PATIENCE IS BETTER THAN PRIDE
by Jacki McGuyer 4/20/2007 / Writing
My Dearest Writers,
I usually write in a style less personal. Today the Holy Spirit leads me to write as if you are sitting across the desk from me--as if you and I are speaking face-to-face. I want to talk to you about a part of our writing our readers will never know about. The challenging work, which separates the professional from the armature most of us will face at least once in our careers.
Let me set the scene:
A few days ago, I proudly sent a manuscript I've been working on (a manuscript very dear to my heart) to my trusted critique partner. Imagine how I felt when, within a very short time, she sent it back with this message. "I can't even finish reading this. This isn't even your voice. What happened to you? I suggest you reread and rewrite."
I live in Texas. My critique partner lives in Louisiana. I've never met her face-to-face, but we've worked together for years. We talk on the phone and pass pictures of our families to each other by e-mail. I love her like a sister. I wouldn't even send out a query letter without letting her see it first. I trust her.
How could she call my Baby Ugly?
I took a walk. I prayed. I thought about the manuscript. Somewhere deep down, I knew my crit partner was telling the truth, but I couldn't come up with enough adjectives to cover the reasons I didn't want to believe her or rewrite. Tiring, demanding, arduous, grueling, complicated, tricky. Writing always came easy to me. This was going to be just plain HARD WORK.
I decided my crit partner had a right to her opinion, but others might think differently. I set My Baby aside and began to work on other projects, like promoting my new release. (Talk about challenging.) However, a little voice inside my head (guess who?) just wouldn't leave me alone. I couldn't stop thinking about all the research I had done on the Civil War--on Richmond Virginia. My novel, A Letter Home, is going to be a Civil War drama. All of a sudden, the Holy Spirit nudged me. "What you have now is a Civil War history book, and a great big hunk of Pride."
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. (ECC 7:8 NIV)
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18 NIV)
Do you see a picture developing here? I saw one, and I didn't like it. Self--Self--Self. I could see a big picture of Jacqueline McGuyer hung on the wall over my computer. I believe I prayed for some of those things on the list above, maybe not in actual words, but remember the Lord knows your heart.
After some sincere truthful prayer, I decided my crit partner hit the nail on the head. The manuscript, My Baby, is double ugly, but salvageable. This isn't a rewrite; it's a reconstruction. Rather than tiring, demanding, arduous, grueling, complicated and tricky, it's challenging and fun. Better than anything, it a wonderful learning experience.
The most important lesson I've learned the--one I'd like to impart to you, my Dearest Christian Writer, is this. Are we trying to impress an editor or an agent? Yes, of course. Are we trying to touch our readers with more than just a good story--are we trying to build faith and change lives?
Are we always trying to please, the Lord?
We need the Lord's input on all those levels, we can't do it without Him. We must have the Holy Spirit control our hand or we can't reach those who need our words. How can He reach us if we can only think about ourselves and get all bound up in that big hunk of PRIDE? Pride is the Devil's toy.
Show Don't Tell
Pray before you write.
Close your eyes and picture the Lord's hand on yours.
Feel His breath in your ear as He whispers what to write.
Picture that acceptance letter as you pull it from the envelope.
Picture that person pulling your book from the shelf, and the life you may change with your words.
God has given you the gift of writing, but you can't please Him without His grace, you can't move without the power of his Holy Spirit. If you humbly focus on Him, he will mold the talent He gave you like a piece of clay.
With every book she writes, it is Jacqueline's ambition to grow and be faithful to her readers. She aspires to give them an entertaining story to dazzle and provide honest and thoughtful information to keep them coming back for more. Above all, she is a Christian and her faith guides her pen.