by Xochitl Dixon
In An Introduction to Christian Writing, Ethel Herr wrote: “Writing without an audience is therapy. Writing that reaches an audience is communication.”
Though not all writers have the desire to publish, some of us feel led to share the words God gives us to write. Communicators who choose traditional publishing quickly discover that rejection is an inevitable and invaluable part of our writing journey.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that every no, not yet, and not here stings. But receiving those answers can become easier and even exciting, as God adjusts our definition of a successful communicator.
God can help us recognize the following rewards of rejection:
- Our first rejection proves we had the courage to risk taking that initial step of faith.
Modern technology provides opportunities to share our words with readers through self-publishing, blogging, or posts on social media. But if the Lord steers us toward traditional publishing online, in magazines, or in books, rejections can become signs of obedience and answers from God.
If the Lord says no, we can be sure He has reasons. Instead of giving up, we can seek support through a network of likeminded writers and ask God to help us continue to improve our craft. He’ll give us the courage and faith we need to obey when He reveals the next step He wants us to take, even if it leads to another rejection. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
- Rejection prepares us to risk failure with courage and strengthens our faith.
Failure is not a final destination. Failing can be a good thing that doesn’t need to be feared . . . when viewed as a learning opportunity that can initiate growth. Years ago, I encouraged my youngest son to try something difficult, explaining every rejection is a notch in our experience resume.
“You don’t understand, Mom,” Xavier said. “You’re used to rejection.”
After a good giggle, I assured him God can use rejection to toughen our armor on the road of preparation.
When we’re prepared to face failure, even when we’re afraid, we’re strengthening our faith-muscles every time we try again. (Hebrews 10:32-39)
- Rejection keeps us on God’s perfectly planned path.
In 2001, I asked God to help me share His truth and love to the ends of the earth. I prayed for guidance, finished my first children’s picture book and my YA novel. I accepted every submission opportunity the Lord provided. Each rejection and acceptance directed my steps toward studying nonfiction writing.
God’s deliberate delays and detours equipped me for the unexpected privilege of serving as a devotional writer for Our Daily Bread Ministries . . . fifteen years after my 2001 prayer.
That YA novel won an award for best unpublished teen contemporary fiction in 2017, but remains unpublished. That children’s picture book lost in its category in that same contest, but was contracted in 2018 and will be released on August 4, 2020.
Trusting the Lord’s preordained plan requires patience and submission to His yes and His no. Our surrender and obedience can lead toward learning and publishing opportunities we never dreamed possible, in genres we never planned to explore. (Proverbs 16:9)
- Rejections reveal and can adjust our motives.
When we place pleasing God above our desire for publication, every rejection becomes a loving redirection from the Lord. We’ll experience discouragement and will need to process disappointment. But our reactions when God doesn’t give us what we want will reveal our true motives.
As we delight in our relationship with the Lord, He changes the desires of our hearts so that we want what He wants. By inviting Him to take charge, we’re loving God and trusting He loves us, understands our weaknesses, cares about our dreams, and wants the best for us . . . even when that best includes rejection. (Psalm 37:3-4)
- Rejection helps us rely on God, as He redefines success as surrender to His will.
Working on a project, whether it’s a 230-word devotion or a 230-page manuscript, requires determination, diligence, and dependence on God. The writing process is physically and emotionally tough. I face fears, doubts, and insecurities every time I start a new project, reach the mid-point, submit, edit, and submit again. I’ve talked to multi-published and award-winning authors who assure me I’m not alone.
Every rejection reminds us of our smallness, our weaknesses, and our need for complete dependence on and submission to God. (Psalm 40:1-8)
“Success means loving God so much that we write whatever He puts on our hearts and let Him do with it whatever He designs.” (Ethel Herr, An Introduction to Christian Writing)
Praying for our readers throughout our process reminds us our purpose reaches beyond ourselves. When we worship God through writing, we can place knowing, loving, and serving Him first. If we allow Him to, the Lord will align our steps with the pace and path He has planned for us.
As traditionally published authors, we will continue to work through the wait and feel the sting of every no, not yet, and not here, no matter how much experience we gain. But we can also learn to recognize and appreciate the wonderful rewards of rejection.
