Encouragement

The Damaged Author

Anyone can easily identify a person who has been damaged by life and in need of help.

The same is true with damaged authors.

If you are in this category, writing about your experiences and the lessons learned can be both cathartic and spiritually fruitful, but taking a damaged-life perspective into the professional world of book publishing will rarely work for anyone.

If you know someone who is discouraged, angry, bitter and living a tortured life, you should think twice about suggesting they publish a book for commercial purposes. Write it, yes. Publish it to the world, no.

Think of it this way, would you suggest to someone who us struggling with how others see them, to venture into a work where criticism and judging are part of the daily experience?

It would be like suggesting someone with an eating disorder enter an eating contest.

Bad idea.

About fifteen years ago when attending a national Christian conference, a woman approached and handed me a proposal for her book. I had never met her before that moment.

Her book proposal was a difficult tale of unspeakable abuse from her childhood by male relatives, even her father. Hers was the kind of past resulting from the presence of sin and evil in the world.

While God was most certainly in the process of dealing with and redeeming her past, when I suggested it wasn’t something I could recommend to a publisher, she quickly went into “damaged” mode, angrily suggesting I turned it down because all men were alike and I was probably abusing my own children.

I told her it was an unfair and unjust accusation against me and she quickly apologized with tears.

She was a damaged author. Many, many things needed to happen before she was ready to be exposed to the rigors of commercial publishing. Maybe the story needed to be written, reminding the writer of a life-process with God working throughout, but it probably needed to stay unpublished for a while. Maybe forever.

While agents and publishers send rejection notices every day because we cannot work with everyone, we can easily forget we are often rejecting damaged people, which can be wrenching.

Every time I press “send” on my email to an author I’ve decided not to consider working with, I think of the damaged authors who have responded in the past with angry replies borne out of the carnage of their earlier lives.

Today, my message is for authors who are damaged or authors who know someone who has been beaten up by life and the evil in it.

If you are an author working through the damage from your past, keep praying, look to Scripture, seek Godly counsel and community. God has you in the palm of his hand, the same hand, which dug the oceans, pushed up the mountains and threw the stars across the universe. They are strong hands and they won’t let you go. Keep writing. To some, writing thoughts and experiences about God’s work in your life is like etching in wet cement, which once dry and hard becomes part of the foundation on which you stand victorious over sin in this life.

If you know a damaged author, pray for them, pray with them, provide them encouragement and every spiritual fruit, which is part of your growing Christian life.

But probably best to recommend they avoid jumping right into commercial publishing for a while, even self-publishing.

Once God has given some victory over the damage, a book written with God’s strength and courage could be used to change lives.

For everything there is a season.

 

Leave a Comment

Writing the Deeper Story

I realize this will probably date me, but I sincerely enjoyed a popular radio feature by Paul Harvey called, “The Rest of the Story.” I assume some reading this post today also remember it. For generations, the venerable radio commentator, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 90, …

Read More

Amnesia: The Key to Success

At some point, anyone involved in motivational or inspirational communication will touch on the necessity of leaving the past behind and moving on from a painful experience or time of life in order to grow personally or professionally. Millions of people spend billions of dollars each year on counselors helping …

Read More

The Isolated Writer

In general, writers do not do their best work in a group. The very nature of creative writing is a solitary pursuit, but without taking great care, can morph into a feeling of isolation. And this can occur whether an author lives in a quiet rural town or in midtown …

Read More

The Writer’s STEP

As some of you know, I have asthma. As does one of my very best friends. And you know what these two…ahem…”seasoned” asthmatics love to do? Hike! Yup. We plod along, coughing and wheezing and laughing (or, to be more accurate, gasping) about how they’ll find our poor deceased selves …

Read More

Writing from Weakness

I believe some of the most powerful books ever written by Christians will be published in the coming years. Why? Despite our best efforts, Christians failed to transform culture through the ballot box, boycotts, ministry/church programs and use of the media. Worldwide, Christians are not a moral majority but an …

Read More

Not So Great Customer Service

In publishing, all of us are really in Customer Service. The agent serves the writer. The writer serves the editor. The editor serves the publisher. The publisher serves the reader. Of course, there’s lots of overlap, but you get the idea. Recently I had a not-so-great customer service experience when …

Read More

When You Have One of “THOSE” Days

by Karen Ball You know the days I mean. The days you ask yourself, “Whatever made me think I could do this?” or “Why couldn’t I just sell shoes?” or “Are you sure that’s how you spell it’s? It looks stupid. It’s, it’s it’s. That can’t be right, can it??” …

Read More

The Many Faces of Discouragement

I know I promised you the final blog on accountability partners, but as I’ve talked with publishing folks and friends the last few weeks I’ve noticed a theme: Discouragement.

It’s a well-documented fact that people struggle with depression and discouragement more during the holidays than any other time of the year. I wonder sometimes if writers are among the most discouraged. Part of it, I’m sure, has to do with the in-and-out of finances this time of year—as in nowhere near as much coming in as is going out. I also think writers, introspective souls that we are, tend to look back on the year when December hits. You know, assess how we’ve done on meeting our NaNoWriMo or publishing goals. Many of us are forced to face what is rather than what we’d hoped would be.

Don’t you wish sometimes that you could write the story of your life? That you could tie up all the loose ends, show how even the hardest times are all a part of God’s plan to refine and restore? That we could craft a life where no one loses health insurance, jobs, or homes. And of course, in our wonderfully crafted story, family gatherings would be just like those heart-warming Norman Rockwell paintings, where everyone is smiling and happy and full of joy. But no, instead of Rockwell, we get a scene from Chevy Chase’s “Christmas Vacation.” As for the job of writing or publishing, well, what a year it’s been, what with publishers shutting down lines, editors being laid off, advances getting cut in half, contracts being cancelled…

Read More

Handling Disappointment

by Steve Laube

I do not like to experience disappointment. I do not like rejection, even when it isn’t my personal project being turned down. I do not like to be the bearer of bad news.

And yet I do experience disappointment, rejection, and the telling of bad news…every week. That is the nature of the arts.

The arts (meaning music, writing, dance, and painting) is comprised of thousands of hours of practice; long days of solitude; truckloads of self-doubt; in a world where everyone is a critic.

Read More