When I finished my first trade novel, Georgia On Her Mind, and started to write the acknowledgements, I wasn’t prepared for the flood of emotion.
I sat at my computer and wept as I typed each word. From the contract to publication, it’d been two years. I’d contracted two more trades since I’d signed for Georgia On Her Mind and they were due to release not long after Georgia, so I was “on my way.”
But the labor and emotion of each book, the journey with writer friends, editors, agents, my friends and family, and husband came into clear focus as I typed my acknowledgements. I poured out every ounce of gratitude and love to every one who smiled at me or gave me a nod of encouragement along the way … I was overwhelmed.
Without their support, I wouldn’t have made it. I felt like a green and unskilled writer who was more lucky than blessed with any kind of talent.
I was scared because this book was really the beginning of my dreams. Would I make it or realize my deepest fears? “You can’t write!” Or “Readers will hate this!”
When I wrote to my third grade teacher, who probably had no recollection of me (if she was even still alive), I figured I’d gone too far for a l’il ol’ book acknowledgement.
What I realized as I began to thank people for helping me was how not-so-solo my writing journey had been.
Writing is a solitary life. We sit at our desks and face a blank page with nothing but our own imagination as a resource and we feel we are alone against the world and the giant publishing machine.
Is my imagination good enough to attract readers? Is it good enough to run with the “least” of any published author? What if I’m a one-book wonder? Or worse, a one-book flop?
Though we feel alone so much of the time, we are not. The Lord is always with us, if not our family and friends.
Gratitude blooms in our hearts when we see how many have upheld our hopes as we trod the publishing path.
Gratitude keeps us from jealousy and envy — two other evils of our field. Stirrings of why, how and “why not me” can invade our hearts and steal our joy. Listen, we’re all going to read books that are way-better than ours. And we’re going to read books not as good but get way-more accolades. We can do nothing about who gets published and honored when, why and how. All we can do is keep our hearts right before the Lord and keep our eyes on Him.
Song of Solomon 1:15 tells us, ”How beautiful you are, my darling. How beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves.”
Doves do not have peripheral vision. They cannot look to the right or left—only straight ahead. Jesus is calling things that aren’t as though they are. “Keep your eyes on Me. See, I call you beautiful. You have no need to look to the right or left to get your esteem or confidence! Have a solo gaze on Me, and I will give you all you need.”
There’s no time like now to fix your gaze literally on Jesus. Publishing is a rough game and if you look around too much, you’ll start sinking into despair, jealousy and envy. It’s won’t be pretty. You’ll loose the very joy and gift God gave you.
So, start by being grateful. Whether you’re published or not, write your acknowledgements as if they were going in your first or next book. Thank everyone who’s aided you along the way. Be grateful for every little wink and nod of encouragement. Right down to your third grade teacher.
As we close out 2011, overcome any despair or discouragement with purposeful joy and gratitude. You’ll see the difference in your heart and mind.
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, bestselling author. A graduate of Ohio State, she spent 17 years in the corporate software world before leaving to write full-time. She is the past president of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and now serves as an advisor. She’s married and lives in central Florida.