My “State of the Writer” Address
I figure it’s about time to write a “State of the Union” address as a writer. My last book has been out almost two months, and I’m getting a few “So what’s your next project?” questions from readers.
So…What am I doing next? Writing another series? Sitting back and raking in all the dough I’ve collected from my first two series? Wrangling through a movie deal with a big Hollywood producer?
No, no, and no.
Here’s the deal: I love writing. I enjoyed every minute of writing the six books God has allowed me to have published. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be picked up by a publisher as amazing as Thomas Nelson. I am humbled and honored and elated to have been able to work with them and to get know others who are seeking to honor God through the words that they write. I have been amazed that people actually paid money to read my words, and that some of them actually liked those words enough to buy more books and even write me and let me know how God used my words to change their lives.
BUT…this is a tough time to be a writer. First, there are millions of us, all trying to get our words out there. Brick and mortar bookstores are dying, and online bookstores are
overwhelming, carrying, as they do, all those millions of books. Also, books are cheap. Or free. And I confess, I take full advantage of the Kindle Daily Deal and my local libraries – I read too much and too quickly to buy most books! So publishers have a hard time selling books when the market is so flooded and the product is so cheap.
Second, being a writer isn’t my full-time job. I love teaching. It is what God has called me to do. Working face-to-face with students, investing in them spiritually and academically is my calling. Writing, for me, was always an extension of that calling.
However, to be able to really make it as a writer, it is necessary to “quit the day job”. Most of the really successful writers are professional writers. It is what they do for a living. They spend hours a day on their craft. They attend workshops and conferences and have writer’s groups that they lead and are part of. They take ownership of their own marketing, knowing the publisher can only do so much. They recognize this is a tough business, and they recognize that the actual writing is just part of what is necessary to be a success.
So…I haven’t really “made it” as a writer. My books have sold all right, but not enough. And most publishers don’t want to publish someone with a history of “all right” sales. They, understandably, are in the business of making a profit. And, while I would love to keep writing, I don’t love it enough to stop doing what I love even more: teaching.
I’m not quitting. I can’t. I have too many ideas and writing is too much of an outlet for me. I HAVE to write! But will I have another book out anytime soon….? Probably not.
I have always clung to Francine Rivers’ quote that writing is another form of worship. I don’t need to have works published to be able to worship my Savior through my words. So I will keep writing, keep posting here, keep working on stories. I will keep doing what God has called me to do, how He has called me to do it. I will rejoice with those writers whose calling it is to work at their craft full-time. And I will do better at buying some of their books instead of waiting for them to go on sale as a KDD!
I am grateful for those who have allowed me to be in this amazing writers’ world: the publisher, editors, marketers, bloggers, reviewers, and, of course, readers. For a kid who avoided Honors’ English classes in school because it was just too much work — having close to half a million published words is a feat that is only attributable to the God who loves to demonstrate His strength through our weakness.