The most encouraging thing I know to tell any writer is this: If God has called you to write, you will be successful as long as you follow His leading—whether that results in a traditional publishing contract or not.
My “how I got published” story is atypical and is an example of the Lord taking a manuscript and putting it in the right hands at exactly the right time to provide for a young widow and her children. Once a contract was offered, the Lord also blessed the first books with sales enough to begin a career. Since the beginning of that new career over twenty years ago, I’ve often felt like I was playing catch-up with other writers I admire—the ones who know “the rules,” who study the craft, who have the creative writing degrees, and who teach at writing conferences. In my not-very-organized quest to improve my craft, I’ve stumbled on some encouraging words from other writers that I have posted near my computer as reminders:
“It’s not about talent. It’s about persistence.”
“I only write when I’m inspired, and I make sure I’m inspired every day at 9 a.m.”
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.”
I often remind myself that success in light of eternity has nothing to do with books sold. Success in light of eternity means obedience to the Audience of One. In a hundred million years it will not matter if I was published, if my name appeared on any best seller lists, if I received any writing awards. In a hundred million years, what will matter is my obedience to my Lord. If He says “well done,” then whatever happened here below was good, and I achieved success in the truest sense of that word.