Xochitl Dixon, author of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace (2019) and the children’s picture book Different Like Me (August 4, 2020), serves God as a speaker and contributing writer for Our Daily Bread (2015-Current), Guideposts’ All God’s Creatures (2018-2021), Second-Chance Dogs (2018), and God Hears Her (2017). Celebrating the differences and sameness of God’s beautifully diverse family, Xochitl promotes loving God and others as He loves us. She enjoys serving Jesus with her service dog, Callie, encouraging writers, hanging out with her husband, Alan, and sons, AJ and Xavier, and connecting with readers at www.xedixon.com.
Bad decisions, made on my own;
You would have thought I would have known,
Without assistance from the Lord,
No chance to succeed, no reward.
Bad decisions, made with a friend
Or colleague on whom I depend;
Was not sufficient to prevent
A catastrophic accident.
Bad decisions and poor advice,
Credentials that could not suffice;
I should have gone to God in prayer
And done my research so he’d share
In my decision making time,
He would have opened the sublime,
But when my life was demanding,
I leaned on my understanding.
Bad decisions made on my own;
Everyone thought I would have known,
Not to try without the Lord,
Without his assistance, no reward.
by Kevin D. Parish
Blessings cascaded down the mountain
Spreading far and wide across the land
Heaven was behind this glorious deed
God, The Holy Spirit, and Son of Man
Beautiful singing was heard all around
As the word bore witness to this wonder
Trumpets could be heard
A pleasing sound
Beneath the rolling thunder
Redemption, salvation and confession
From the lips of the sinners and the
The Trinity has come down to earth
As a new dawn crests on the day
All God’s Creatures devotional
Guideposts Books Editorial is looking for a few excellent authors to contribute to a unique annual devotional book called All God’s Creatures. We are looking for animal lovers from diverse backgrounds who can write daily devotion entries that bring together our love for animals (all kinds of creatures—not just pets) and our love for God in refreshing, inspiring, and uplifting ways.
Each devotion is about 350 words total, and includes the following elements:
- A title
- A short Scripture quote, followed by reference and Bible version, that serves as the basis of your devotion.
- A true personal story of you or someone you know and a memorable encounter with an animal that made an impact on your or his/her life with a spiritual takeaway (250 to 275 words). The best devotions will bring the reader along with you in your discovery, as if a trusted friend is sharing his or her story.
- A short closing prayer, quote, Scripture, or other encouragement. (Avoid instructing the reader, except perhaps to consider or meditate on some facet of the devotion.)
To audition, please submit three devotionals as Word or .rtf documents, using the guidelines above. Your pieces should showcase your voice, your affection for your animal subject, your approach, and your ability to communicate spiritual takeaways derived from your encounters with an animal. Be sure to include your name and contact info in each document.
If you are invited to be part of the team of writers for the All God’s Creatures devotional, you will be assigned several devotions and paid $75.00 per selected and published devotion on a work-for-hire basis. Guideposts will retain full rights to each paid devotion.
Please direct inquiries, questions, and submissions to Jon Woodhams (firstname.lastname@example.org) with All God’s Creatures Audition in your subject line. Deadline for submissions is March 12, 2020.
by Natarsha Sanders
I had the opportunity to attend the Publishing in Color conference sponsored by Writing for Your Life. I chose to attend this conference because I am a writer and I wanted to meet other writers of color. You should attend too. Here’s why:
- Build relationships with other writers.
It has been well said that writers are introverts. So, the idea of being in a room full of other introverts with a shared interest should put the introverted writer at ease. This small, intimate setting is ideal for you to glean. No worries about awkward attempts to start and/or maintain a conversation. However, you just might find someone with whom you want to exchange ideas and maintain contact. I certainly did.
- Learn how to hone in on your craft.
Your comfortable place in writing that allows you to offer your absolute best: words, sentences, prose, poems, articles, devotions, curricula. Niche. To whom are you writing? Audience. You will be strategically and systematically guided through various exercises designed to lead you to your niche and your audience. I certainly was.
- Gain access to industry experts.
Publishers, agents, and authors. Oh my! Have you ever attended a conference at which you had to wait in line for hours to get an autograph? Ask a question? Take a picture? Purchase material? Well, that will not happen at the Publishing in Color conference. Professionals with multiple decades of experience in the writing industry are at the conference to present on their area of expertise. They answer all the questions. I certainly got answers.
- Scholarships available.
There are scholarships available to offset the cost of registration for conference attendees. You need only apply. The conference conveners are so committed to helping writers of color find our voice and platform that they will help us get to the conference. I certainly appreciate it.
- Engage in one-on-one conversations.
