Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Lesson in Humility...and Perserverance

Several weeks ago I entered three different writing contests, submitting portions of my completed fiction novel, Saved by a Stranger. I have tried not to think about them too much, but just keep writing and editing. 

Today I received feedback from the first contest. I was not a finalist.They were so nice about it, though, and wrote the nicest email note. Attached to that were the comments from the three judges who reviewed my submission. 

It was like a train wreck - I didn't want to look, but I had to...

There were things they liked:  good grammar, a nice level of suspense, a good 'voice' and some playfulness in my main character. So far so good. One judge even went so far as to say that I had a really good story. Yea!!! I loved that part. 

Well, you know what comes next. They don't call them weaknesses, the call them opportunities to improve, and there were a lot of them: too much back story, too much telling and not showing, head -hopping (I'm working on that one!). 

I had many and varied reactions. I was happy to have someone point out a problem that I knew was there but couldn't pinpoint and didn't know how to fix. I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of editing and re-working I need to do. I was embarrassed that I had turned it in at all, and schooled on the necessity of professional editors. 

And, for a brief moment I even thought that this was probably God's way of telling me that writing was not in my future. At least fiction writing. That made me sad. 

Then God just nudged my heart a little and asked me if I was quitting just because I got some objective feedback. Hmm. 

I've just finished reading and blogging about audacious faith and prayers, and where was that audacious faith now? God never said I wouldn't have to work hard to see those prayers answered. 

He also never said that I knew everything already and that my skill was completely honed to perfection. It's not!

In my heart I know that I have a lot to learn about writing fiction stories. I have a good foundation and some strong skills to build on, but that is only the beginning. 

The book of Proverbs is full of teachings about heeding instruction:

13:13  "He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but 
he who respects a command is rewarded."

19:20  "Listen to advice and accept instruction and
in the end you will be wise."

Here is what Peter has to say about humility:

5:5-6  "Young men, in the same way be submissive
to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves
with humility toward one another, because, God opposes
the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves,
therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may 
lift you up in due time."

There are many other pertinent verses but those are a good start. It's enough to remind me that I need to be teachable and receptive to the wisdom and guidance of those who have traveled this road before me. 

I also need to remember that the important thing is not the outcome - my outcome. The teachable moments with God are those that I am anticipating right now. I must start again and learn and work and tear down and rebuild. I must continue to seek his blessing - to seek him. 

This is but one step along the way. It will, I hope, be a life-long process. I would love to make writing a full-time job, but to do that I have to accept the whole process. It will include frustration, elation, fears, tears, anger, despair...all the human emotions.

I pray that through it all, there will also be evidence of a deep and growing faith in the hand of God working in me, and the heart of God loving me. 

It's your turn: how have you experienced this in your life? How is God seeking to hone not only your skills but your faith? 

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