Discouraged? Turn Your Focus to God

By Suzanne Hartmann

Several years ago, after I had received over twenty rejection letters from querying agents for several months, I succumbed to discouragement. I questioned whether I was going in the right direction with my novel, The Race that Lies Before Us. Thankfully, God had the answer for me, but I had to look to Him to receive it.

The following week, my church began a Bible study called Experiencing God. As I looked over the material, God caught my attention on the first day of the first lesson. The study asked, “When you come to the Lord Jesus to seek His will for your life, which of the following requests is most like what you ask?
1) Lord, what do you want me do to? When do you want me to do it? How shall I do it? Where shall I do it? Who do you want me to involve along the way? And please tell me what the outcome will be.
2) Lord, just tell me what to do one step at a time, and I will do it.”

Wow, did that ever smack me between the eyes! A few paragraphs further, the lesson really sank in with this statement: “If you don’t trust Jesus to guide you this way, what happens if you don’t know the way you are to go? You worry every time you must make a turn.” That’s exactly what happened to me. I wanted God to tell me how to change my manuscript to draw the attention of agents. I wanted Him to tell me which agents to query and whether my novel would ever be published. When I didn’t get the answers I sought, I took my eyes off of God and began to look at the expectations of the publishing industry. This quickly led to frustration, worry, and discouragement.

I recognized my sin, asked God to forgive me, then prayed He would strengthen my faith and fill me with confidence in Him. Then, and only then, did things began to happen again. The following day, I received another request for my full manuscript. The next day, I received “good” rejection letter (one with some personalization rather than a generic form letter) from an agent who had already sent a rejection letter—a very unusual happening that made it apparent that it was a God-thing. She said that my story has publication potential and stated that my writing impressed her.

A week later, I attended my first writers’ conference. On that day, I picked up some good recommendations for changes from the free professional critique I signed up for months before, and reading my first few paragraphs out loud in a class on beginnings and endings gave me the direction I needed to revise those all-important paragraphs. The following week, I received a second “good” rejection letter from an agent. He said my project exhibits merit and told me the book has a good plotline. The rest of the feedback wasn’t as glowing, but it was the kind of thing I need to know. And the fact that he took the time to personalize the letter says that he feels I show promise.

But God wasn’t about to send me these signs until I realized that they came from Him through these agents, not from the agents themselves. So if you’re experiencing discouragement, turn your focus to God. He is the one who has plans for your writing. He is the one who will tell you how to improve your writing. He is the one who will lead you where to go with your writing. But He won’t do it until you’re at the point where you will recognize that it is He who is giving you this, not the people through whom He sends the messages.

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Suzanne Hartmann is the author of the novels Peril and Conspiracy, Christian suspense she calls fiction with a twist of the unexpected. For the last several years, she has also stepped into the editorial side of writing, with her work at Port Yonder Press and now Castle Gate Press. She offers a plethora of easy-to-understand writing advice on her blog, Write This Way, which she has compiled into a book of the same name (available at her blog). When not writing, editing, or homeschooling, she enjoys scrapbooking, Bible study, and scouring local library sales for good deals. She loves to encourage fellow authors, so stop by her Facebook Page and drop her a note.

LINK for Write This Way: Write This Way Blog: http://suzanne-hartmann2.blogspot.com/2007/01/write-this-way-take-your-writing-to-new.html

LINKS for Suzanne:

Facebook – Suzanne Hartmann – Author

Twitter – @SuzInIL

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