Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Life Lesson From a Writer’s Journey


by Cindy K. Sproles @CindyDevoted

This post won’t be the usual “writing” blog post for several reasons. 1) There’s a life lesson here. 2) It’s about me. 

This isn’t your standard learning post, but then it is. Finding a beginning without sounding trite or selfish is difficult—bear with me.

I began my writing journey some twenty-four years ago, and it has been and still is an uphill battle— one I am not alone on. Any writer who chooses writing as a career is in for a steep climb. But what I hope you can learn from this post is that persistence and determination pay off.

When I began my career, I worked 40-50 hours weekly as a vet surgery tech. I had four boys and a husband at home and what some would consider a small farm of pets. Time was of the essence. It wasn’t easy to get in writing time, but I decided that, amid all my giving to others, this was my giving to me, so I rolled out of bed every morning at 5:00 a.m. That one hour a day was quiet and uninterrupted. I could write, and I did.

I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, which introduced me to a career. Learning the basics while struggling to find some form of affirmation that I even had an inkling of ability that would warrant continuing didn’t come quickly. It took time. I wrote, learned, and received my share of rejections—but I kept at it.

There was even a point where my writing peers told a friend they weren’t inviting me into their critique group because “she isn’t ready.” That stung. I thought friendship was deeper than “being ready.” And how could I “get ready” without feedback to help? So, I knuckled down and put in the work. 

I had articles published along the way and won a few conference contests, which gave me a little confidence, but like anything, there are three times the number of losses for every win. Though disappointing, I had to remember the prayer I continually prayed. “Lord, the work and the glory will be yours. Let me be a writer.” Now, my ministry partner fussed at me for that prayer. “You’re not trusting the gifts given to you by the Father. He has gifted you this ability.” And though I couldn’t argue that fact, I wanted to show God that the gift He’d given me was not taken for granted and that any success would be His through me. Let me be a writer. And—He did.

God answered my prayers and gifted me my first novel through Kregel Publications seven years after I began writing—the first year of the Selah Awards. The book was a hit out of the gate. Sales were great and it earned out its advance in the first month. My agent, friends, and publisher encouraged me to enter it into the Selahs. So I did. I was thrilled when it finaled and took a kick to the gut when it did not win. 

Life Lesson One: My prayer came back to mind. The success and glory will be yours. Let me be a writer. God answered that prayer to the tee.

The writing hill grew steeper as I moved ahead. Could I turn out another book as successful as the first? Could God use it, or more so, would He use it? Then bam. Two brain surgeries hit right in the middle of the publisher’s edits. For months, I could barely keep my thoughts straight. My short-term memory waned, and I lost my equilibrium and 60% of my hearing. Still, we finished the book, and it did well. I entered contests and won some, but I only finaled in the Selahs once again.

Things were looking up in my career, but contracts were challenging to secure, not because of my skill but because of the numbers game. Though sales were very good, publishers wanted MORE. Still, I kept at it through rejections and frustrations.

Life Lesson Two: Just because you succeed once doesn’t mean the road will be easy. People demand more of you. Are you willing to bear the stripes of rejection? 

All this is to sum up one major point. If being a writer is what you want, will you bear the stripes of rejection because they will come? And come again.

Have I stuck in the knife and twisted, told you the bitter news that writing is hard and that success is slim? It’s essential to realize that success as a writer isn’t just handed to you. It’s earned. It doesn’t come fast or without failure. Writing is not all glam and accolades. It’s an industry and a career, and the spots are limited to fill, but are you willing to put in the work?

This year, after the birth of five novels, I reached the summit—the accolade I’d worked for happened. The name that has followed me since high school, Consistently Second Cindy, crumbled at the feet of those who held it over my head for 48 years.

Life Lesson Three: “My timing is perfect. Love, Your Heavenly “Father.

If you gain nothing from this post other than publishing is hard, I have failed to convey the point. If you want to be a writer, the accolades are not what you reach for, but you reach for learning the craft. You stretch for the determination and wherewithal to strive to be better. You don’t quit because you final, and you definitely don’t stop after the win. The work is just beginning because people expect more. God doesn’t expect more. He expects your best. That is what this post is about. The words to an old hymn: Trust and obey, for there’s no other way… These words are what your life and your road in this publishing industry should reflect. That should be all the wins you need.

Stick to it. Work hard. Learn. Give to others through your experience. Teach. Share. Pray. And finally, wait. Your time will come, and it will be sweet like honeysuckle. 

TWEETABLE

Cindy K. Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. Having served for a number of years as a managing editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and Ironstream Media, Cindy now works as a mentor, coach, and freelance editor. She is the co-founder of Writing Right Author Mentoring Services with Lori Marett and she is the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference. Cindy is also the co-founder of Christian Devotions Ministries and WWW.CHRISTIANDEVOTIONS.US, as well as WWW.INSPIREAFIRE.COM. Her devotions are in newspapers and magazines nationwide, and her novels have become award-winning best-selling works. She is a popular speaker at conferences and a natural encourager. Cindy is a mountain girl, born and raised in the Appalachian mountains, where she and her husband still reside. She has raised four sons and now resorts to raising chickens where the pecking order is easier to manage. You can visit Cindy at WWW.CINDYSPROLES.COM or www.wramsforwriters.com.

6 comments:

  1. Amen, Cindy. Thanks for sharing these lessons. If we don't write for God, our writing will be empty.

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    1. Awww, thanks. Just things I've learned that I thought were beneficial.

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  2. You are so right, Cindy! Thank you for your encouragement. It means the world to me! Pray you and your Prince are well blessed!

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  3. Thanks so much. Glad you liked it. And thank you for the prayers.

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  4. Beautiful life lessons. Thank you. I love seeing how He answered your prayer. And gave you the grace to remain faithful, to persevere. And all glory to God. It is my prayer always. We sing a beautiful motet, non nobis Domine by William Byrd, in our choir. Psalm 113:9 Nōn nōbīs, Domine, nōn nōbīs, sed nōminī tuō dā glōriam. Translation: Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name give the glory.

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  5. Thank you. Glad it was encouraging.

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