Again. Industry experts showed up just for you. No really, they came to have individual conversations with you because they are interested in your work. At the Publishing in Color Conference you have the unique opportunity to engage in conversations that specifically address your needs. So, for the introvert who still does not want to ask a question out loud in a room of introverts, you get to ask your question in your individual session. This all happens at no additional cost! Catch? Certainly not.
by JP Robinson
Thank you Candace Waller for your feedback!
Author: Myama M. Locke
Most writers who have “day jobs”, families, and other obligations find that making time for completing writing projects and freelance writing opportunities quite the challenge. How do you find the time to entertain the muse, much less to produce quality work? As a writer, adoptive mother of two children, Social Worker, photographer, and facilitator, I have had to be very intentional about time management as well as what I will say yes and no to. I have also had to make the most of my writing and giving my best attention to the page.
I am currently working on two books within two separate genres. This requires quite a bit of intentionality and focus. I also spend a lot of time reading, which while it is helpful can be distracting. I choose to map out specific times and locations to write throughout the week, versus trying to write every day (which for me is virtually impossible). I choose mostly weekends to spend time at coffeehouses or in my office at home, finishing projects and hitting the writing process hard. Throughout the week, I free write so I can keep myself on track with both books and to satisfy the desire to write.
My children understand that quiet time is part of our home life, which helps them to tap into their own creative endeavors while I am working on my own. I have heard many writers talk about the challenges of maintaining a family, while living a creative life. I believe that being intentional with your family will help them understand and contribute in many ways to your writing life. I don’t shut my girls out of the writing process. Instead, I try to encourage them to work on self-expression through creativity. This helps me to stay focused and teaches them the importance of creativity in daily life.
Having a “day job” can either be viewed as frustrating to the writing life or par and parcel to the writing life. I choose to view it as fuel for what I am writing about. I work as a Social Worker, and many of the topics in my novel and in my non-fiction work centers around what I do in that field. When writers use their observation skills, they will find that even in the most mundane daily jobs, there is much to glean from to use in their projects.
Life happens to us all; however, so does good writing, when you are serious about paying attention to it. It is truly about intertwining the two. Let’s be intentional about our writing!
Vulnerability can be dangerous in the same way water is dangerous. Like water, vulnerability can be the source of cleansing and renewal or it can be the source of drowning and death. But there is something else that is more dangerous than taking the risk of vulnerability, and that is silence.
As an African American woman who loves my African American sistas, I have learned that we are often silent about what hurts us the most. Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes refers to this epidemic as a “Deadly Silence.” She writes:
“Perhaps nowhere in society is the StrongBlackWoman more ubiquitous than in the Christian church. The church reinforces the mythology of the StrongBlackWoman by silencing, ignoring, and even romanticizing the suffering of Black women. Rather than offering a balm to heal the wounds of Black women who cry out about their pain, the church admonishes them with platitudes such as “God won’t give you any more than you can bear” and “If He brought you to it, He’ll bring you through it.”
Acclaimed Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston was also a black woman acquainted with suffering, and she understood that we, as African Americans, could not be silent about our pain because silence would be the death of us. By swallowing the poison of our pain, we die a slow death, and for black people in America it seems as if nobody notices. As another artist wrote, “The heart dies a slow death, shedding each hope like leaves until one day there are none. No hopes. Nothing remains.”
Knowing the pain, history, violence, and silence that have shaped the African American narrative infuses how I read the Scriptures. I come from a marginalized and oppressed people group that was enslaved for more than three hundred years, so I try to imagine the helplessness and hopelessness that the Hebrew people felt as an entire generation of their boys were thrown into the Nile River. What would be worse: knowing that the actual genocide took place, knowing that people in positions of power in the empire stood by and said nothing, or knowing that nothing would be done about this loss of innocent lives—that justice would not be served?
This is a painful narrative that is quite familiar to African Americans. Murder by the state. Silence. Then nothing. The heart dies a slow death. The painful reality of this death emotionally cripples us, and black people have been conditioned to say, “Thank you,” and take our lethal doses with a smile.
But I am not without hope. We see from Moses’ story that God hears the cries of the oppressed. God enters our pain, through our suffering, even in the silence. If healing is to come, then this pain must be named and confronted. We cannot look away. With every truth-telling moment, we can better discern what these moments reveal about our history, our authentic selves, our leadership journey, and our hope for a better future. Only then can we challenge each other to join in God’s great work of justice, redemption, and reconciliation. If healing is to come, then this pain must be named and confronted.
*Taken from A Sojourner’s Truth by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson. Copyright (c) 2018 by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com