Friday, July 13, 2018

Am I Purposed to Write?

by Marcia Moston @MarciaMoston

I like to encourage people, to inspire them by sharing examples of others who have done something of interest. But today, I’m taking the “misery loves company” approach for those of you who may have returned from a conference high in hopes but are now scraping bottom, or those of you who can’t get even your mother to buy your book. Take heart. Here’s what a few giants who have trod that road before you have to say:

“The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.”John Steinbeck 

When a book dealer returned over 700 copies of one of his books, Henry David Thoreau wrote, ‘I now have a library of nearly 900 volumes, over 700 of which I wrote myself.”

While visiting a zoo, award-winning journalist Paul Dickson noticed saw a sign over a poisonous snake exhibit that said every year in America 1906 people were bitten by a poisonous snake. Dickson quipped that he had written a “snakebite book” because fewer people had bought his book that year than had been bitten by a snake.

Okay, so maybe that didn’t help. Most of you know the reasons for those rejection notices and low sales (there’re plenty of posts on this blog that offer industry advice and encouragement), but I want to consider another angle: 

Your purpose. The one you are uniquely designed for. The one you are best at doing.What if your real gift is as a supporter, or a connector or a teacher? How can you use your writing to that purpose?

I know a woman who has attended nearly every Blue Ridge writing conference for the past eight years. She is diligent to learn the trade and pursue the recommended paths, yet I don’t know if she has published a single word. But what she does do with whole-hearted generosity is promote others. She links posts, shares the successes and news reportsof writers and puts her money where her mouth is by buying their books and writing reviews.  Her name may not be on the front cover butI’m certain it’s indelibly written on the back page of many an author’s life. 

I’m not saying she shouldn’t continue writing if that’s her heart’s desire, but she’s an example of someone who is using her diligently acquired connections, information and skill sets for the purpose she seems so suited to. 

Your purpose might not look like you want it to. This idea flies in the face of doing whatever makes us happy, but it’s worth considering.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle famously killed off Sherlock Holmes because Doyle wanted to write historical novels, which he considered to be “higher writing.” But he had created a character that wouldn’t die. The public mourned Sherlock’s death relentlessly, going so far as to wear black armbands and cancel magazine subscriptions. After several years, Doyle had to resuscitate his hero, living with him until his own death more than twenty years later.  

English evangelist, George Muller, known for his ministry to orphans, had fervently wanted to be a missionary, but every time he tried, God blocked his way. Eventually Muller embraced the work he knew God had purposed for him. Over the course of his life, Muller cared for over 10,000 orphans. Although a poor man, he left a legacy of giving hundreds of thousands of dollars —much of it to support missionaries on the fields he never got to go to himself.

You don’t know what God will do with even the most seemingly insignificant role.

Look up the story of Adolfo Kaminsky. Kaminsky was a Jewish teenager who worked at a dry cleaner. When his family needed forged papers to flee Hitler’s Europe, Kaminsky learned that the skills he’d acquired in stain-removal were valuable for making forged documents. Kaminsky stayed behind and applied his talents to forging papers that saved thousands of lives.

So what is your writing purpose?I am aware I have dragged an elephant into the room because the answer is beyond the scope of this post. Personality profiles, gift tests and life-coaching materials abound on the Internet. But here’s a start for examining your purpose:
  • Prayer—be confident that God is a rewarder of those who seek him. 
  • Passion—be specific about what interests you. For example, if you like to write, do you prefer to do it by informing, inspiring, entertaining, scaring? 
  • People—be generous in supporting others in your areas of influence.
And finally, 
  • Presence—be available behind the scenes and visible before them, because you never know what gets noticed, when, or by whom. You never know what higher purpose those seemingly insignificant efforts will be used for. I always get a chuckle when I think of Job’s words, “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!” (Job 19:23)
Hey Job—I’m happy to say they were and they’ve encouraged many a drooping soul— for about the past few thousand years or so. The purpose for your suffering has served others well. May it be so with the work of our own hands.


Marcia Moston—author of the award-winning Call of a Coward-The God of Moses and the Middle-class Housewife—has written columns and features for several magazines and newspapers. She has served on the faculty of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and currently teaches her true love—memoir and creative nonfiction—at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on the Furman campus in South Carolina.


  1. Thank you Marsha for this encouragement to form a perspective.

  2. My journey to publication took close to 12 years. I spent those years doing what the other writer in your post did. And when I finally got published, all those I’d helped and reviewed gave back to me ten-fold. Enjoy the journey is what I tell others. And remember to factor God’s timing into their timetable. �� Great post!

  3. I am still not sure of my purpose, but I love working with kids and started leading writing workshops at my local library for teens and tweens. Inspiring creativity is a true joy for me.

  4. Because of purpose, I have not quit.
    Thanks for the encouragement and wise words.
    Nice post to start the weekend!

  5. Thank you! Such good words of encouragement and I love your sense of humor that comes through. Recognition and financial success is never a good measure of what is valuable. A blogger I follow shared that God reminded her: "You worry about the depth of your ministry and I'll worry about the breadth." He is able to be trusted with the results!

    1. Thanks Shelia. Yes indeed he is able to be trusted with the results.

  6. Wonderful words! Thank you for the encouragement!

  7. Loved it, Marcia. God has told me (well, in various forms, by various means) 'Just do your job and let me do mine, would ya?' I'm a control freak--in my own way. That's why I love writing. LOL

  8. Wonderful. Enjoyed every word. Laughed at the Steinbeck quote. Thank you. I needed a laugh.

  9. Thanks for this post. I too have wanted to write "The Great American Novel." Instead God led me to write articles for several newspapers for years. I've also written lots of children's stories that my granddaughters and many kids at our church have loved. (I hope to publish some in a book one day.) I love mentoring young writers as well. And I could be that gal who went to so many conferences and now supports writers and their books.
    God has also give me a ministry of writing encouraging notes and letters to put in birthday cards. (I do this for the people at my church.) I've received so many thanks, that I know this simple thing is God's leading.
    So..... like you said, maybe your role is not to write a novel, but trust HIM in whatever you do.