Confessions of a Writer Turned Author
By Chrissy M. Dennis
“Try not. Do…or do not. There is no try.”
Ah; words to live by, and this particular pearl of wisdom is among my favourites. While I wish I could say I’m quoting some prestigious philosopher like Descartes or an academic anomaly like Einstein, I’m not.
These words come from Yoda, the Jedi Master himself.
Yeah, that outs me as a nerd, and I’m not ashamed, but I do believe there are some nuggets of truth behind this.
Let me explain.
I’m a writer, and I’m pretty sure I was born that way. I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t making up stories or jotting them down on whatever I could find. I’d say it was more of a need than a hobby, or maybe it was both. After all, can something as essential as breathing or sleeping be considered a hobby? I’ll leave you to puzzle that one out.
Either way, I never really imagined I’d do anything with my writing. Publishing wasn’t an idea that crossed my mind until high school, and even then, I rejected it outright. I mean seriously, who in the world would be interested in what I have to say?
If you’re a writer, I’m guessing you’ve asked yourself that question at least once.
Oh trust me, I may have stuck my nose up at the idea of publishing, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t already dreaming about it. Sure, I wanted to see my words in print. Of course I wanted to share my stories with the world, but too many chains were holding me back: doubt, fear, low self-esteem, worthlessness. You can imagine the mind-numbing thoughts spiralling through my mind:
“How do I know if my writing is any good?”
“No one would find my stories worth reading.”
“It’s better if I just keep it to myself; rejection would suck too much.”
But here’s the clincher: how would I ever know the answers to these questions if I didn’t at least give it a shot?
So, I had a book under my belt: The Lion Cubs, I called it, and it was filled with passion, love, and a message I believed with my whole heart. I knew God had planted this story inside me, though I didn’t have a clue why. Publication? I didn’t know if that was the road God wanted for me. Sure, I believed in the message behind my novel, but was it anywhere near decent enough to publish?
Well, I had no idea, but decided to ship my manuscript off to several publishers and agencies.
I was rejected by them all.
Rejection stings, my friends.
So maybe I should have just given up, but that’s not the end of my story.
On his blog “Helping Leaders Leverage Influence”: http://michaelhyatt.com/, Michael Hyatt speaks about the difference between trying and doing. He says, “You either do something or you don’t do it. Trying is really the same as not doing it. It just makes it easier for us to let ourselves off the hook when we fail.”
Think of it this way: when I tried to get published and failed, I could have easily fallen back on a cushion of, “at least I can say that I tried.”
Doing requires commitment. It changes the attitude from I’ll try to get published to I will get published.
So it meant doing it again, and again, and again, and receiving another rejection letter, and another, and another, crushing my spirit more and more.
But refusing to give up! Doing, not trying!
Then one day I sent my manuscript to Word Alive Press for their 2011 Free Publishing Contest, thinking “why not?”
Less than a year later, I held my first printed copy of The Lion Cubs in my hands. There I was, a published author.
Because I refused to give up.
Because I decided to do something, not just try something.
If you have a story and you want it published, don’t let those harsh voices tear you to pieces (you know the ones I mean). Instead, make a decision. Will you be a tryer or a doer?
Hey, maybe you’ll get a dozen rejection letters before you’re signed. Maybe even 100. Maybe you’ll be lucky and get published on your first try. Maybe you’ll win a publishing contest. It’s going to be different for everyone but I know from experience that persistence and a prayerful attitude works wonders. It’s worked for me twice now. After nearly 60 rejection letters over a year and a half, my second novel has just been accepted for publication. All because I made a decision to heed the advice of a crazy Jedi Master, and “try not. Do.”
About this Contributor:
Chrissy M. Dennis is 29 years old and has recently obtained her Masters of Divinity in Youth and Family Ministry from Briercrest College and Seminary in Saskatchewan, Canada. In her late teen years, Chrissy felt the call of God to minister to the needs of youth in a changing North American culture, providing support and biblical teaching to those lost in the haze of worldviews counter to Jesus’ call for the church. Chrissy’s first novel, The Lion Cubs was published by Word Alive Press. By the Lord’s leading, Chrissy trusts that her books will be used for the glory of God and the growth of his kingdom through the healing work of the gospel.
Learn more about Chrissy on her Facebook Page and blog