This is a (slightly!) adapted version of a post previously published on the More than Writers blog
I found that writing my first book was a profound experience – a journey; something which shaped me, something I was determined to do despite the outcome (there had been other attempts, but this one had staying power). I fell in love with my topic.
What utter joy to find a publisher who did too.
Once it was published, amid all the fanfare, I felt exhausted. I needed time out, time to regroup – let alone time to do all the other work I do in my life.
I kept an eye on what writers in my circle of acquaintance were doing. I felt stunned when, after publishing a book (after me, I might add), they announced the second one was on the go. I know we’re not meant to compare ourselves but I felt that mixture of dread and envy. How on earth?
But of course, that isn’t me. And God’s timing for me is different. I’m built differently. And God knows I need time to find that topic I can fall in love with, the one planted gently in my heart until I notice it growing there, sending out branches and connecting itself with other interests, other passions. The one which wakes me up at night when I realise – yes! That’s the connection!
Your story is your own. And I don’t mean the book you may or may not be writing. I mean your life, your journey as a writer. By all means, be inspired by others – but be yourself.
This can be challenging, when we examine our motives. Are they simply ‘to get published’? Is that enough? Or do we claim to have more noble motives, such as ‘bringing God glory’? Perhaps you feel called to share your testimony and thought ‘I’ll write a book!’ But what if that’s not the way you are called to share your story – not now, not yet? Perhaps you are to bring God glory in something less obvious, but far more important to those you encounter.
Maybe you’ve written something no one else seems interested in, but it is special to you. That doesn’t take away its worth as an important part of your story. It’s not wasted. Don’t toss it away as if it were nothing, but treasure the journey you made. Perhaps God wants to speak to you through it, most of all.
Perhaps it takes you six months to write a book; perhaps it takes you six years. That’s your way of doing things, that’s the way you’ve been made.
You don’t have to produce books left, right and centre. Fallow times are important for many of us. We need sometimes to put things down, even if people are clamouring at us: ‘when’s the next one?’
But when the right moment comes, it will capture you again.
Now I have signed a contract for book number two and am in the midst of writing my first full draft. I’m elated, not just because of the thing itself but because it feels the right time. And now I get to fall in love all over again, throw myself into the heady mix of something bigger than I am. I’m ready. I wasn’t, before.
And I’m ready to listen to God and learn from God myself in the process.
That idea fills me with delight.