The Relevancy of your Faith

japanesewomangivingthankstothecreatI’ve watched one or two of those reality shows that gather some of the brightest and gifted minds in the entertainment industry for a game of show; those who have fallen by fame’s wayside for one reason or another and are now attempting to make their second or third resurgence via reality TV. (The genre is a forgiving haven for those cast from the spotlight.) We are always asking, whatever happened to…

After a few painful episodes of this show and that one, I came to this realization: mere talent is not the main variable to success. Being the smartest or most gifted person in the room is become less and less a deciding indication of your escalation to fame. Do such things give you an advantage? Yes, sometimes. But often they are the greatest hindrance.

Those people that believe they are particularly bright, gifted or beautiful or have some kind of peculiar and intriguing talent usually rest in that very talent. They rely on it like an eagle does its wings. And when it fails, the fear settles in as they flutter around seeking Plan B. And no I’m not seething with jealousy or any kind of envy. I am just an observer.

Most of us have to confess our fears and insecurities upfront before we experience any kind of success. Our fears are daunting and undeniable and have to be dealt with head on. For that group of exceptional they can hide it for years behind the glossy beauty of talent and gifts. This is not to say that the rest of do not possess some kind of gift. I believe we all do. But for the majority no one hears us flawlessly playing Beethoven’s Fifth at six years of age, most of us aren’t 6’2 at 12, dunking shots off of grown men. No, for most of us we have to seek and find that place where we fit.  We have to work hard and face so much failure we threaten to quit every day.

It is here that our faith becomes the most relevant factor. It becomes the single most undeniable force; this is the fulcrum for our success. It is the Plan B for the most talented but necessary for us all.

Consider this: more than 300,000 books are published in the U.S. each year; and that is not including e-books. To sit for days, weeks, months and sometimes years at a keyboard with the sincere hope and belief that within that haystack someone besides our parents, siblings and spouse will find us takes some kind of faith. There will be many times where this feeling of ridiculousness will overwhelm you and you will question the validity of your project. And you will press through. Writer’s block will leave you stumped and confused. And you will not give up. Sometimes, you will count time vested as time wasted. You will blow this off.

And when the work is done, they will tell you that the real work hasn’t even begun. You’ve got to market that baby, they will say. You will sigh and roll your eyes and huff. Then you will get to work. You will read; how to publish a book in 30 days; 21 ways to double your Twitter followers in a week; Five thousand Fabulous Facebook Followers. A tiny voice will whisper that it is all gibberish and worthless. And you will initially be convinced to believe it (some of it will be), but quickly realize that doing nothing will result in eminent death of your project. And then your faith will push you, prod and demand from you.

And finally when you have done all that you can do your faith will compel you to release the reins. It is then you will see it clearer. Your marketing will make sense. Those who are needful to you will become more apparent. And most importantly, your faith has moved the hand of God. And He my friend is the most relevant factor of all.

The Beauty of Rejection: Examine yourself, Examine your fiction

In the perfect world we would write the perfect story, the perfect work of fiction and…boom. Editors would fight over who gets first or second rights. But is that really a perfect world or just our ego rearing its humongous bald head?  Tall Stack of Documents --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

For most of my life teachers, parents, etc. told me that wrote well. Praise like that tends to both build your confidence and inflate your ego. In reality I had some kind of gift but in the context of a classroom full of kids who would rather undergo a tonsillectomy than write anything that is not saying much.

Yes, I had a talent. It was not until I begin submitting my work that I realized it was not rare. Why editors didn’t absolutely fawn over my work was a mystery. It would take a minute for me to get it: they see tens of thousands of manuscripts each year, many from folks whose egos were as inflated as mine, and whose talents were even bigger. This was not third-grade general Ed. There was nothing general about this group.

There were plenty of rejection letters. When I finally got the offer letter for my novel I cried. I had made it. But it was all those rejections that taught me more than anything. Let me share a few of the things I’ve learned.

Giving Up is Not an Option

The rapper and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z said: Excellence is performing at a high level consistently. He goes on to say that anyone can have that hot record or be hot for a little while. But a person of excellence is performing at a high level consistently. When rejections keep coming and you keep tweaking, changing, searching for ways to make it better, your energy and processing are at their highest. You’re pushing yourself despite the urge to quit. To consistently override thoughts of disappointment and fear and hurt and push past it and towards something you know is there but do not see is a form of excellence. When I watch marathon runners I wonder at which point their bodies say enough this is where we stop. But their will urges them on. Their resolve is strengthened. And again I imagine, at some point their bodies began to scream, but their will pushes them further and closer; override, override, until they are operating in sheer will.   A rejection is just a reminder to keep pushing, you haven’t gotten there. But you will not be at rest.

Reexamines and Check the Ego

Reexamine. I began writing my novel in 2007. Spending that much time with yourself either does one of two things: gives you an inflated sense of connectedness with your own work or causes you to detest it. After a while you began to fall in love with it, sometimes in an unhealthy way. Imagine: your two-year old’s farts are brutal and the family thinks this is disgustingly hilarious; such an awful smell to come out of such a tiny, cute body. What could be funnier? You’re doubled over with laughter. And then he does it in church and the old lady sitting next to you erupts in a fit of gagging and has to be escorted out. Hmmm…not so cute anymore.

When our ‘baby’ is taken out in public others may have a different perspective. This helps us to constantly grow, reexamine our work, take out our little darlings and replace them with moving dialogue or exposition. It helps us to not fall in love with any piece of work, because most of it should be expendable if it is not working towards making our story stronger.

Confirms our status as a professional

People who only hope to one day write or who believe writing is kinda cool don’t have to worry about rejection letters—form or otherwise. Their dreams keep them in a perpetual state of hopefulness. They are the ones who always encourage you. And you really want to slap them sometimes but decide against it.  When you have a dog in the fight you get tired and discouraged and sometimes you are sure editors just don’t get it. But this simply means we are working, not sitting or wondering what it feels like to write, but working and getting our hands dirty. We feel defeat and sometimes, have to encourage ourselves hourly. But I’m finding that’s O.K. As long as we are in the running, the chances of us winning are very likely.