After months and months of writing work, God has led my writing career exactly where I didn’t think it was going. In a good way, though. I mean, it’s like aiming for Disneyland and realizing you’ve arrived at Disney World instead. They’re both happy places.
When we last left my writing journey, I’d signed an agency agreement with the wonderful Karen Ball of the Steve Laube Agency (read the whole agent story if you want to know about that). The plan was to finish my novel and send the proposal out to publishers.
“We need to send your dog book out too,” Karen says during our video chat one day.
I frown. “Technically it’s complete, but it needs a revision. I can’t work on that and finish the novel at the same time.”
“That’s okay. We can still send out a proposal.”
“It needs a BIG revision.”
“If we get an offer, you can revise it.”
Clearly I’m not explaining the situation properly. While the dog book has a great start—enough that even Mr. NY Times agent thought it had promise—it has some sort of fatal flaw that I’m not sure how to fix. I’m not even sure what the fatal flaw is. I only have vague notions from vague comments on previous rejections.
Hey, why don’t I just tell my agent she’s an idiot for taking me on because in reality I’m too dumb to figure out what’s wrong with the dog book.
“I thought you liked my fiction?” I say.
“I like both.”
“I don’t think any publishers are going to be interested in the dog book in its current form.”
“Yes they will. It’s a great idea and great writing.”
“You’ve only got the first twenty pages.” Right before it crashes and burns because of that fatal flaw I don’t have a handle on.
I’m about to disagree, but it occurs to me—should I really be arguing with a person who’s made her living in publishing for 30 years?
But I do need to fess up about my shortcomings. “Okay, we can send out the proposal, but can you please read the manuscript and tell me what it needs in terms of revising? I’m really not sure.”
She agrees, but here’s the funny thing. Before she even gets a chance to read it, I stumble into a fix for one of the issues early in the book. At least it feels like I’ve stumbled into it. But maybe the answers were there all along, waiting for me to discover them.
I just didn’t know if I could.
Why do I doubt myself?
Am I alone in that?
Or do we all, deep down, question whether God has really given us gifts? And if he has, don’t we still doubt that we can use them effectively?
Like God is somehow going to tell us he wants us to do something, and then not give us the ability?
Sounds ridiculous when I put it that way. Yet it’s easy to slip into that mindset. We think we’re doubting ourselves, but now I wonder…isn’t it God we’re doubting?
Maybe, rather than doubting, we simply need to trust those gifts are there and trust God will enable us to use them according to his purpose.
So how do we do that?
I admit I still don’t know what fixes need to happen before the rest of the dog book takes shape into something with life and purpose and hope. But here’s my plan, and you can use it too, for whatever it is that God has put in you to do that you’re doubting you can do.
We’ll focus on being faithful, on moving forward, on doing our work everyday as best as we know how.
And then we’ll simply believe answers will come in time.
Ability will come.
Fruit will come.
Because this is what Jesus said: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” John 15:16a
(Read more of the book contract story)