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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I Believe I'm a Writer, Lord! Help My Unbelief

by James L. Rubart

I went to my first writing conference at Mt Hermon in the spring of '06, and that's where I was when the e-mail came.

It was from my friend Scott who had had a serendipitous breakfast that morning with a publisher, the one at the top of my wish list.

Scott told this person about me and that I had written a manuscript. The publisher told Scott to invite me to send in my story.

I can still remember my heart rate spiking as I read that e-mail. I thought that was it: My big break. God arranging for a chance meeting between my friend and my dream publisher. I would send in my story, the publisher would love it, and I'd have my first contract.

Didn't work out that way. The publisher e-mailed back a few days after I sent my manuscript and kindly rejected it. I was stunned. This wasn't the way the script was supposed to go.

What Do You Believe?

I stepped onto the back deck of my house in a daze. After a few minutes, Darci (my wife) came out and asked what was going on. I told her about the rejection and then waited for her response. It wasn't what I expected.

"At some point you're going to have to make a choice."

"What choice?"

"Whether you believe you're a writer or not, no matter what anyone else says, no matter if you ever get published. So what's it going to be?"

A wise woman, Darci is.

That moment changed me. Because I decided to believe. I was going to write even if no one ever published me. Even if no one read my work. Even if no one else stood beside me.

So what do you believe?

If you're reading this post, it's a safe bet to say you have a passion for writing. Then believe. It's a safe bet to say you can't keep the words inside. Then believe. It's a pretty safe assumption to think you will keep writing even if God is the only one who ever reads your work. Then believe.

You ARE a writer.

We choose to believe. Lord, help our unbelief!

Oh, You Want to Know Who the Publisher Was?

The person my friend Scott met at breakfast? It was Allen Arnold, who was then Sr VP and Publisher at Thomas Nelson.

And five years after Allen rejected me, he signed me to a five book contract. Crazy, I know.

Sure glad I decided to believe and kept writing.

How 'bout you?

James L. Rubart is the best-selling and Christy award winning author of ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, THE CHAIR, SOUL’S GATE, MEMORY’S DOOR, and SPIRIT BRIDGE (Just released!). During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps businesses and authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand. No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at


  1. What's funny is that most of the readers here are probably a lot like me. I get magazine article published, even have a regular (unpaid) column in a local print mag, I have side jobs writing the boring stuff for businesses (well paid), and have written many other pieces for blogs, e-zines, newsletters, etc. But, because I don't have a book on the shelf at Borders, I'm not a writer. Silly boy, you're a writer. Now stop feeling left out of the club and get to work.

  2. Great story and I love your wife's perspective. Thank the Lord for godly spouses who speak truth into our lives! And a wise agent once told me that the ones who get published are the ones who don't give up. No matter which shape publishing takes, it will happen for the writer who continues to press on.

    1. So few do press on, Heather as you know, which means there are fewer to compete against the closer we get.

  3. Ron's comment = brilliant perspective. Whenever people say something to me like, "But you can't make a living as a writer," I always say: "Yes, you can. I've been doing it for 32 years. Do I look like I'm starving?"

    Thanks Jim, that step of belief is so hard ... and, at least for me, I've had to make that step more than once. God knows I need to believe.

    Funny (true) story: This last Sunday we had a group of new friends over for a cookout that I organized. At one point, I heard my name mentioned in a conversation I wasn't a part of.

    Being not shy, I asked, "Are you talking about me?"

    "We were just saying what a good writer you are. The emails you sent organizing the picnic were really good."

    They were emails, for crying out loud ... but God knows, boy does He know, that I need stuff like that. Because the belief part is hard. Hard.

    1. It is hard, which makes it nice that we're all in this together.

  4. Jim, your words--and everyone else who commented--are very encouraging. Actually, so encouraging that although I've just come home from the day-job and am exhausted, I'm going to open my mss. doc as soon as I hit "publish" on this awesome blog.


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