Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Hard Story

Well, fellow writers, I'm here for encouragement.

There's a book I started working on five years ago. I began it because I felt inspired - because I believed God wanted me to write that story.

I knew when I began that I wanted to self-publish, and I also knew I lacked the funds to publish the book. But I wrote anyway.

I poured sweat, tears, and agonies into that work. I did more research than I had ever done for any other project. I struggled to find the words to write, in a suck-in-your-breath-and-dive kind of way; they didn't pour out like they did on other projects. I lost my drive, then prayed for strength, and kept plodding on.

I sent it off to a well-respected author friend. He kept the manuscript for many months - long enough to make me sure he had left it buried under a pile of papers, forgotten.

But he hadn't. He sent it to me, finally, with hundreds of notes scribbled in the wide margins. He was tough - he said what he thought. And, at the end, he liked it.

He liked it.

But he said it needed work.

So I tore the thing apart, editing for hours at a time. Every so often I would reckon how long it had been since I started, and sigh to myself, but I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Then...it was done. Finished. Ready for publishing.

And I still had no money to print it.

But I was still convinced that God had led me to write the book, and I assured my author friend (who recommend that I take out a loan, he was so eager to get the book in print soon) that God would provide.

And He did - little by little. I worked. And saved. And worked. I didn't tell many people I was saving to publish my book. I wanted God to work it all out by Himself. I kept my savings in an orange-and-white bank envelope, coloring in squares on the front each time I stepped $50 closer to the goal.

That was several years ago.

This book is written for older children. This book is about a preacher. A forgotten man. The man whose preaching God used to start a revival - which in turn formed the "Bible Belt" of the southern states of America. This is the man whose preaching God used to fire up patriots, and teach them that souls are meant to be free, not subject to the will of the Anglican Church of England.

Churches all over Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and the land that became Tennessee and Kentucky rose up for the cause of liberty because this one man preached freedom of the soul. These congregations formed armies. They fought battles. They stamped out injustice.

And when modern history books speak of this time in history, they talk for a paragraph or two about the Boston Tea Party. Then, let's move on to the war of 1812.

My heart aches for young people - all people - to know about this history. Not so much because of a great man, but because of a God who worked mightily in His people, and performed wonders on their behalf. I want these stories, of patriotic Christians, to be well known!

It was for this reason I labored on this book. And worked. And saved. And cried during many a church service.

All the while, the manuscript has laid quietly on my hard drive, waiting on God's timing.

During the past few months, something in me has come alive that I thought was sleeping. Something is saying "it is time." Two dear ladies have pried out of either my mother or me the story of this book; one gave me all the money she had in her purse at the time (no small sum), and the other offered me such a large sum I declared I could not take it. She replied by giving me a few simple jobs, to 'earn' the money. I'm almost done with those jobs.

And my orange and white bank envelope, well-worn and fraying at the edges, is fat and heavy. I'm almost there.

Close enough, in fact, that I've set a goal; I want to publish by Christmas.

That, my dear readers, is thirty-some days away.

But that's not all. Here's where I need encouragement:

I brought out that dear, old manuscript last night. I hadn't looked at it in awhile - it was too saddening. As I read the first few pages, I began shaking my head.

This wouldn't do. I'd grown since I last wrote this. I could do better than this. This story deserved to be told in a manner worthy of it.

And I'm sitting here now, overwhelmed by the thought that I haven't dared to really think....yet is in my mind anyway.

I have to re-write. Or at least do some major editing.

I'm so close. I want to be close. I want to be done. But I can't, after all this time and work, send a manuscript off for publication unless it is the best I can do. I would regret it forever.

I don't know what to do. What to feel. Should I bury my face in my arms and cry? Should I burn the midnight oil for twenty days straight, until it's done? Should I give up - No, no, I will not even think that. This story was meant to be written.

But, O, it is meant to be written so much better! It is a saga, a masterpiece of God's history - it deserves to be told with skill and a master hand! I want to do better.

I feel empty. This story is not in me. Do you understand? It isn't in me. It's been so long since I started - I have other stories burning in my mind now. How can I make myself sit down and tear apart a book I started five years ago?

But I must. I cannot dare not to.

Please, tell me something. Tell me anything. Just talk to me. Tell me I can do this.

1 comment:

  1. Amber,

    I know exactly what you mean about discouragement, rewriting, editing, rewriting.... I have re-written "The Marquis' Daughter" oh so many times, and now as I head for the goal of finishing it by December 1st, I find myself struggling with little inspiration. The career of an authoress is not for the faint at heart, definitely! :-)

    However, let me encourage you. You *can* do this. God has given you the desire to write this-- and you can! I would encourage you not to pressure yourself too much with a deadline, however. Deadlines can be good, but they can also take the joy out of what you are doing and replace it with stress and anxiety. But keep writing-- that is the key!

    If you would like, I could read your manuscript and give you an opinion on it. I think we as authors always feel like we could do a little bit better (even the authors whose works have lasted-- I'm thinking particularly of E.B. White), and sometimes we can, but sometimes it's even better than we realize! So anyway, if you'd like, you can send it to me to read and I'll let you know what I think. Who knows but you may not have to tear it up and rewrite after all.

    (((BIG HUGS))) Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established (Prov. 16:3)! Don't lose heart! <3