Today is the start of Holy Week. I think it’s an important time to talk about sacrificial gifts. Here is a blog I wrote five years ago. I can’t think of a more fitting one for this week.
Many years ago at a writer’s conference, an editor shared that the saddest thing to her was seeing an author, year after year, still clutching the same dog-eared manuscript to her chest, pitching it to anyone who would listen. Gulp!
I got to thinking about that because I got a fabulous multi-book offer today for one of my almost-debut authors.
Guess what? It wasn’t the first full book I had pitched for her. That one may never see the light of day. It wasn’t the second full book, though I love that one and still hope that someday it will be published. It wasn’t her third fully fleshed-out idea either. Nor was it the series I’m so excited about, though that may be down the road. I guess I’d say this was her fifth or sixth– some of those partially written and two or three fully written. I’m guessing she may have written half a million words before she hit this stunning proposal that saw two top publishers vying for it. That’s sacrificial writing.
Do you see the difference? The author who came to the same conferences with the same manuscript was treating her book as an idol of sorts. If you asked her about it she would say, “But I love this story. This is my finest work.” She couldn’t lay it down and write another book.
My soon-to-be-published author refused to treat her books as idols. If one didn’t “take,” she was willingly ready to lay that manuscript down and start another one. It didn’t mean she was any less committed to her stories than the other author. She just knew that so much of success has to do with the right idea at the right time. And with each book her writing was polished. Her sacrificial writing paved the way for her ministry.
You may have noticed I am using theological terms here. I know our blog community will understand. We need to recognize any idols in our life and in our writing and lay them at the foot of the cross. A hard sacrifice for sure– a writing sacrifice.
Here are some of the things that may give us a hint that some sacrificial writing is in order. Why don’t you play the agent here for a change. Pick one. Tell us. . . what would you say to the following? (I left the comments from five years ago, because there is real wisdom in them.)
This book is the book of my heart.
But this book is the first in a series of five books and I have them all written.
This is the very book God has put on my heart to write.
I know everyone has passed on this book but I’ve rewritten and it’s much better. Can you shop it again?
Confession: This was a difficult blog to write because we all hold tight to our creations. I know as an agent I find it hard to give up when I’ve invested in a book I love. But just as I need to search my motives for those books I can’t give up, we all need to check ourselves that our writing continue to be a sacrifice– a gift– and never an idol.