we put it.
When we look at those issues as facts of the writing life, when we doubt that we have anything to offer because we have nothing to show, we slip off the one-step-at-a-time path and onto the unstable bog of the slurpy swamp.
When we recognize that the weight we feel pressing upon us is a writer's cross, we stand taller, shift the weight, take a deep breath, and keep climbing. (Did I mention the path is all uphill?)
Pressing on, picking splinters, guarding against infection,