Saturday, November 29, 2014

Will They Like My Writing?

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. For relaxation, he writes westerns. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com.


Every writer has doubts.

Again. EVERY writer is mired in doubt.

You and I are sitting at my kitchen table, talking this through. We both have doubts. Sure, we’ve a few writing credits to our name. A blog here. Maybe a published book or a few articles. I’ve won an award or two. I share that one writer I spoke with is on his twelfth book and called me because he’s filled with doubts.

But not like our hero writer. Not like the one we emulate. Because she’s got it all together.

Ahhh, forget it. It’s been a brutal day at work, and I’m in no mood to write or talk, so I’m going for a jog. I'll talk to you in a bit. You head home.

My playlist rocks and rolls, pumping creative juices.

Cool winds brush across my skin, and my feet beat a steady rhythm to the music, awakening joy in my soul. But fears about my writing drive a frozen spike through any happiness. Worthless, pointless, unskilled and readerless—the doubts drift through my mind. My running slows and I lower my head. Writing is everything to me.

Then a song jars from my absurdly awesome playlist. Muppets.

Mahna Mahna. Do doo be-do-do.

A fun song, no doubt, but not for this run. I reach up to skip it.

Mahna Mahna. Do do-do do.

DON’T CHANGE THIS SONG

I pause. It’s God speaking. The song continues.

Mahna Mahna. Do doo be-do-do.

I hold my thumb on the clicker. LEAVE IT

Come on, God. I have some amazing music on this playlist. Some Christian tunes even.

LISTEN

I stop running and listen. There’s not a real word in the entire song. Mahna Mahna is just dribble. Worthless, pointless, unskilled, and amazing dribble. How could the writer of that silly song know the meaningless words would make millions upon millions of people happy?

My mouth opens wide. I play the song again as I sprint home to call you.

Listen, I say in a rush. It’s not about the work and the edits and the story. Sales aren’t our problem. Reviews…pshhh—we can’t control them—and they weren’t written for us, anyway. In fact, it’s not about us at all. God’s given us a passion. It’s inside us, and He wants us to write. That’s it. There’s nothing more. Sure, we’re going to do our best to learn the craft and market and stuff, but in the end, who knows how our writing will influence people? Yep, that’s right. Only God.  

Good point, you say. You end the call, sit down, and push away your doubts. Because you’re a writer. And the rest is in His hands.

12 comments:

Ane Mulligan said...

You're so right, Peter! One reader said she was encouraged by my main character, because if the character could overcome ADHD, so could she. But I hadn't written the character with ADHD. Never mentioned it. Yet, this reader saw in the character a trait and related to it. That is pure God using my writing to reach someone. I say it over and over again: People let down their guard when they think they're being entertained. Then when they least expect it, our stories can reach out and touch hearts and transform lives. And that's why we write.

Terrie Todd said...

Wow, do we ever need this terrific reminder! Your article prompted me to check out the history and composer of this tune. Who among us could have answered the question, "What catchy song is Piero Umiliani most known for?" (I'd never heard of the guy.) Which hints at a whole 'nuther lesson for writers, eh?

Lisa Phillips said...

That hero writer? The one you emulate? She feels the fear. Then she kicks cabinets. Then she gets back to work.

Peter Leavell said...

That is so awesome, Ane! I love hearing stories about how God uses our fiction. Keep up the great work!

Peter Leavell said...

Now are you going to be hearing the tune in your head all day? I had to look it up too. Historical writers just have to know, I guess!

Peter Leavell said...

EXACTLY! She's done it dozens of times before. But maybe the magic is gone for this one...

Elaine Cooper said...

So good to hear the doubts and insecurities of fellow writers because I so identify with the fear that. perhaps, the inspiration has left the building. So glad it's from the Lord and we can trust Him to guide us through the next step. And the next.

Peter Leavell said...

Sometimes for me, doubt is debilitating! (and you're on the hero list, Elaine!)

Anonymous said...

Insightful, Peter, and so like God to get straight to the (simple) point. And fascinating experience from Ane. Love those God-gifts. I must remember to look more for them. Thank you, writer!

Mary Kay

Peter Leavell said...

Thanks for stopping by, Mary Kay! If you get a chance, Ane's book is funny! She's a great writer!

Elaine Cooper said...

That is humbling and an honor. Thank you, Peter. And don't let the evil one debilitate you. Know who you are in Christ. :)

Peter Leavell said...

Great point!